David Rabizadeh

The 5s

In this edition, in honor of his birthday, we’re taking a look at five reasons to pay homage to David Rabizadeh .

1. The ICCAs. There is no segment of a cappella hotter than the collegiate scene, and no collegiate competition more respected than The Varsity Vocals’ International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. Year after year, the tournament sets new records for the number of participants, bringing new ensembles, new schools, and new voices into the fold. A big part of that success is David Rabizadeh’s efforts as the director of competition, and the driving force behind competitive collegiate a cappella today.

2. Casual Harmony. After starting his undergrad collegiate career with The Rutgers University OrphanSporks, David went on to found the school’s first all-male a cappella group, Casual Harmony. In its first year, the group came just one place shy of advancing to the ICCA Finals, and has remained a perennial threat in the competitive Mid-Atlantic region ever since. In addition, the group has found its way onto the Best of Collegiate A Cappella compilation, and earned multiple nominations for Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards.

3. The enthusiastic minimum. I’m not sure if David innovated the concept, or just perfected it, but one of the hallmarks of him introducing an ICCA show is to advise the crowd to keep their applause between songs to an enthusiastic minimum—enough to show a group respect after each song while not taking too much time from the group’s 12-minute set allotment, or affecting the singers’ ability to hear their next pitch. David goes so far as to have the group practice how they will applaud—usually twice—to ensure everyone understands. I’ve heard plenty of other producers and emcees take their own whirls at suggesting the crowd keep their applause “short and sweet,” “big but brief,” or that they not applaud at all (my biggest pet peeve), but nothing seems to get the point across quite as clearly—particularly for new competition-goers—than David’s routine.

4. Suits. I defy anyone to find a better-dressed man at a collegiate a cappella competition. Whether’s he’s rocking the pinstripes or going with straight charcoal, and whether the shirt is blue, pink, red, or purple one thing remains certain—the man knows how to dress for success.

5. The unpronounceable last name. There’s a certain air mystery around a man with a name that simply cannot be pronounced correctly by mere mortals. When I hosted an ICCA show myself, I fell victim to mispronouncing it in front of hundreds of people. Such is the fate of most of us who dare such feats. Nonetheless David bears the Rabizadeh name proudly—it’s a name few of us can say, and few of us will ever forget.