Wocks take second at a cappella competition

Monday, March 6, 2006

Though the Jabberwocks clocked nearly 21 hours in rehearsal time last week, they won’t be able to relax for long. The group received second place at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella regional quarterfinals, held Saturday in a full Salomon 101, and will now advance to the regional semifinals. The N’Harmonics, a coed group from New York University, placed first.

The Higher Keys, Brown’s coed a cappella group with a half-jazz repertoire, also competed. Group member Drew Nobile ’07 received the award for outstanding arrangement.

The Jabberwocks, dressed in their signature navy blue blazers, were the only all-male group in the competition.

They performed two songs: “Tonight, Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins, with Jon Tam ’08 as the soloist, and Talib Kweli’s “Get By,” which had three soloists: Andy Suzuki ’09, Stuart Gibbs ’06 and Graham Browne ’08. Suzuki sang the lead line, Gibbs rapped and Browne provided his own style of multi-layered beat-boxing, warning the audience before the song began, “We’re gonna take you to the fourth dimension of hip-hop: the DJ turntable.” The Jabberwocks won the outstanding choreography award for “Get By.”

“It feels terrific,” said Sam Carmichael ’07, the Jabberwocks’ music director. “It was great to have success at home in front of a really supportive audience. I’m so proud of my guys. They really came through.”

The N’Harmonics brought the audience, composed of students and performers’ family members, to a standing ovation after their encore performance, a medley that blended Madonna’s “Vogue” and “Like a Prayer.” The coed group competed with three songs: James Taylor’s “Sun on the Moon,” “The Wind” by P.J. Harvey and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for which junior Anjali Gudi was awarded an outstanding soloist honor.

For Roe Hartrampf, a freshman at NYU, this winning performance was only his second appearance with the N’Harmonics.

“It was amazing,” he said. “It was absolute elation. We’re coming at it from a different perspective this year. We’re working on being more dynamic.”

Joanna Lampert, an NYU junior, agreed about the group’s new direction and said members are growing more focused.

“There was no way we were a shoe-in,” added Tim Noble, a sophomore at NYU.

The competing groups – which also included the all-female Barnard College Bacchantae, the all-female Mandarins from Syracuse University and the all-female Blue Notes and Tupelos, both from Wellesley College – were seven of the top 24 groups in the Northeast. Hundreds of groups from the United States and western Europe sent in applications last May to qualify for the quarterfinal regional competitions. At Saturday night’s competition, which was the quarterfinal round for the Northeast region, groups were judged on vocal performance (with sub-categories such as rhythmic accuracy, interpretation and tone quality) and visual performance (which included visual cohesiveness, professionalism and stage presence). The Brown Derbies and Ursa Minors hosted the event, which ran for close to three hours.

The Jabberwocks will compete at the Northeast semifinals on March 25 at Fordham University in New York.

“We got second, so we can clearly improve,” Jonathan Natkins ’08, a Jabberwock, said. “We’ve shown that if we have faith in each other, we can do some crazy stuff.”

Suzuki said he was impressed with the N’Harmonics, but added the Jabberwocks are ready for the next stage.

“NYU is tight,” he said. “They’re great, but we’re going to take it to ’em the only way we know how: Jabber-style.”