The Accidentals — Occidental’s treble a cappella group — competed at the 2018 International Championship of Collegiate A Capella (ICCA) Quarterfinal at University of California Los Angeles’s Royce Hall Feb. 24. Prior to their competition, the group performed an open dress rehearsal for their ICCA competition set list in Upper Herrick for the Occidental community Feb. 22.
The ICCAs are a collegiate competition of a cappella singing that occurs every year in the United States and the United Kingdom, according to the competition’s website. The ICCAs encompass nine geographical regions between the two countries with three to five quarterfinals per region; over 450 groups compete in total. The Accidentals competed in the West region against seven teams in their quarterfinal. Only the top three scorers in the quarterfinals move on, and while the Accidentals did not place in the top three, Jane Crosby-Schmidt (sophomore), the director of the group, said the group performed well.
“We are very proud of the performance we gave. We’ll use the judges’ feedback to help us improve,” Crosby-Schmidt said via email.
The Accidentals performed “Electric Lady” by Janelle Monáe, followed by “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith and closed with a medley of phone-related songs including “Telephone” by Lady Gaga, “Hello” by Adele, “Payphone” by Maroon 5, “Hello” by Karmin and “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson.
According to Crosby-Schmidt, ICCAs require choreography in addition to singing. The Accidentals learned their songs last semester over break and prepared their choreography after returning to campus this semester.
“[For] some people, [choreography is] way out of their element and some people have been dancing since they were really little, but it’s just really fun because everyone is doing so well,” Crosby-Schmidt said.
According to Crosby-Schmidt, the Accidentals and Cadence — the tenor/bass a capella group — started out in 2003 as offshoot groups to the Glee Club. The Accidentals attended the ICCA quarterfinal in San Diego for the first time last year where they placed third.
As part of the competition process, the group had to record an audition video in October 2017 as well as complete an application to be considered for the ICCA quarterfinals this year, Crosby-Schmidt said. After the ICCA accepted them, returning members selected songs from different genres for the competition. According to ICCA rules, groups may perform any musical style appropriate for all ages.
According to Crosby-Schmidt, while most acapella groups at ICCAs do not perform medleys, the Accidentals performed a medley last year and the audience enjoyed it. This success encouraged the group to create another medley this year.
Last semester, the Accidentals performed an a capella study break in the Green Bean and during the November college chorus concert. Emily Liang (first year) said that performing in smaller spaces provides a greater sense of intimacy while larger performances necessitate more dramatic and performative styles of singing.
“Everything will be really dark and you can’t really see out in the audience and [you] have to be as big as you can,” Liang said.
Alissa Bernstein (first year) said having two-to-four-hour rehearsals leading up to the ICCA competition allowed her to become closer to the group.
“I’ve gotten to spend more time with the rest of the group and that’s been really fun, and I’ve also gotten the tiniest bit better at dancing,” Bernstein said.
Crosby-Schmidt said that there is a sense of community among the teams that compete in the ICCA competition because only two of the eight teams advance to the regional final.
“What’s really neat about [ICCAs] is you get to meet a lot of other college students who love to sing, and it is a competition, but it’s more than a competition, it’s kind of a celebration,” Crosby-Schmidt said.
Bernstein said that she hopes the experience of performing in a large venue will provide more performing opportunities and make the group stronger performers for future competitions.
“I think it will open a lot of doors and help us get more comfortable on a stage as opposed to smaller performance in the Green Bean, and I hope that it can make us more confident as performers,” Bernstein said.
Neeha Kadavakolanu (sophomore) attended the Accidentals’ on-campus performance and said she was impressed with the group’s confidence, preparation and song choices.
“The first thing that I thought of was that this was like real life “Pitch Perfect” because they had choreography and everything,” Kadavakolanu said. “I really liked the mash-up. I wasn’t expecting it, but then it was all these throwback songs and that was really cool. It was really nice getting a little blast from the past with songs.”