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The Hard Work And Close Bonds Of Competitive College A Cappella

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The Hard Work And Close Bonds Of Competitive College A Cappella

Theater

The Hard Work And Close Bonds Of Competitive College A Cappella

The Hard Work And Close Bonds Of Competitive College A Cappella

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/401992557/402160028" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Voices In Your Head, from the University of Chicago, performs their competition set. In the front, you can see Kari Wei — she's the one with the pitch pipe around her neck. Joe Martinez Photography hide caption

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Joe Martinez Photography

Voices In Your Head, from the University of Chicago, performs their competition set. In the front, you can see Kari Wei — she's the one with the pitch pipe around her neck.

Joe Martinez Photography

It's been many years since I did my three semesters of college a cappella, but it remains a genre of performance for which I have enormous affection. In 2012, the arrival of Pitch Perfect meant that suddenly, I knew a lot more people who even knew what a college a cappella was. Throw in The Sing-Off on NBC, throw in Pentatonix, throw in the upcoming reality show on the Pop Network (which is called Sing It On, if you want to know what tone they're taking), and you've got a lot more attention on this extracurricular than there's been in the past.

Not all a cappella involves competition by any means (mine didn't), but last weekend, I was in New York for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. I got to see some of the best groups in the country perform, plus a couple of very talented high school groups to make those in the audience feel particularly intimidated.

The SoCal VoCals were the winners of the 2015 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. Joe Martinez Photography hide caption

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Joe Martinez Photography

The SoCal VoCals were the winners of the 2015 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.

Joe Martinez Photography

Four of the eight competing groups spent time chatting with me (including the Northeastern University Nor'easters, who don't appear in the story but who are the one of these teams followed on Sing It On, so you'll have plenty of chances to get to know them), and I met some of the fans who come from far away to see the show. (I talked to two families who literally came to the ICCAs after just Googling a cappella competitions because they liked some combination of The Sing-Off, Pitch Perfect and Glee.)

In the story, you'll get to hear them sing, you'll hear some great reflections on the friends you make when you work really hard on a common goal, and you may be surprised how much work goes into creating an arrangement for a group to sing in the first place.