This past Saturday, Feb. 9, UR’s a capella group After Hours won first place at the Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals for the annual Varsity Vocals International Championship of Collegiate A cappella (ICCA); Seniors Ben McCormack and Ethan Lobenstine were awarded Outstanding Arrangement for the entire After Hours performance set.
The group will be advancing to semifinals which will be held at Rutgers University on March 30.
The competition, which was held at Penn State University, gave teams a 12-minute time slot to impress judges. The After Hours’ set included “Too Close” by Alex Clare, “Samson” by Regina Spektor, and “Titanium” by David Guetta.
Junior Rohini Rege, one of the group’s vocalists, cited the performance as the competitions highlight.
“The entire performance felt like a blur,” she said. “It did not feel like we were on stage for more than two minutes.”
She went on to describe the enthusiastic response to their energetic opening number.
“We incorporated a dubstep a cappella drop,” she explained. “During that part, one of the judges’ mouths dropped open and he dropped his pen on the floor. Seeing reactions like that from the judges and from the entire audience was such a great feeling.”
Sophomore Rei Ramos, another After Hours performer, agreed.
“It was awesome that a judge of that caliber was so impressed by a college group,” he said.
Of course, this kind of talent does not just materialize from thin air. Hard work and diligent practice went into perfecting the group’s performance.
“We typically rehearse three times a week for two to three hours at a time,” Rege said. “Two weeks prior to the competition, we were rehearsing every single day for two to three hours. It’s very tiring, but very worth it”.
Even with all the preparation, the competition remained fierce.
“There were a lot of Penn State and Pennsylvania area collegiate groups that were extremely good and well-known,” Rege claimed. Indeed, the Penn State Statesmen took second place, and the Penn State Pennharmonics took third.
Now, with semifinals less than two months away, and the promise of even tougher teams looming over them, After Hours strives to further advance and polish their technique.
Both Rege and Ramos agree that the team’s choreography could use some improvement.
“We need to sharpen our choreography,” Ramos admitted. “But we also need to just keep the intensity and passion that we had at the quarterfinals.”
Semifinals will undoubtedly test the team’s technical ability and stage charisma, but overall, the times are thrilling for the members of After Hours.
“I’m looking forward to hearing the other groups,” Ramos said. “A cappella is so underplayed in the college world. Being with groups that are so crazy good at performances is amazing.”
Jeng is a member of
the class of 2016.