The Tar Heel Voices, UNC’s oldest co-ed a cappella group, is preparing to compete at the quarterfinal level in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella on Saturday at the Carolina Theatre in Durham. This will be the group’s first appearance at the ICCAs in five years.
“It’s something we vote on every year,” said junior Molly Smith, co-business manager for the group. “It’s a really big time commitment, which is the reason we haven’t done it recently. This year, we voted on it and decided it would be an awesome opportunity.”
Once THV made their decision to compete, they had to organize their set. Each group gets 12 minutes for their performance, which includes both singing and choreography.
The group’s two co-music directors, Peyton Chance and Brian Shurney, in addition to assistant conductor Faith Jones, usually take the lead when it comes to the musical direction of the Tar Heel Voices. In the case of the ICCAs, however, the whole group played a role.
“Pretty much everyone was involved in the music selection for the ICCAs,” said Jones. “We tried to keep a good theme throughout the songs. For some reason, in our voting process, everyone was drawn to darker songs that are in minor keys, but there is still a side of hope to the set.”
The 17 members decided to perform three songs: “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, “Used” by Wyvern Lingo and “If I Go” by Ella Eyre. The set will also feature the beginning of “Carry Me Home” by The Sweeplings as a transition.
“We wanted to have something that was contemporary and fresh,” Jones said. “Realistically we also had to think about who are the voices that we want to showcase.”
The group has been rehearsing intensely this semester in preparation for the competition. First-year Nicholas Batman joined the group in the fall and recognizes the pressure that he and his fellow THV members are under.
“Most groups start practicing for this in September,” Batman said. “We didn’t really get started on that until about a month ago, so that led to stress and some edginess within the group, but we’ve done well for the time that we’ve had.”
THV will be one of 10 groups to take the stage on Saturday, facing competition from schools such as Duke University and North Carolina State University. The groups that place in the top two positions will have the opportunity to move on to semifinals for the South Region.
All members of the group remain cautiously optimistic about how they will place.
“Definitely, at first, I just hoped that we would place in the top three,” Batman said. “Now that we’ve gone through a lot of rehearsing and practicing, I really think we can win. We definitely have the ability.”
For THV, their feelings toward the ICCAs are similar to how an athlete might feel before a big game.
“To me, a cappella is like a team sport,” Jones said. “I never did sports growing up so this was always my way of feeling like I belonged to a group, and we had a common goal that we were achieving. Every player is just as important as another, and there is no star. It’s all about teamwork.”
Yet, no matter what happens on Saturday, the group is simply content to have gone through this experience together.
“I think there is something really special about making music with a group of people,” Smith said. “It’s just really an incredible feeling when you can come together afterward and know that you impacted people.”
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