Three Lehigh a capella groups headed to international quarterfinals

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The 2019 International Championship of Collegiate A Capella (ICCA) Mid-Atlantic quarterfinals will be hosted at West Chester University on Feb. 16. All four Lehigh a capella groups — A Whole Step Up, Off the Record, The Melismatics and The Echoes — were accepted into the quarterfinals.

Only Off the Record, The Melismatics and the Echoes, however will be joining the other seven a capella groups at West Chester University. The groups will perform in Asplundh Concert Hall from 7-11 p.m.

Although the group was invited to the ICCA’s, A Whole Step Up will not be participating this year, said David Pochapin, ’19, a member of the group.

“We have done it the past three years that I have been here. I am the only senior in the group, so I am sort of the guy in charge this year which is great,” Pochapin said. “We have 14 members and eight of them are new.”

Pochapin said working with two new music directors was too much of a transition for the group. They decided to take this year off from the competition to rebuild and move forward so that they will be adequately prepared for future competitions.

Annie Karras, ’21, is a member of The Lehigh Echoes, which is the only all-female a capella group at Lehigh.

Karras said Echoes has been a support system and acts as a group of girls who share her love for music. She said she values how they all sing and make music together.

Nadine Clopton, ’19, and Jordan Goodness, ’20, are both members of The Lehigh Melismatics, the first co-ed a capella group on Lehigh’s campus.

Clopton said The Melismatics perform a lot of alternative and funky music.

“We go between performing not very well-known music to new renditions of really popular songs,” Goodness said. “Mel’s always creates really devoted members that turn into really die hard fans after graduation.”

In order to be accepted into the quarterfinals, Karras said the a capella groups must submit an audition video. The top two highest-ranked groups will advance to the ICCA Mid-Atlantic Semifinal.

“We perform at most a 12-minute set, completely a capella, with choreography as well,” Karras said.

A meaningful competition

Clopton, Goodness, Karras and Pochapin all agreed that the ICCA’s are a lot of fun but also a lot of work. They do recognize, however, the ICCA’s have a huge payoff.

“There is a thing where we say ‘don’t black out before you go out’ because sometimes the excitement makes you forget how you did or what you were doing because you were so into the moment,” Goodness said. “When you leave the stage you kind of don’t even remember what just happened.”

Clopton remembers “blacking in” at the beginning of the last song of her set during her sophomore year performing at the ICCA’s.

“We just had this moment as a whole group, and I was like, ‘wow this is really happening,’” Clopton said.

Pochapin said his group puts a lot of pressure on their performance to make sure the audience is having a great time as well.

“My sophomore year, we did ‘Stacy’s Mom’ — a classic — and the whole audience was going crazy,” Pochapin said. They were laughing as we were trying to be a sexy male group performing this song.”

“I love this competition because we not only get to compete against amazing groups, but we also get to watch them perform and bond with them to get to know new people,” Karras said. 

Preparation

According to Karras, a normal week involves a total of five hours of rehearsal time — a three-hour session on Mondays and a two-hour session on Thursdays. As the competition draws closer, The Echoes have added another three-hour rehearsal each week.

Karras said they will probably add another four hours of rehearsal in the week before the competition.

Clopton said The Melismatics start out with the music and try to fine-tune it as much as possible before going into choreography. The music stands as a point of reference and the choreography is worked into that.

It’s a lot of focusing on our expression and a lot of focusing on our emotions,” she said. “To choose the lead duets for the ICCA’s, we are a little more particular just because there is a lot more that goes into choosing a soloist then just the sound of their voice. We audition people for the solo, kick them out of the room and deliberate. It could take 10 minutes, or it could take an hour.”

The Lehigh Echoes will perform “Show Me Love” (Skrillex Remix), “Breathin’” by Ariana Grande, “Done for Me” by Charlie Puth and “River” by Bishop Briggs.

The Lehigh Melismatics will perform “Greedy” by Ariana Grande, “The Middle” by Zedd, “Frustrated” by R.LUM.R and “Try” by Lawrence.

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