Pacific Lutheran University hosted the quarterfinal round of the 18th annual International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella last Saturday. The 10 best a cappella groups in Washington and Canada attended the event held in the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
PLUtonic, PLU’s all-male a cappella ensemble, and HERmonic, the all-female group, had the home field advantage Saturday night, but in a sport that demands perfection, only the top two teams can advance. PLUtonic was not one of them.
Instead it was HERmonic that stole the show, securing a first-place victory and the chance to compete in the ICCA semi-final round.
“We didn’t expect to win,” Kaylan Radel, the president of HERmonic, said. “You put in so much work for this one moment, and to hear your team’s name announced as the winner is surreal.”
Megan Zink, the financial director of team HERmonic, agreed. “All the teams were fantastic. We definitely wanted to win, but we didn’t expect it,” Zink said. “Usually the teams that win the individual awards also win the tournament.”
Four performers received individual awards and announcers also awarded the top three performances after the show.
PLU’s Brandon Hell from PLUtonic won the award for best arrangement. Best soloist and best choreography went to Central Washington University’s Nada Cantata, while Boots ‘N’ Cats, also from CWU, won best percussion vocalist.
Nada Cantata’s storytelling ability coupled with its unique sound landed the group in third place behind the thundering voices of the modest seven-person ensemble, Boots ‘N’ Cats, which placed second.
“Everyone here at PLU has been so welcoming of us,” Nicole Prigge, alto singer and group leader of Boots ‘N’ Cats, said. “We are a brand new group and came here for the learning experience. Second place just validates that we can compete against all of these big-name groups like HERmonic and PLUtonic.”
Sportsmanship was a common theme among all the competitors.
“It’s more about the singing than the actual competition,” junior Aaron Roberts, Bass vocalist from PLUtonic, said. “We understand the amount of work that goes into it [a cappella] and we support everyone.”
After HERmonic won and the audience encouraged the group to give an encore performance, every rival a cappella ensemble stayed to watch the set.
Not only was every seat in the 630-person auditorium filled, there were people standing in the back and along the walls. Each groups’ participants sat on the floor of the auditorium anywhere they could get a clear view.
In all there were approximately 750 spectators supporting the event.
Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. will host the ICCA semi-final round April 5.
“Unfortunately, unless a miracle happens we will not be able to afford to go to the semi-finals,” Radel said. “PLU doesn’t pay for us to go, and we would need to raise about $6,000 in a month’s time. We’re happy to have won, but sad that we can’t continue on.”