Stanford’s Mixed Company and the Mendicants competed at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) West quarterfinals at Berkeley on Feb. 8. The Mendicants won the “Best Arrangement” award for their arrangement of “Yesterday” by the Beatles, but neither team placed high enough to advance to the semifinals.
This was the Mendicants’ first time ever competing at the ICCAs, and the Mendicants’ president Myles Keating ’16 remains optimistic about the group’s potential. To him, the ICCAs were less about the actual competition and more about growing as a group. He saw the quarterfinals as an opportunity to improve the Mendicants’ talent and cohesiveness, as well as a way for the members to enjoy themselves.
“We want to compete with ourselves and make ourselves better to show that we can compete on an international stage,” Keating said.
Mixed Company’s president Maggie Goulder ’15 shared similar views about the competition. Unlike the Mendicants, this was Mixed Company’s fourth time competing at the ICCAs, but only two of the group’s current members have competed in the past.
“This is the only chance we really have to get professional feedback on our performance,” Goulder said. “It’s also been really nice to have a concrete goal to work toward.”
Founded in 1996, the ICCAs consist of three rounds beginning with the quarterfinals and gather a cappella groups from colleges across the country and around the world. A panel of judges awards points to groups based on vocal and visual components of their performance including vocal blend, dynamic range and choreography. Teams with the highest scores advance to the semifinals and then the final round. Stanford’s Talisman won the entire competition in 1997.
Competing at the ICCAs requires a cappella groups to fully choreograph their sets — an unfamiliar concept for both Mixed Company and the Mendicants, who are each used to performing in a fixed formation. Nonetheless, the Mendicants’ music director Alexander Ronneburg ’17 was pleased to have the opportunity to use choreography to add another level to their performances.
“The performance that we’re trying to reach for this competition sets the standard for the rest of our repertoire,” Ronneburg said.
He added that he also felt that learning and utilizing choreography would allow the Mendicants to expand their potential.
To prepare for the competition, the Mendicants worked with a cappella expert Deke Sharon, who was the music director for the 2012 film “Pitch Perfect.” Ronneburg and Keating both expressed their excitement about working with Sharon — an excitement they hoped rubbed off on all the other members.
Although the two groups practiced for the ICCAs individually, they are considering collaborating for future performances. Because Mixed Company and the Mendicants already have a friendly relationship, Keating and Goulder believe that working together has the potential to enhance concerts by adding an extra layer of creativity and possibly drawing even larger crowds. They both expressed a desire to see more collaboration within Stanford’s a cappella community.
In addition to competing at the ICCAs, the Mendicants and Mixed Company each have full schedules for the rest of the school year. The Mendicants, who recently performed at their winter concert titled “Scooby Doo! What’s Up Dude?,” are preparing for their spring break tour in London and are working on recording a new studio album of their own.
Mixed Company is performing on Feb. 20 at “Love Sucks,” their annual Valentine’s Day-themed show, as well as planning their service-through-singing tour for spring break. They are also beginning work this month on a new studio album of their own to be released next winter.
Contact Zachary Birnholz at zacharyb ‘at’ stanford.edu.