By Rae Jefferson
The cast of “Pitch Perfect” has nothing on Baylor’s VirtuOSO. The group, an a cappella choir made up of 14 members, will compete at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Final in New York on April 18.
Only in its third year on campus, VirtuOSO won the ICCA South Semifinal on Saturday evening in Gainesville, Fla.
The semifinal brought together 10 winners of quarterfinal competitions, which were held in February, from universities in the southern region of the country.
VirtuOSO won the competition with a medley of “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors; “Honeymoon Avenue” by Ariana Grande; “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith; and “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson.
Marshall senior Ross Tarpley, VirtuOSO’s president, spoke with the Lariat about the big win.
How long did it take to prepare for the ICCA South Semifinal?
The preparation for the semifinal round was very hectic, actually, for two weeks after the quarterfinal competition. There were five members — so nearly half the group — who are in the Baylor a cappella choir and went on tour for a week. Then we had spring break. It’s been crazy.
We rehearse three times a week from 1 – 2:15 p.m., typically, but as crunch time began, we met the Sunday evening of the end of spring break for five hours. We watched videos of our competitions, critiqued ourselves and ran through the show.
Was there anything especially interesting going on at the event?
One group from Florida State, All-Night Yahtzee, was being filmed for a docu-series that’s going to be released in May. It follows the ICCA process. They drove up in these huge vans with TV cameras, kind of like a party bus. It was very intimidating. There were cameras and microphones during the orientation process, so we were sizing them up. We knew that they were some of our strongest competition.
What did the competition look like from a competitor’s point of view?
We got there, after a long drive, on Friday evening. Saturday was the main event. That morning we got up and rehearsed. We met up for an orientation at 4 p.m. They remind you of the rules, and make sure everyone is there.
We had 15 minutes for our soundcheck, and the rest of the afternoon we got dressed and got ready for performance. We ran through a song and rehearsed a little bit. The show started at 8 p.m., so we went backstage.
What was it like during the time you were waiting backstage?
The two groups who went before us, while we had seen some of their videos on YouTube, we didn’t really think that they were going to be huge competition. But being backstage and hearing them, we were very impressed with how they sounded, so we had to step up our game.
How did the crowd react to VirtuOSO’s performance?
We got a standing ovation and incredible applause from the audience.
How was the order of performance determined?
You draw a number out of a hat, basically. We drew third, so we were the third group to go out of 10.
How much time was each group given for preparation and performance?
We got 15 minutes total to soundcheck. The competition itself — each group is limited to 12 minutes for their set. It’s kind of like Sing — if you go over time, you get docked points. There are timekeepers on the front row, and they let you know with a three-minute warning or a one-minute warning.
How did you feel about your performance once it was over?
Part of what we’ve talked about is that after all these rehearsals and everything that we’ve done, the music and the moves and everything that we needed to do was inside of us. Our bodies knew what we needed to do, so the only thing we could do was bring the energy and the performance, and the passion behind the music. I think we left it out on the stage and gave it all that we had. All of us left feeling like we had given a stellar performance.
Were there any groups that stood out as particularly talented opponents?
For sure, the last three groups — the Acaphiliacs from Florida State University; All-Night Yahtzee, from Florida State University; and The Beltones from Belmont University — were very fierce competition for us.
We were very intimidated for sure, but knew that we had done the best we could and were proud of that.
How did it feel to win?
I was dumfounded. We only beat Belmont by five points, so it was a narrow win.
How has your group been impacted by the various competitions it has been involved in up to this point?
As a group we’ve grown in community. It’s indescribable, the amount of dedication and commitment everyone has shown. We’re so grateful and blessed to have been a part of this competition.