Singing without instruments took center stage Feb. 8 as the b-sides and the F-sharps (F#s), two of Fordham’s mixed-voice a cappella groups, competed in the second quarterfinal of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella held at Rutgers University. The two groups competed in a field of 10 for the top two seeds, who would move on to the semifinals on March 29. Vocal Synergy from Wagner College and Casual Harmony from Rutgers took the top spots, eliminating both Fordham groups from this year’s competition. The b-sides seemed pleased with their performace, regardless.
“We came out, we put on a great show, we had a lot of fun,” John Castonguay, FCRH ’15, the music director of the b-sides, said. “Everyone really came together, almost like a b-sides family right before we went on stage.”
The quarterfinal was held in an auditorium at Hickman Hall on Rutgers’ campus and featured many groups with male, female and mixed groups present. A number of universities in the Mid-Atlantic region were represented, including Monmouth University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Haverford College and New York University. Each group performed a set of songs within a strict 12 minute time limit. Some chose to sing continuously while others stopped for re-tuning in between selections, though each was required to have choreography and staging. These selections were then scored by a panel of four judges and ranked by score, which combined vocals, choreography, arranging and professionalism to determine which two teams move on.
The song choices ran the gamut from classics like “September” and “Man in the Mirror” to modern pop hits like Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” and Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop.”
The b-sides performed a set of popular hits sung continuously, arranged by Christopher Pedro, FCRH ’15. They began with Kanye West’s “All of the Lights,” followed by “Run to You,” a song by professional a cappella group Pentatonix, then a ballad version of “Teenage Dream,” ending with a mash-up of “Save the Night” and “Clarity.”
Pedro explained that he selected the songs to tell a story, and arranged the set keeping this in mind.
“Whenever you listen to a song, you really get a story; and I wanted to take this…and tell a different story with it,” Pedro said, speaking of the ballad version of “Teenage Dream.” “I thought that changing the music of it while keeping the words the same could actually help influence and shape the different story I wanted to tell.”
Although they did not advance to the next round, the b-sides seemed happy about their performance and looked forward to competing again next year.
“Our high point and downfall was we were extremely ambitious. I think it did really come together, and we worked very hard and we know what to do next year to make it better,” Noelle Granberry, FCRH ’15, the president of the b-sides, said.
The b-sides are already looking ahead. “I definitely want to do it again,” Granberry said. “I think that [the criticism] really motivated the group a lot; I know I was inspired by the end.”
The F#s, the only Fordham a capella group based at Lincoln Center, performed last in the ten-group event. They also performed a continuous set consisting of Destiny Child’s “Say My Name,” the Beyoncé hits “Irreplaceable” and “Single Ladies,” The Head and The Heart’s “Rivers and Roads” and Ke$ha’s “C’mon.”
Although neither of these Fordham groups will advance, three more have a chance when they compete at their quarterfinal on Feb. 22, held at Rutgers. The Ramblers, Hot Notes and Satin Dolls will each take their turn vying for a place in the top two to advance to the ICCA Mid-Atlantic semifinal, also held at Rutgers on March 29. On Feb. 11, Fordham students rallied in the McGinley Center to raise funds for the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The event, Up ‘til Dawn Blackout Cancer, was sponsored by the hospital. The mission of St. Jude’s Hospital is to work towards a cure for pediatric diseases through research and treatment. The most unique thing about St. Jude’s is that children are offered treatment regardless of their families’ ability to afford it.
Nick Lopresto, FCRH ’15, said that fundraising is important to the maintenance of the hospital, and that the Up ‘til Dawn event provided an opportunity to raise funds for the children in the hospital’s care in conjunction with many other chapters across the United States which have the same fundraising mission.
The entertainment at the event included Fordham performers DJ Steinway, DJ Gavo and rapper Dayne Carter. There was also food catered by multiple Arthur Avenue vendors. During Up ‘til Dawn, students stayed up from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., embodying one of the mottos of St. Jude’s, which is “Cancer doesn’t sleep, so neither will we.”
The purpose of the event is to make students question the things that are important to them, specifically asking them, “What do you stay up for?”
“Whether it be hope, awareness or simply because you are empathetic, each person has a reason for which they want to stay up,” Lopresto said. “Students stay awake in honor of the patients and families that endure so many sleepless nights at St. Jude.”
At the event, students were able to take part in various activities, including a pie eating contest and a bingo match.
There was also a poster making contest, in which the artists used paint-filled syringes. “We used syringes because they are naturally affiliated with the hospital and made it apparent that we weren’t just there to play games, we were there to help with a serious cause,” Lopresto said.
At these activities, students competed for various prizes such as an iPhone, a vacation and dinner with Fordham’s very own Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. president of the university.
Lopresto said he enjoyed the event, stating that the sense of community he experienced in those few hours was unprecedented. “Any time that people are engaged in a philanthropic setting, I think a good side of them comes out and it makes for a comfortable and thought-provoking event,” he said. “The event made me feel thankful, gracious and empowered. I was very happy that the students of Fordham, as a community, came together to support such a noble cause.”