For the UR Midnight Ramblers, it looks as if the second time is really the charm. After failing to advance in the International Championship for College A Cappella competition in their first attempt, the Ramblers find themselves in the competition’s international finals after winning this weekend’s Mid-Atlantic Regional at Cornell University.

A victory at the ICCA’s Mid-Atlantic Divisional Competition, held at the Rochester Institute of Technology in December, gave the Ramblers an automatic bid into the regional finals, where they defeated teams from Rutgers University and Lafayette College.

The last UR vocal group to advance into any round in ICCA competition was the Yellowjackets in 1997, according to Ramblers Musical Director and senior Dan Israel.

Having exceeded many of their own expectations, each member savored their victory, according to one of the Ramblers’ business managers and sophomore Matt Roe.

“I think winning must have looked to many people like we won the World Series or something – some of the guys in the group were pretty close to tears,” Roe said. He did not go on to mention any particular names.

Business Manager and junior Sanjay Menon shared similar sentiments of the moment after the Ramblers’ victory. “I don’t really remember another time [in which] I have ever felt so proud of the group, and proud of the individual performances,” Menon said.

The ICCA is set up slightly differently than the typical Ramblers’ concert UR students are used to. The group performs a 12-minute medley of songs that are critiqued by three judges who are looking for performances that display both visual and vocal talent. This dynamic sets a unique performance twist for the Ramblers, according to Roe.

“[During our performance] we are trying to appeal to three judges instead of a college crowd,” Roe said. “I’m not saying we sacrifice anything in the process, but the judges wouldn’t appreciate a goofy performance of ‘Tribute’ by Tenacious D necessarily as much as UR does.”

The Ramblers’ performance featured songs such as “Grind” by Phish, a Da Vinci’s Notebook cover of “Stuck in the Middle with You” featuring Menon as a soloist, Randy Newman’s version of “When She Loved Me” featuring sophomore soloist Jeff Lee, and The Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” featuring Roe as the soloist.

While no Rambler garnered any individual honors, it did not take away from the victory, according to Israel.

“No one has won any individual awards and I think the group is quite pleased with that,” Israel said. “That fact further illustrates how we really are a cohesive group of 15, and not 15 individual singers.”

The Ramblers are the first team out of a possible six to make it to the ICCA finals, which will be held at Alice Tully Hall in the Lincoln Performing Arts Center in New York City. While no other teams have advanced as of yet – competitions in the Northeast, New England, South, Midwest and West regions will be held later this spring – the Ramblers expect even tougher competition.

“Right now, we don’t know who we’re up against,” Roe said. “A lot of the groups competing in the other regions are very well-known and extremely polished. We’re going have to work very, very hard to have a shot in the finals.”

Tickets for the finals are available at http://www.lincolncenter.org, or can be purchased by calling (212) 721-6500. For additional information about the competition, visit http://www.varsityvocals.com.

Allard can be reached at dallard@campustimes.org.



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