For the first time since the competition’s founding in 1996, the Bostonians of Boston College will perform at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) Northeast Quarterfinals on Feb. 18.
The Bostonians will take the stage at Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center and compete against a cappella groups from other universities within the Northeast—including BU, the University of Vermont, and Brown University—for a spot in the Northeast Semifinal on March 26.
The ICCA, featured in the Pitch Perfect films, includes performances from over 400 groups organized into nine different regions. The tournament follows a bracket system with quarterfinal, semifinal, and final rounds. The semifinal will be held in the Berklee Performance Center at Berklee College of Music and the finals will take place in The Town Hall in New York City.
BC Dynamics, another coed a capella group on campus, competed at the ICCA in 2022.
The goal of the ICCA is to encourage growth and form long-lasting friendships within groups as they work together toward a common goal, according to its website.
Katy McBride, co-publicity director for the Bostonians and MCAS ’25, said the Bostonians are enthusiastic about the opportunity to compete in the ICCA, especially considering it is the group’s first time competing.
“We were BC’s first [a capella] group, so we’ve been around,” McBride said. “This is our 36th year, but the group has never done ICCA so we’re really excited to kind of bring the group up to that new level of competition.”
According to the ICCA website, the competition’s judges provide scores for vocal performance and visual performance. The judges also rank their top three teams, with first, second, and third place corresponding to a point total that is added to groups’ vocal and visual performance scores.
The Bostonians have been working with members from the Dance Organization of Boston College (DOBC) to develop choreography for the visual aspect of the competition.
This is not the Bostonians’ first time working with DOBC, as the group performed its ICCA setlist live for the first time at DOBC’s show, Reputation, on Feb. 3 and 4, according to McBride.
McBride said adding choreography to its performance has been a new and exciting experience for the group.
“I know other generations [of Bostonians] would incorporate smaller dance moves into their cafe shows, but we’re doing, like, all out choreography … that’s something we’ve never really done as a group,” McBride said. “We’ve usually been more focused on the sound, but it’s been so fun and everyone’s just going into it with an open mind. Everyone’s excited.”
Avery Savage and Beatrice Hesse, both DOBC members and MCAS ’25, choreographed the Bostonians’ performance and have been working with the group to perfect it.
Savage said she and Hesse have faced challenges while developing the choreography.
“Bea and I both had never choreographed for DOBC before either, so this was our first time doing this,” Savage said.
Not only was it their first time choreographing, but Savage and Hesse had to take into consideration that the Bostonians would be singing and dancing simultaneously on stage.
“We don’t want to give them too much rhythmic movement to throw them off from singing and stuff,” Savage said. “So we definitely had more boundaries to keep in mind so it took us a little bit longer to try and figure out new things. But we tried to really focus on formations and, like, walking patterns instead, so, I think that worked out.”
Lauren Lee, a member of the Bostonians and CSOM ’23, said working with DOBC members has been a helpful experience, as she initially had apprehensive feelings about learning choreography.
“I think definitely at the onset of learning that we had to do choreography we were all a little bit nervous,” Lee said. “But being able to work with actual dancers has helped a lot. … It’s been really great being able to run it with everyone together.”
McBride said the group’s chemistry and tight bond will help it stand out among other groups at the ICCA.
“Yes, we are a singing group, we love to perform and that’s how we all came together, but beyond that, it really does feel like a family,” McBride said. “We do retreats, we go on tour together, so I think that element of closeness and the amount of respect and care we have for each other will really shine through in our performance.”
Correction (2/17/23, 5:30 p.m.): This article previously stated that the Bostonians performed their ICCA setlist at DOBC’s show, Reputation, on Feb. 3 and 4. It was updated to state that the Bostonians only performed at the show on Feb. 3.