Emory a cappella group Dooley Noted participated in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) last weekend.
The ICCA is an international competition founded in 1999 by Adam Farb and Deke Sharon. Seven regions including the West, Midwest, South, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, New England and Western Europe compete between January and April annually.
This year’s southern regional competition took place at the University of Georgia. In order to compete, prospective competitors must send in a sample of three songs on a CD and are selected to compete if they exhibit abilities of a high level.
Dooley Noted was the only group from Emory to enter and compete in the ICCA quarterfinal regionals.
Competing against five other schools in the southern region, Dooley Noted won third place after the Accidentals of the University of Georgia who took first and the Sapphires of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro who won second place.
Although only first and second places move on to compete in ICCA semi-finals and then finals, Dooley Noted president Farish Jerman said that the group is very “proud and excited” of their participation in the event and of their achievements in the competition.
“Third place is a big deal, especially for a group that is relatively new,” Jerman explained. “We were one of the youngest groups there.”
Jerman, who has been a member for three years, said that Dooley Noted was founded three and a half years ago in September 2006 and that this is the group’s third competition, the first one off campus.
Previously, the group competed in an improvisation competition last semester at Clairmont Campus, where they won first place, and a nationwide a cappella search hosted by Ben Folds last November.
In addition to Dooley Noted’s third place award, College senior Joe Reiff also won the Outstanding Arrangement award for Michael Buble’s cover of “Feelin’ Good.”
“I was pretty surprised when they announced the award. I feel very honored,” Reiff said. Arrangement is judged based on overall effect and creativity, he said.
Arrangement of music begins with an acoustic song, Jerman said. The song is re-written for vocalists whose parts must maintain the sound of the instruments in the original piece. The goal is for the voices to mimic, for example, the sound of a trumpet, Jerman explained.
“Joe just does what needs to be done,” Jerman said of Reiff, who spent about two to three weeks arranging the song.
In addition to “Feelin’ Good,” Dooley Noted also competed with Ingrid Michaelson’s “Locked Up,” in which Jerman performed as the soloist and James Morrison’s “Wonderful World.”
“The judges are looking for a set that represents a wide repertoire,” Jerman said. Judges, she said, also look for attributes such as strong vocalization and good performance style.
She said that not only did the three pieces chosen feature strong soloists, but also varied in style from song to song.
“All three are fairly recent additions to our repertoire. They’re new enough that we’re not burned out on them,” she said, adding that it was important for the group to enjoy the songs they were singing because it helped calm nerves.
One of the more difficult aspects of the competition was the choreography, Jerman said. Other competitors at ICCA, she said, utilized the entire stage for their choreography, with one group even doing back flips.
“Emory groups don’t really use choreography,” Jerman explained, and added that musical director and College junior Colin Egan spent many late nights coming up with choreography. The hard work paid off, Jerman said, because Dooley Noted received scores of nines and 10s out of 10 from every judge on the choreography component.
Competing is very different from performing, Jerman said.
“It’s not just going out there and doing your best,” she said. “It’s doing your best and being judged against the best.”
The Melodores of Vanderbilt University and the Compulsive Lyres and Southern Harmony of Young Harris College also competed on Saturday.
Reiff said that participating in the competition is going to help the group move forward.
“The thing that was great about [ICCA] is to see how a cappella groups are done at other schools,” Reiff said. “We also got really good feedback from the judges that will help us in the future.”
Although Jerman said that Dooley Noted does not have any more competitions planned this semester, the group is looking forward to participating in more competitions as well as participating in ICCA again.
“It’s absolutely encouragement to do ICCA’s again next year,” Jerman said.
— Contact Alice Chen