Real Life Pitch Perfect in NYC

By Dan Purcell

Led by an electric performance by Best Solo winner Anthony Rodriguez, the Northeastern University Nor'Easters took home the Gooding Cup as well as the top spot in the 2017 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella after a fierce competition featuring performances from 10 incredible groups at Beacon Theatre in New York City on Saturday.

I've been an a cappella participant and fan for almost eight years now; yet this was the first time that I was attending the finals of the competition made internationally famous by the film "Pitch Perfect." The opportunity never came my way to attend finals as a competitor with my college group, Ithacappella, but I was still pumped to attend as a fan of all things a cappella. Additionally, I was thrilled that three groups I had been following since my freshman year of college were performing that night: Voices in Your Head, the Nor'Easters, and the Scattertones. I had met a handful of members and alumni during my time in Ithacappella, but it would be the first time that I would get to see these groups perform live. I could not wait.

It's safe to say that all 10 groups took advantage of being on the iconic stage of the Beacon Theatre by wowing the audience with incredible numbers that showcased dynamic singing, slick choreography and staging, and soloists. These singers are on par with, if not better than, any current major recording artist. The judges certainly did not have an easy task as they determined the top three groups of the night.

In between each performance, we were treated to the dynamic energy and hilarity of the emcee pairing of Courtney Jensen and Cooper Kitching. One of the highlights of their banter between groups was Courtney playing "My Heart Will Go On" on a recorder as a means to cleanse our musical palates. That moment had me in stitches.

The night wasn't over after the competitors left the stage.  During the deliberation rounds, the audience was treated to performances from the top three groups that placed at Friday night's ICSHA Finals. It's been said many times before, but those three groups are a testament to how far high school a cappella has come since my time in high school. Any one of those three groups on stage could go toe-to-toe with the 10 competitors in the collegiate competition.

First, we got a stunning rendition of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" by all 10 groups that was taught to the groups that day by Grammy Award-winning producer and vocal arranger Ben Bram.



Then, Varsity Vocals executive director Amanda Newman came out with results in hand.



We learned the winner, first and second runners up, as well as special awards given by the judges to individuals who perfomed above and beyond in specific categories. Instead of the usual Best Vocal Percussion award, a Bass award was given for this first time since Avi Kaplan (Pentatonix) won it in 2008 with Mt. San Antonio College's Fermata Nowhere.

You Can Find The Full Results HERE

Gooding Cup in hand, the Nor'Easters took the stage for an encore performance, singing their cover of Justin Bieber's "Sorry." With that, the finals concluded, and another ICCA season was in the books on a night that proved to be a celebration to how far collegiate a cappella has come and a testament to its incredibly bright future.

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