Five a cappella groups traveled to Boston on February 13 to compete for the title of Best Collegiate A Cappella Group and a prize of $750. Hosted by Emerson’s WERS 88.9, the fifth annual competition featured the BU Dear Abbeys, Dartmouth Aires, Tufts SQ, UMass Doo Wop Shop, and Bowdoin Meddiebempsters. The Cutler Majestic Theatre was teeming with excited audience members, and those who couldn’t attend listened to the live stream on WERS 88.9.
First to perform was the BU Dear Abbeys, who pleased the crowd with its song variety and comical dance moves. Judge and Emerson Noteworthy President Ryan McGovern ’11 observed, “They changed the energy in the room with each different song selection.”
Following BU was the defending champion, the Dartmouth Aires. Julia Avanti ’07, former WERS program director, said she was blown away by the group’s ability “to take difficult songs and make them seem simple.” Judges were particularly impressed with Dartmouth’s rendition of “Sweet Disposition,” originally by Temper Trap, which demonstrated their finessed unity.
Third onstage was the only co-ed group competing, Tufts SQ. As the smallest group, it seemed to hold its own and create a lot of energy, which the audience responded well to. Judges agreed it was nice to see women in lead singing roles.
The UMass Doo Wop Shop performed fourth and earned the only standing ovation of the night with its “Disney Medley.” The eight-minute-long compilation of Disney classics, including “The Circle of Life” from Lion King, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan, and “Part of This World” from The Little Mermaid, had audience members on their feet, clapping and whistling loudly. Judge Sandi Goldfarb ’78, vice president of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, could only relay, “The audience said it all.”
Last to compete were the Bowdoin Meddiebempsters, the third oldest a cappella group in the country, founded in 1937. Goldfarb, who thought they were adorable, commented, “They started off sounding like a traditional barbershop group and transitioned to Stevie Wonder. They honored their tradition while putting their own spin on it.” Bowdoin was charming and kept its performance clean and simple.
The audience submitted their ballots and while votes were being counted, Emerson’s Noteworthy performed a few songs. Emcees and WERS DJs Alexa Palladino ’11 and Max Peters ’12 announced the winner: the UMass Doo Wop Shop. The group was presented with the award money and proceeded to sing two more songs as an encore.
Chris Kazarian, a member of the Doo Wop Shop, said afterward, “This was the best performance of the Disney Medley we’ve ever done. We’ve been working on it and adding to it for about a year now.” When asked what they planned to do with the prize money, he continued, “Funds have been tight this year, so we’re really excited to put this money toward making our album.”
Overall, student organizer Mariel Wade believed the event was a success. “I am positive that we put on a great show for both the audience and the at-home listeners,” Wade said.
Photo credit: Aja Nearhing