A crowd of adults and children sat anxiously awaiting Boston College’s Art Fest A Cappella Showcase to start in O’Neill Plaza’s tent. After two years of online performances and events, seven of BC’s a cappella groups stepped onto the stage to showcase their epic arrangements and powerful vocals.
A cappella producers and singers Dan Campagna, Rebecca Vinci-Campagna, and Kevin Cincotta-Guest served as judges to determine which a cappella group put on the best performance.
The A Cappella Showcase competition highlighted the individual talents of each BC group. At the end, the emcees awarded the crowd favorite prize to the Bostonians, while The Common Tones and The Acoustics won best arrangement and critics’ choice, respectively.
The event’s two student emcees stepped out to provide some comic relief as they presented each group that took the stage. One by one, each group stepped up to the stage with its logo shining in the background.
The a cappella groups displayed each of their unique styles in every song selection and outfit choice. Regardless of whether the performers opted to wear all black or full suits or something else entirely, the main attraction was each group’s ability to engage the audience solely with their voices.
The first to perform was Black Experience in America Through Song (B.E.A.T.S), BC’s only R&B and soul a cappella group. The group started off the showcase with an emotional performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” followed by a smooth arrangement of “When I See You” by Fantasia.
Following B.E.A.T.S were The Sharps in their 32nd year as an all-female a cappella ensemble, according to the emcees. The Sharps’ set consisted of arrangements of songs including “Green Eyes” by Joseph and “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen.
Against the Current, BC’s Christian a capella group established in 1999, was next up on stage. Its set focused on the powerful message of perseverance and adoration with songs such as “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys and “Head Above Water” by Avril Lavigne. A sense of calm enveloped the room as the group’s soft melodies reverberated against the tent’s walls.
One of BC’s co-ed groups, The Acoustics, then came in with their signature diverse repertoire. They stunned the audience with their dynamic performances and strong beats, including a medley of Halsey’s “Heaven in Hiding” and “Walls Could Talk” featuring Nico Collins. They followed the medley with “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant and “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5.
The Common Tones, who merge a cappella music with service work in the Greater Boston community, took the stage next. Their set consisted of a spectacularly haunting performance of “Runaway” by Aurora and “Juice” by Lizzo.
Dressed in their iconic blazers and khakis, The Heightsmen took the stage with energetic but suave vibes, performing renditions of “Castaway” by Zac Brown Band and “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae.
Last to perform were The Bostonians, BC’s first a cappella group. Their set consisted mostly of mashups—including a mix of “Needed Me” by Rihanna and “Broken Clocks” by SZA—that showcased the group’s technical ability.
After witnessing one striking performance after the next, the judges handed out the night’s awards and reflected on the community that music can build.
“When you think about it in general, music is a way to connect with people,” Campagna said.
Cincotta-Guest said that song selection was important in the judges’ decisions.
“The arc of the set also plays into it—a strong opener, something that speaks to who the group’s identity is, and then a closer that connects with the audience and shows what they can do,” Cincotta-Guest said.