UR will host one of the ICCA Central quarterfinal rounds of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) on Saturday, Feb. 27. Nine groups, including UR’s After Hours, will compete for a chance to move on to the semifinal round, which will be held at the University at Buffalo on April 2.

ICCA, which fans of the film “Pitch Perfect” may recognize, began in 1996 as a competition to award the best groups in a cappella. ICCA divides the country into several regions, in which there are quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. The winner of each semifinal moves on to the final round in New York City.

The opportunity for UR to host a quarterfinal event, which will take place in the Larry and Cindy Bloch Alumni and Advancement Center Auditorium, came last year after the Midnight Ramblers unsuccessfully campaigned to host the competition when Varsity Vocals, the company that runs the ICCAs, had already found the needed venues.

The four SA-recognized UR a cappella groups—After Hours, the Midnight Ramblers, Vocal Point, and the YellowJackets—all have histories with the competition.

Vocal Point and the YellowJackets both declined to compete this year; the former group won their quarterfinal round in 2008 and last competed in 2012, while the latter first competed in 2014, when they came in second place in the semifinals. The YellowJackets were also awarded Best Choreography and Best Arrangement. Vocal Point is currently looking into competing again in 2017, but the YellowJackets have no plans to do so.

This year, After Hours and the Midnight Ramblers have both chosen to compete. On Feb. 6, the Ramblers participated in a quarterfinal round held at Ithaca High School, where they were awarded second place and Music Director Ben Hall won Best Arrangement. “When we were waiting as the judges were deliberating, I didn’t know—I thought it was equally likely that we didn’t place at all,” Hall said. “So then it was very fun when they announced our name for the runner-up.”

After Hours, who placed first in their quarterfinal last year, is hoping to repeat that feat again this year, when they will have the home field advantage. “It’s pretty incredible the support that a cappella groups get—on this campus and on others as well,” said Music Director John Queenan.

But those advantages also come with some pressures, even if the group seems remarkably prepared to deal with them. “I think that there is pressure to win regardless of having won last year,” Queenan said. “But it’s definitely true that the group that deserves to win will win, and if we don’t win, then some other group was just better. And that’s good for them, it’s not bad for us.”

If After Hours emerges victorious again, they will compete against the Ramblers at semifinals. Queenan admits that there would be some friendly competition with the group, but that “it’s all in good fun.”

Scott Lamm, the Ramblers’ General Manager, agrees, and also hopes that students will turn up to support the a cappella community on campus. “It’s definitely an opportunity that the students have never had before.”

“I think the student body should go because it’s just super important to have school pride,” Queenan added.

While Varsity Vocals typically sells tickets to the event for fifteen dollars, the Ramblers have partnered with Campus Activities Board to sell a limited number of discounted tickets to students for seven dollars. The discounted tickets will go on sale at the Common Market on Friday, Feb. 19, and will include a bus ride to the Advancement Center.

Tagged: A Cappella

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