Written by Bradley Bommarito
Eleven of Roanoke College’s most talented vocalists competed in the Mid-Atlantic qualifier round of the Varsity Vocals International Championship of Collegiate A Capella (ICCA) last month. Though they didn’t return with a victory, they put their singing skills and teamwork to the test and had the bonding experience of a lifetime.
“We have a very young group, most of our members are underclassmen. I am very proud that we handled the competition so well considering over half of our people have never competed before,” said sophomore Owen Gold, RoaNotes president.
The RoaNotes were given 12 minutes to perform without the use of any instrumentals or recorded music. They performed a variety of songs that had been arranged by junior Noelle Warfford, the group’s director.
“As a director, I strive to help each individual find their part and to create harmony within the group,” said Warfford.
The group competed against ten schools from the region, including George Mason University, the College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and George Washington University. Most of the teams were larger than the RoaNotes and possessed more resources.
“Even though we didn’t have the resources of larger schools that had marching band style choreography, we still put on a quality performance. We consistently scored 4 out of 5 in professionalism,” said Warfford.
Preparation for this competition began over a month in advance. The RoaNotes started out practicing about three days a week, then practicing nearly every day in the week leading up to the contest.
“Pretty much everyone in the group is willing to do whatever it takes to get ready for such a big competition,” said Warfford.
The contest was somewhat different than what the RoaNotes are typically used to, but they put in the time and effort to adapt to the competitive environment.
“Compared to choir where you follow along with a piano or organ, with a capella you’re relying on your fellow teammates to achieve the results you want,” said freshman Senn Boswell.
For the RoaNotes, a capella isn’t just a hobby- it’s a passion.
“You can tell that our members love singing and making music. We were singing in the van all the way down and all the way back. Many Pitch Perfect jokes were made on this trip,” said Boswell.
The competition was a unique experience that represents the culmination of months of practice and preparation.
“It’s a full-on show and it’s really cool to just be a part and see the other teams perform,” said Boswell.
The Roanotes are the only mixed a capella group at Roanoke College. They have competed in the quarter finals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella for the past four years in a row. The group usually performs for a variety of charities and organizations both on and off the RC campus.
“It’s fascinating that you can have a whole musical performance with no instruments and just people,” said Gold.
If you love singing and you’re interested in a capella, consider auditioning for the RoaNotes in the fall. Interested students should contact Owen Gold at email@example.com.