A thousand spectators, commanding lights, and the sounds of emotion in my ears.

Yesterday night, Johns Hopkins hosted an ICCA Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinal, an event run by Varsity Vocals that brings a capella groups from around the region to show off 12-minute “sets”. A group’s set typically consists of three songs – each with a soloist, vocal percussion, bass, and backing vocals. In this quarterfinal, ten groups competed for two spots that would bring them to the Semi-final competition at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.


Cred: PhillyMag

We weren’t supposed to perform until much later that night, maybe 9 or 10 O’clock. All of the groups met earlier at 1:30 for a quick debrief/informational meeting, and then let go to do whatever they wanted until it was time to perform. After a short sound check at our assigned time, we headed back to polish and shape-up portions of our set. We changed into our outfits, and nervously (yet hopefully) talked about our would-be performance. Everyone felt tense, yet immensely proud of what was to come.

Performing with the JHU Octopodes last night was something else – it was the result of countless hours and days of repeated rehearsals, all culminating in a final musical presentation. To be honest, the performance itself was such a blur; I only vividly remember the moment when we finished our set. Maybe it’s because we ran through it so many times, or maybe it was just the adrenaline taking over.


Cred: Cindy Jiang

When the judges announced that our group had won first, the experience was nothing short of awesome. With everyone screaming and jumping all at once, I managed to capture snapshots of tears and joy of my friends despite all the frenzy. We even had some individual recognition in which some of our members won awards for best vocal percussion (Gabriel) and best song arrangement for the entire set (Joe and Katrina). Still shocked from the moment, we were asked to perform an encore song – something we definitely weren’t ready for (but it happened anyways).

As one of two teams competing in the Semifinals in Philadelphia, we have about a month to polish/change any part of our set. At Semifinals, my group (along with JHU_Joanna!) will be competing for the top spot which will take us to the ICCA Finals competition in New York (and once there, we’re also going to be featured on the Netflix series, Sing it On!). I don’t think I’m able to post any part of our set until we’re finished competing, so make sure to come out and watch us perform on March 26th!


Cred: Cindy Jiang