DaCadence — a co-ed a cappella group at the University of Maryland — placed first at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Mid-Atlantic Semifinals last month, granting them a bid to the ICCA Finals this Saturday in New York City.

The ICCA finals, popularized in the Pitch Perfect franchise, features teams of all kinds from across the entire world who will compete for first place. 

After DaCadence made it past the quarterfinals, which featured teams from the immediate region, the group faced groups from a larger portion of the East Coast in the semifinals. Only the first place finishers of the regional semifinals move onto the finals, which features nine regional winners and one wild card bid.

Tania Ghandour, the group’s music director, said the semifinals victory at the semifinals was because of the group’s hours of preparation and dedication to their craft.

“We’re the group that works really hard behind the scenes,” she said. “Once we get on that stage, everything locks in, and the confidence really shows itself.”

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In addition to group rehearsals, which consist of both a “bootcamp” and then a “hell week” directly before the event, members are expected to work on their own to perfect their individual vocal parts and choreography, according to Nicholas Orellana, the group’s public relations chair.

Songs such as “Dance The Night” by Dua Lipa, “Misunderstood” by Banks and “First Light” by Hozier were part of DaCadence’s setlist at semifinals. Christina Williams, a senior marketing and studio art major and the club’s president, explained how DaCadence’s setlist tells a story about pressing on toward a place of “contentment and resolution.” 

“It’s kind of describing a story of frustration and putting on a mask for those around us and then taking that mask off,” she said.  

Williams said it took long rehearsals for DaCadence to find its strength in these songs, especially since creating the setlist was a collaborative process. Now that the group’s setlist has been finalized for months, the focus has turned to touching up the details, including choreography, to ensure that the audience sees the best performance possible.

Orellana, a marketing analytics graduate student who serves as the public relations and competition chair for DaCadence, said the group was mentally relaxed and excited for the competition. The goal isn’t to win, Orellana said — the group just wants to have fun and enjoy the experience in New York City together.

“Enjoying that experience is very important for us,” he said. “This hell week process isn’t really feeling that much like hell.”

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The group became closer and developed emotional connections with songs on the setlist in practice, Orellana said. Relating their personal experiences to the songs became a way for the group to truly connect with their music — and each other — ahead of the performance.

DaCadence released its album Temptation last year. The group’s spring concert will be on May 9 at 7 p.m. in Hoff Theater at Stamp Student Union.