Pitch Perfect came to life last month when a University of Maryland a cappella group reached the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella finals in New York City.
This university’s DaCadence a cappella group attended the competition at the heart of the first Pitch Perfect movie – a contest upheld as the pinnacle of the college a cappella world in the film – on April 29.
The international finals competition features the top ten teams from around the world, according to Christina Williams, team member and junior marketing and studio art major. The competition takes place in a bracket format, with quarterfinals, semifinals and finals that take place from January through April each year, according to the ICCA website.
The group has never had the opportunity to compete in the ICCA Finals before, due in large part to the pandemic.
For DaCadence president Nicholas Orellana, having the chance to compete after the height of the pandemic halted performances is still a shock.
Making it so far in the ICCA competition was especially rewarding because it was the group’s first time competing in a while, the senior media and digital communications major said.
“We all put a lot of work and dedication and time to get to where we got,” Williams said. “I was really proud of our performance.”
Both Orellana and Williams have been obsessed with the ICCA’s since middle school, when they saw the competition depicted in Pitch Perfect.
“This is the biggest competition in all of college a cappella,”said Kasey Donaldson, a senior public health science major and vice president of the team.
The process of reaching the ICCA finals is a long term commitment. The team started working on their setlist last summer.
It takes the group four or five rehearsals to finalize the songs they end up performing, Orellana said. It was important for everyone’s voices to be heard in the preparation process, Orellana said.
The group tries to make an arrangement suitable for a cappella performance, but also creates a cohesive storyline, Williams said.
“We really pride ourselves on picking songs that are very strong and powerful and show off every one of our members’ voices,” she said.
The team also has a different style compared to other a cappella groups, which helped them stand out, members said. The team enjoys singing numbers with “darker tones,” Orellana said.
In addition to competing in the ICCA finals, the group also had a spring concert Thursday, where they performed their ICCA finals setlist for students at this university.
DaCadence also plans to record an album next week and release the project in the summer. The album will feature their ICCA setlist alongside other iconic songs the group has performed.
According to Orellana, group members will come in each day during finals week to record parts on the album.
DaCadence has worked toward their goal of reaching the ICCA finals for years. The a cappella community at this university is extremely welcoming and the group sees themselves as a tight-knit family, Donaldson said.“It’s been by far my favorite part of being at the school,” Donaldson said. “I have loved every single second of it.”