This weekend, the a cappella community will converge on Chicago for what promises to be one of the most electric weekends all year for vocal music. So what will those in attendance to hear?
The Scholastic Competition
Friday, October 19, will see six college groups compete. The format should be nothing if not compelling. In the opening round, each group will sing two songs, the first to be characterized by “vivacity,” the second “duality.” After intermission, the top three groups will move on, singing under the theme of “immortality.” Will the prescriptive elements of the competition make groups feel boxed in, or will these very elements challenge them and reveal an unforeseen creativity in sound and visual presentation? We’ll just have to see.
The competitors will include 2011 ICCA Midwest champs, The Washington University Stereotypes; The University of Minnesota’s all-female Enchantments; Saint Louis University’s only all-male a cappella group, The Bare Naked Statues; The co-ed Northwestern University X-Factors; the group that spawned AcaPolitics author Stephen Harrison, Washington University After Dark; and, fresh off, their 15th anniversary at The University of Chicago, The Ransom Notes.
Of course, if the competition itself isn’t enough to draw an audience, the combination of University of Chicago’s reigning ICCA Midwest champions Voices In Your Head, University of Chicago’s all-female sensation Men in Drag, and pro group Six Appeal performing should do just the trick.
The Professional Showcase
The Saturday night show will open an encore performance by the winners of Friday’s college competition. After that, the sparks will truly fly with showings from Sonos and The Edge Effect.
After years of accumulating CARAs and developing an impressive fan base within the a cappella community, Sonos exploded on the national scene when they performed on season three of The Sing-Off. The Los Angeles-based group reported to me that they’re “inches away from finished with our album of original music.”
The Edge Effect has made a habit of succeeding on TV, winning MTV’s Top Pop Group and arriving as finalists on America’s Got Talent. With song stylings that span pop, R&B, jazz, rock, and funk the six-man group promises to bring the house down in Chicago.
For what it’s worth, emcee of this show will be some guy named Mike Chin. I hear he writes for a site called The A Cappella Blog. Should be good.
Workshops and Sessions
Of course, one of the truest draws of any CASA festival is the series of workshops and educational sessions that will include masterclasses, vocal percussion tutorials, an arranging panel, and sessions featuring Ben Stevens, Alex Koutzoukis, Matt Caruso, Amy Malkoff, Amanda Aldag, Alex Green, Marc Silverberg, and plenty of other a cappella luminaries.