The International Championship of A Cappella is the only international tournament for a cappella singing groups in college. The Northwest regional tournament takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Western Washington University's Performing Arts Center's Concert Hall.
Admission is $21.50 general, $16 students, with tickets available from Western's box office.
For the first time, two of Western's a cappella groups, Undefined, an all-male group, and Major Treble, an all-female group, are competing. The top two groups at each quarterfinal advance to college semifinals to compete for cash prizes and for the title of grand champion.
I heard from Megan Long, marketing officer for Western's a cappella club, and from club president, Collin Donoghue, seeking a bit of publicity about the competition. Here's what Collin told me:
There are about 50 to 75 students in the club; 16 in the auditioned men's group, 13 in the auditioned women's group, and 25 to 50 in the non-auditioned group. The club doesn't have a faculty advisor, but the club is run by Collin, a political science major, and by Julie Dahlen, a community health major.
Typically, the songs they perform are arranged by members of the group and approved by the musical directors, Ethan Batson for the men's group and RJ Solomon for the women's group. In other cases, they vote on which songs they would like to perform and then hire someone to arrange it for them. For concerts, the group leadership typically decides which songs to sing.
All of their concerts are open to the public.
Auditions for the competition involved recording a performance of three songs and submitting it to Varsity Vocals, the host organization. Groups in the quarterfinal are mostly from Washington, with one group from Utah.
Collin says many other countries, mostly in Europe, have a cappella competitions approved by Varsity Vocals. The winner of those competitions can compete in the finals in New York. There's also an online international round in which overseas groups submit an audition video for judging. The international winner gets to compete in New York, too.
The top two groups from Saturday's competition advance to the semifinal at the University of Southern California. From there, the top two groups go to New York for the finals.
I asked Collin if the reward is fame or fortune, and he said, "Fame is the ultimate goal of the competition, much like an NCAA sports championship. In the past, winners of the ICCA final have performed on the Today Show, been featured in New York Times articles!"
When I asked him what was special about Saturday's event, he replied, "This is WWU's first year having any groups involved in the competition, and we have two groups competing this year.
"And on top of that, we are hosting the event right here at Western! That alone is cause for attention, but when you add in that we have two groups competing in a seven-group competition, where the top two groups advance, the odds of Western sending a group to the semifinals in California are very good!
"Both groups are working really hard to make sure we put on our very best performances at the quarterfinals, and with any luck we'll see that reflected in the judges' scoring.
"We have a large fan base at school, but it is important to us to have a connection with members of the Bellingham community too."
GRANGE HOSTS BAKING, CANDY CONTEST FEB. 19
The annual Whatcom County Baking and Candy Contest, sponsored by Washington State Grange, will be held Feb. 19 at Ten Mile Grange.
The contest is open to people of all ages; grange membership is not required. There are six entry classes. Recipes need not be original, and recipes from cookbooks are welcome.
Requirements vary for each category. For the rules, go to wa-grange.org, click on 2012-13 Program Handbook and then go to page 21.
Entries should be brought to the grange from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 19. That night a potluck dinner begins at 6 p.m.; after dinner, the baking entries will be auctioned off. Details: 360-398-1296.