Lizzy McAlpine, Jonah Nilsson and Imogen Heap could not appear to have a lot in frequent apart from their singer-songwriter occupation. However Stanford’s oldest all-gender a cappella group, Combined Firm (Combined Co), introduced collectively compositions by every artist of their victorious 2023 West Regional Worldwide Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) quarterfinal efficiency. The group positioned first within the competitors this previous month on the Fox Theater in Redwood Metropolis, CA on Feb. 18.
Scoring a formidable 363 factors, Combined Co swept the competitors. The group was adopted carefully behind by College of California, Berkeley’s California Golden Overtones with 360 factors. Third place went to Stanford’s Mendicants, with 299 factors.
Every a cappella set is scored primarily based on each its vocal and visible performances, together with every particular person decide’s subjective rating of the group as an entire. Parts of vocal efficiency embrace steadiness, rhythmic accuracy, intonation, tone and diction. Visible efficiency scores draw from the choreography and its visible cohesiveness, creativity and power, amongst different components.
To be able to put together a robust efficiency on the ICCAs, Combined Co members started the preparation throughout the summer season of 2022, in line with Combined Co Music Director Zoey Hu ’24. Hu labored alongside their fellow Assistant Music Administrators Richard Yuan ’25 and Brian Pham ’24 to search out songs that may match right into a coherent program and show the group’s skills for the ten minute set.
“I feel the set is an important side of the ICCA competitors since you get 10 minutes and that’s a tough restrict,” Hu mentioned. “You actually need to make good, intentional decisions about what songs you place in a set.”
The group’s set opened with Imogen Heap’s playful “Good Night time n Go,” organized beneath Hu’s management. The second tune was Lizzy McAlpine’s angsty “Erase Me,” organized by Yuan. Jonah Nilsson’s jazz cowl of “Unhealthy” by Michael Jackson closed off the group’s efficiency and was co-arranged by Pham and previous Music Director Eric Hatch ’23.
Pham and Hatch’s association of “Unhealthy” earned the group the particular award of “Excellent Association.” Since this was the set’s concluding tune, they needed to make it “actually excessive power and a crowd pleaser,” Pham mentioned.
Whereas these necessities of the association introduced challenges, Hatch enjoys sharing his interpretation of pop music with Combined Co members via the method.
“I discover numerous pleasure in getting the group to sing my interpretations of songs,” Hatch mentioned. “To deliver these [ideas] to life is absolutely particular.”
On the identical time, actions that accompany an a capella group’s vocal efficiency aren’t any much less difficult. A cappella choreography wants to include bodily actions in a method that doesn’t hinder vocal performances. This was a problem that Efficiency Supervisor Naomi Solomon ’25 found as she got here up with the choreography — formations, it turned out, had been a key answer.
“I spotted that formations are all the things as a result of, once you don’t actually have the flexibility to do large, difficult or intricate actions individually, the best way to do it’s to have actually easy strikes, however make it look actually cool from afar,” Solomon mentioned. “I feel group motion is principally all of a cappella.”
Combined Co members had been inspired by their victory within the Western Area ICCA quarterfinals for the second yr in a row. For brand new member Nick Bukovich ’26, the victory got here as a pleasing shock.
“We genuinely had no thought [that we won], as a result of they introduced third place first, after which second,” Bukovich mentioned. “There have been 9 extra teams that hadn’t gotten their title learn, and any considered one of us might have been first, so the victory simply got here as an absolute shock.”
“[I had] no expectations, didn’t know which method it was going to go, however as soon as we received, I used to be very blissful,” Bukovich added.
As Combined Co now seems to be forward to the semifinal spherical of the ICCA’s in Salem, Ore. on Mar. 25, the group continues to shine up their efficiency and work towards having enjoyable throughout their set.
“A part of having fun with the expertise is to ship a efficiency that basically displays our skills as a bunch,” Yuan mentioned. “That comes with engaged on some tuning, cleansing up choreography.”
Yuan expressed confidence within the upcoming competitors: “That is all in order that after we drive 11 hours to Salem and carry out for 1000 individuals, we really feel like it’s price it. And I’d say we’re undoubtedly on observe to try this.”