Christina Aloisio sings "Dark Side," which took home an award for Outstanding Arrangement by Jon Smith.

Vocal Point champs

UD's Vocal Point wins international quarterfinal competition, advances to semifinals


8:35 a.m., Feb. 25, 2014--The University of Delaware’s co-ed a cappella group Vocal Point has done it again, taking home first place at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) South Quarterfinal competition on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

This is the second year in a row Vocal Point won top honors, having placed first in last year’s ICCA Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinal

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Vocal Point performed a 12-minute set, including I Had Me a Girl by The Civil Wars, with solos by Colin Daingerfield and Denise Natoli; Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson, sung by Christina Aloisio; and My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up) by Fall Out Boy, sung by Jon Smith.

They landed a score of 439 for their performance — highest out of every single region in this year’s ICCA competition to-date — to outperform second place Faux Paz by 79.5 points and third place PandemoniUM by 112.5 points, both groups from the University of Maryland. And the kudos didn’t stop there.

Smith, music director of Vocal Point, took home the outstanding arrangement award for Dark Side, and the group took home the outstanding choreography for their entire set.

Smith also arranged My Songs, and said the arrangement on I Had Me a Girl was the result of a collaboration he was involved in with The Vocal Company at a workshop called “Next Level Arrangements.” At the time, Smith said they had four days to pick, arrange, record and produce an entire track and that was the one Vocal Point chose.

In addition to the high score, the ICCA judges’ comments were full of compliments for Vocal Point. 

“This group really stepped out of the box with arrangements, interpretation and creativity,” wrote one judge on Vocal Point’s scorecard.

Another judge noted the group “owned it” from the moment they stepped on stage, while a third thanked Vocal Point for bringing “a dynamic contrast I was waiting for all night.”

Vocal Point will now advance to the ICCA South Semifinal competition, to be held March 15 at 7 p.m. at Vanderbilt University.

Tickets are on sale now for the semifinal event, which will feature the top two groups from each quarterfinal.

“Vocal Point has come such a long way since my freshman year,” said Smith, who will graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. “The reason we’ve made it to where we are today is because of the insane amount of dedication, passion and hard work all of us put into what we do. Rehearsing nine hours a week sounds like a lot, but when you’re doing what you love with the people you love it’s all worth it.”

Brett Herskowitz, alumni relations and fundraising chair for Vocal Point, and Eric Ficarra, treasurer, echoed Smith’s sentiments about the group’s growth.

“Being able to represent our school at semifinals for the second year in a row is something that all of us are beyond excited to do,” said Herskowitz, who will graduate in May with a double major in political science and history and minors in performance studies and journalism. “Having the highest quarterfinal score in the nation is something that none of us expected, but it is nice to see all of our hard work being recognized.”

“It is so exciting to be the group that set the bar for the entire country,” added Ficarra, who will graduate in May with a degree in music education, of the high score. “I don’t think the magnitude of how amazing our performance was has really hit us yet. We’re all just entirely too ecstatic about the entire night – our famous cheering section, the reception from the whole audience, Jon’s award for best arrangement. It’s so much to take in. We just can’t wait for Nashville!”

Looking ahead, Smith said, “One of Delaware’s sayings is ‘Dare to be first.’ Well, that’s exactly what we did, and we’re not stopping here.”

Vocal Point has historically performed well at ICCAs. Past wins include: a 2013 outstanding soloist award for 2013 UD graduate Brooke Bartolo’s performance of Good Girl; third place overall at the ICCA South Quarterfinal in 2012; a 2011 outstanding arrangement award from the ICCA South quarterfinal at JHU for 2011 UD graduate Lauren Wells’ arrangement of Secrets; and in 2007, an overall third place win at the ICCA Mid-Atlantic quarterfinal at Lafayette College and outstanding soloist award for 2009 UD graduate Alfredo Austin’s performance of Sir Duke.

Performance of note

Also representing the University at this year’s competition were the MelUDees, another co-ed a cappella group.

The MelUDees made their ICCA debut last year at Rutgers University and came back to compete for the opportunity to grow as both a group and an a cappella community said Anna Gill, publicity contact for the group.

They performed Sara Bareilles’ Undertow, arranged by Zachary Hook-Bluett, and sung by Colleen Scott with Eric Frank on vocal percussion; Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars, sung by Neil Kirschling and Gill with Jaysen Rosario on vocal percussion; and a Maroon 5 medley, arranged by Rosario and Tomassetti and sung by Rosario and Heather Wadler with Alex Cornier on vocal percussion.

About the ICCA

Varsity Vocals ICCA is the only international tournament that showcases student a cappella singing. Programs are held at the college and high school levels, and involve a judging panel that provides feedback to the groups.

The annual tournament runs from January through April in nine regions – Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, South, West, New England, Mason Dixon and Western Europe – with each hosting several quarterfinal events. The top two college and high school groups at each quarterfinal advance to the college and high school semifinals, respectively. 

The winner of each semifinal is then invited to participate in the finals, held at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, where cash prizes and the title of grand champion are at stake.

For up-to-date results on the ICCA competition, visit Varsity Vocals

Photos and article by Kathryn Meier

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