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UR’s co-ed a cappella group, After Hours, has always been relatively overlooked on campus.  Despite consistently boasting a talented array of vocalists and releasing several quality CDs since the group’s founding in 1998, it wasn’t until last year that they were recognized nationally, a status that has already been received by fellow on-campus groups the YellowJackets and Midnight Ramblers.  However, After Hours’ improvement was again recognized this year due to their successful run at the Intercollegiate Contemporary A Cappella competition (ICAA) that culminated this past weekend at the Mid-Atlantic semifinals at Rutgers University.

After taking first in their ICCA quarterfinal last month, After Hours moved on to compete against the winners and runners-up  from the three other regional quarterfinals. Freshman Michaela Reichart said that despite the more competitive feel to the show, they generally enjoyed being there with all the other performers.

“It was cool to have a cordial relationship between us and the other groups.  At quarterfinals, the atmosphere was more tense and unfriendly, but the other groups seemed to be generally friendlier at the [semifinals],” Reichart said, a sentiment that was repeated by several other members of her group.

After spending the last six weeks honing their already strong set from quarterfinals — which includes covers of Alex Clare’s “Too Close,” Regina Spektor’s “Samson,” and David Guetta’s “Titanium” -— After Hours performed to much fanfare.  Improved choreography and passionate solos from Reichart, sophomore Rei Ramos, and junior Rohini Rege were noticeable positives of their performance as well as their generally strong arrangements and group dynamic.

“We  received a huge round of applause from the New Jersey audience,” said Rege. “The judges were extremely impressed with our set, especially with ‘Samson.’”

When the winners were announced, though, After Hours took fourth, lagging behind the Chordials of Cornell University, Fordham University’s Ramblers, and RIT’s Eight Beat Measure.  Take Five Scholar Ethan Lobenstine’s arrangement of “Samson,” received the Best Arrangement Award, which he shared with Mike Purcell of Eight Beat Measure.

Despite these results, After Hours had nothing but positive memories from the experience.  Music director and senior Ben McCormack shared an interesting story from his experience regarding how After Hours randomly broke into song with several of the other competing groups, making up random harmonies and loosening themselves up after the stressful performance.

“That sort of epitomizes the entire experience and perhaps my entire four years with this group,” said McCormack.  “Music is social. If you can’t enjoy it — even in something as big and competitive as ICCAs — it’s not really worth it.”

Several other members of the group, including Reichart, Rege, and senior Alex Murray, also shared several positive stories from their ICCA experience, but all agreed that their random song session with the other groups was one of the best. Sophomore Michelle Markowitz stated that many members of After Hours were actually expressing some relief that their ICCA experience was over, for they can now put all of their focus on their Spring Show on April 13, and the stress of competing at ICCA finals later this month won’t be hanging over them.

After Hours has come a long way from its origins as an a capella jazz group in the late 1990s.  Though they have competed in the ICCA’s annually — making the Mid-Atlantic semifinals in 2010 — they came into a competition for the first time as the clear favorite, with The A Cappella Blog ranking them as the seventh best group in the country that competed in the ICCA’s. Though they didn’t win, it is clear that they plan to compete in the future.  And regardless of whether they win or lose, Afters Hours has made its mark on the national a cappella scene, earning every bit of praise that is given to them with their dedication to being ever better.

Pascutoi is a member of the class of 2015.

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