Pitch Perfect Comes to Life

That’s right, the ICCA is not just a Hollywood invention. The International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) is a real tournament in which college students from six regions nationwide compete.

Held typically throughout the months between January and April, the competition is comprised of several quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, eventually leading up to the finals in New York City.

On Saturday night (February 9), Penn State hosted one of four quarterfinal events for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Six groups from other schools joined the five Penn State groups to compete for two coveted spots in the next round.

The event was free to the public and scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. in the HUB-Robeson Center Alumni Hall. Having thought that a ten-minutes-to-spare arrival time was going to be adequate, it was a surprise to find that a line had formed outside the hall doors. Many others had clearly planned their arrivals as I had, for within minutes the line extended all the way around to the computer store.

It was clear on the faces of the event staff as they wheeled in more chairs, hopelessly trying to accommodate everyone, that the huge turnout was much unexpected. Can you say aca-awkward?

A few people in line in front of me – thankfully at the front – were baffled by the crowd this year. According to them, last year had been nothing like this and they had been able to come and go as they pleased. So why the sudden fuss this year? No doubt it had something to do with the success of the movie “Pitch Perfect”. Fans of the film were all curious to witness the real deal (and hoping that Anna Kendrick would appear before their eyes.)

Before finally entering the hall to view the competition, I had the chance to observe one group – introduced to me proudly as Penn State’s newest a cappella sensation, The Coda Conduct – as they waited in the hall, preparing to take to the stage next.

Their combination of nerves and excitement proved that this competition really meant something and that the stakes were high. I watched as they executed their routine with careful, calculated steps on stage, doing their best to wow the judges with on-key vocals and good choreography. Immediately after them, another Penn State group, None of the Above, performed, followed by two visiting groups before the competition broke for intermission.

In the second half, the remaining three well-known Penn State groups took their turn on the stage – the Pennharmonics, the Statesmen, an all male group, and Blue in the FACE. The room erupted in cheers of excitement for each one as friends had come to support.

In the end, the judges handed out a couple individual awards for “outstanding-ness”, such as outstanding choreography and outstanding soloist – an award that two Statesmen, Jim Hogan and Liam Fennecken, took home. The Pennharmonics placed as second runners up, missing out on the opportunity to advance. However, one of Penn State’s own will be moving on  — the Statesmen placed as the runners up. They will join the competition’s winners, After Hours from the University of Rochester, to compete in the semifinal round at Rutgers University on March 30.


Photography by Kylin Chen


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