Two of Lehigh’s a capella groups, Off the Record and Echoes, competed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella at Drexel University on Jan. 28.
Nine groups from various universities competed in the event, which took place from 7-11 p.m. in the Main Auditorium at Drexel. The Supernovas from Villanova University received the first place award, with Under A Rest from West Chester University placing second and Soulfege from Lafayette coming in third. While neither of Lehigh’s a capella groups placed as overall winners, Kevyn McConlogue, ’19, of Off The Record was presented with the award of the most outstanding soloist.
McConlogue has been singing a capella her entire life and said she was in complete disbelief when she was announced as the winning soloist for her performance of “Bottom of the River” by Delta Rae.
Picking a song was a very meaningful process for McConlogue and she wanted to find a way to get that meaning across to her audience.
“I tried to vary different phrases and dynamics until I found a sound that I liked,” McConlogue said.
McConlogue said the other members of her a capella group were supportive of her award.
“The group was so excited for me, almost more than I was,” McConlogue said.
Anna Hollander, ’18, a business manager for Off the Record, said the competition was stressful but in a good way. Hollander said the day was filled with high excitement and high intensity.
Daniel Amankwatia, ’19, also a business manger of Off the Record, said the most surreal part of his experience at the competition was seeing so many other groups who are just as committed as his own.
Off the Record, a co-ed group, and Echoes, an all-female group, hold rehearsals two to three times a week where they create original sets and choreography.
Grace Lloyd, ’17, the business manager of Echoes, said the group practiced every day the week leading up to the competition. She said members also recorded tapes over winter break and sent them to one another to conduct virtual rehearsals.
Hollander said Off the Record’s preparation for the ICCA quarterfinals required a lot of time and work. She said members rehearsed every day for at least two hours during the week leading up to the competition because they were learning new music and choreography.
At the competition, both a capella groups had the chance to watch the other groups sing when they were not performing.
“It’s cool seeing that the a capella community is larger than just the community on Lehigh’s campus,” Amankwatia said.
Lloyd said there was a lot of Lehigh support at the competition from students involved in choir and other musical groups across campus.
McConlogue said her favorite part of the competition was the final song in the group’s set, a version of “See You Again.”
“I felt so connected to the group,” McConlogue said. “It was a powerful moment that I definitely won’t forget.”
Both groups are united by their passion for a capella as well as their genuine friendships. McConlogue said Off the Record is like a family she can come home to every week.
Hollander said the Drexel competition brought the group closer because it pushes singers to try their best even if the outcome is not exactly what they anticipated.
As a senior, Lloyd said she is excited to spend one more semester singing with Echoes. She said the group embodies many types of people from different parts of campus, but they all come together as a solid unit.
“(Echoes) is a really great opportunity to forget everything academically and come together,” Lloyd said.
She loves that the group embodies so many different types of people from different parts of campus.
In the upcoming weeks, Echoes and Off the Record both have events planned. Echoes is co-hosting an invitational with other local a capella groups. They will also be participating in the Raise Your Voice event hosted by the Women’s Center to promote activism.
Off the Record will be hosting a spring concert to celebrate the send-off of its senior performers. McConlogue said the event is special to the group because members give a speech about each senior, and then each senior gets to perform a song of choice.
“It’s emotional for all of us,” McConlogue said. “The best part of it all is doing what we love with the people we love.”