As any member of a college a cappella group (or any fan of “Pitch Perfect”) will tell you, the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCAs) is the premier collegiate a cappella competition. The ICCAs showcase some of the best ensembles in the United States, as well as a select few international elite. For Vocal Point, the university’s oldest a cappella group, competing in the tournament is nothing new.
The past decade has been marked by success for Vocal Point. With a quarterfinal finish in 2007, semifinal finishes in 2013 and 2015 and a third place internationally in 2014, the group has set a high standard for themselves.
“Expectations are pretty high for Vocal Point,” Kevin McGinnis, an alumnus of the group and its adviser, says. “They pride themselves on doing really well in these competitions.”
Throughout the year, Vocal Point prepares by attending and hosting a variety of events, from competitions at other schools, to gigs at various museums, as well as university exclusive performances such as DELAC. With DELAC, a campus performance series, Vocal Point has been looking to generate more interest in a cappella, and at the same time, have fun performing a short set.
“It’s a kind of concert to end the year and show what everyone has achieved and how they’ve grown,” says junior co-president Sarah Bajohr.
The event also has a unique theme each year, around which each group must plan their sets. These events have helped the group broaden their horizons and gain exposure, an important new objective to sophomore Josh Dill, the publicity manager and music director.
“It’s a great way to get our name out there, and I’m always amazed at how many people want us to come out and perform,” Dill says. “Especially on campus where you don’t think that many people know who you are.”
While these events are important to the group, winter and early spring of each year is almost solely dedicating to the ICCAs.
“We rehearse three times a week for three hours a session,” junior co-president Sarah Bajohr says. “We usually stick to that during ICCA season.”
For months ahead of the first round, the group establishes its official set for the competition, which includes not only the songs, but choreography as well. From there, it is a matter of rigorous rehearsal and fine-tuning.
In the days leading up to competitions, Vocal Point will usually host a “Preview,” a type of formal dress rehearsal. This also presents them with the opportunity to take feedback and make adjustments before performance time.
Bajohr says that it can be a critical tool in their preparation process, and has helped them on many occasions.
Once it is finally time for an ICCA round, Vocal Point must adhere to strict guidelines: their performance is limited to only 12 minutes and the timer begins when the first pitch is blown.
Each group is evaluated on vocal performance, visual performance and a small subjective area. Thus far in the competition, Vocal Point has made through the quarterfinals. The regional semifinals will be held in Wilmington. As of right now, Bajohr is confident in their set.
“It’s the first year we’ve been so comfortable and we feel so connected to the set, which is also connecting us with each other,” she says.
Going forward in the ICCAs, McGinnis recommends watching their competitors to improve.
“Where you’re at [the] competition, you need to look and see what other groups are doing, especially the groups that go far every year,” McGinnis says.
In addition to the ICCAs, the group is looking forward to their spring concert on May 5th at 7:30 p.m. at Pearson Hall. Their music can be found on iTunes, Soundcloud, Loudr and Spotify.