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A cappella groups get insider tips
By Jingyuan Fu

Campus Correspondent

Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 23:09

There was a nervous excitement in the Jorgensen theatre Friday night as the popular a cappella group Pentatonix critiqued the performances of UConn a cappella groups. “We’re all Pentatonix fans,” said Brittney Galeaz, sophomore communications major and president of the a cappella group Notes Over Storrs. “Plus, we’re a young group. This competition is a way of getting the name out.”

That particular sentiment seemed to be shared by all the UConn a cappella groups. Pentatonix won the NBC a cappella competition “The Sing-Off” in 2011, and their success continued with the release of an EP in 2012. The four members of the group present, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstie Maldonaldo and Avi Kaplan served as judges for the competition. They were received with cheers and applause when introduced. At the end of the night, they would select an a cappella group that would open for their performance on Saturday.

Each group performed two songs, usually consisting of a soloist singing the main tune while the other singers served as the background music. After each performance, the judges offered critique on the routine based on aspects such as tuning, background vocals, buildup, beat boxing, tempo and dynamics. Each member of Pentatonix focused on different sections of the performance. For example, Avi Kaplan focused on the bass and beat boxing parts because that is his specialty.

The competition began with a performance by the Chordials, an all-female group. They received praise for their musical diversity but were criticized for the repetitiveness of their background parts.

Some groups, such as the all-male Completely Different Note, chose to incorporate choreography into their performances and received loud cheers. Other groups, like A Minor, which performed a Beyoncé medley, were praised for their onstage chemistry.

The penultimate show of the evening was a performance by the Conn Men, another all-male group. For once, the Pentatonix members seemed to have little to criticize.

“My writing kept getting bigger because I got more and more excited,” Mitch Grassi said after their performance of Boyz II Men’s “Thank You” and the other judges seemed to agree, praising the group’s showmanship and stage presence.

Two high school a cappella groups performed while the judges left to deliberate. While the East Catholic performance featured conventional pop songs, the E. O. Smith group proved to be rather unorthodox by singing an Italian madrigal and a Christian spiritual.

The members of Pentatonix ultimately decided to select the Conn Men to open their performance on Saturday, but they praised every single performance and encouraged each group to continue working hard. The audience agreed with their praise.

“It was awesome and I loved it,” said Lucas Lee, a 5th-semester marketing major. “Some of the solos were amazing and everyone is really talented.”