After School Specials Crescendo at Big Bridges

Amelia DeSnoo belts it out, taking home first place at the ICCA competition Saturday with her group, the After-School Specials. (Liam Brooks • The Student Life)

Featuring nine a cappella groups, meticulously choreographed performances, and stunning vocals, the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) Southwest Quarterfinals was, for lack of a better descriptor, “a-ca-awesome.” The tournament held at Pomona College’s Big Bridges Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 6, was just one of many competitions held across the nation as part of ICCA.

Hundreds of people—enthusiastic students and families alike—filled Big Bridges with excited cheers and applause as they came to support the nine featured groups, hailing from colleges in the Southwest region.

The groups were, in performance order, Chapman Soundcheck (Chapman University), Frequency (University of California, San Diego), Chaptones (Chapman University), The After School Specials (Claremont Colleges), Catcall A Cappella (University of Arizona), Fermata Nowhere (Mt. San Antonio College), Enharmonics (University of Arizona), Duly Noted (UC San Diego), and Not So Sharp (University of California, Riverside). Performance order was determined by random draw earlier that day.

According to ICCA Southwest Coordinator Lucy Jackson, “the groups here today are just a fraction of the 350 total a cappella groups competing in ICCA. This is a really exciting time to be part of a cappella.”

Countless hours of rehearsal culminated in 12-minute performances that were judged based on the group’s vocals, choreography, and unity as an ensemble.

“We engage in a song selection process where all members are encouraged to bring in their own song choices, and narrow it down from there … [We] try to round out the set with different types of songs. Generally, there is one upbeat song (‘Levels’ by Nick Jonas), one more intense and impactful (‘Recovery’ by James Arthur), and one that is slower paced (‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ by Lianne La Havas),” wrote Amelia DeSnoo PO ‘16, Co-President of The After School Specials in an email to TSL.

In addition to the time spent on their performance, The After School Specials had another job to take on: hosting the ICCAs.

“Hosting the ICCAs was hard, no doubt!” DeSnoo said. “Alex Hwung CM ‘16 took the lead on communicating with Lucy Jackson. We were in charge of finding performing groups, tabulators, time-keepers, and providing the visiting groups with guidance once they got on campus.”

Along with their unique set lists, groups stood on stage in a variety of outfits. Performance attire ranged from classic formal suits, ties, and dresses to Fermata Nowhere’s bright red jumpsuits. Each group had individual characteristics that made them particularly entertaining.

“Everyone performed really well—I particularly enjoyed the groups’ fun stage presence and playful puns,” Savannah Jett PO ‘19 said.

While the audience waited for results to be announced, Claremont’s other a capella groups, Midnight Echo and Claremont Shades, treated the audience to more performances. At long last, results came in with the audience practically bursting with anticipation. The After School Specials took home first place, with Fermata Nowhere and Chapman Soundcheck winning second and third, respectively.

In addition to taking first place overall, The After School Specials won some individual awards, with Pranay Yeturu PO ’16 taking Best Percussionist and Niko Tutland PO ’17 winning Best Arranger.

“I think the most unique thing about our group as compared to other groups you see competing in the ICCAs is our laidback and fun-loving nature. Judges have commented on this in the past, but it is very clear that when we perform, we are doing it because we love it,” DeSnoo said.

The next stop for these top three groups is the ICCA Southwest Semifinal, which will take place April 3 at University of California, Los Angeles. Until then, stay tuned!

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