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Prepare To Get Pitch-Slapped By The Coda Conduct

For those who watched the movie “Pitch Perfect,” you know all about the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella, or the ICCAs for short. The ICCAs are a competition where a capella groups from different colleges and universities compete against one another. In a battle of harmony and song mashups, the groups fight to be named the number one a capella group in the nation.

Luckily for a cappella fans, the ICCAs are in fact real. Just like in the movie, groups across the nation compete for the title of No. 1 a capella group. This past February, Penn State hosted the ICCA Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinal where a capella groups from Elizabethtown College, Dickinson College, York College of PA, and of course Penn State competed for first and second place to advance on to the semifinals.

Ten groups competed in Eisenhower Auditorium and two of Penn State’s finest got the opportunity to advance and compete at Drexel University for the ICCA Mid-Atlantic Semifinal. The Coda Conduct and the Pennharmonics secured the spots, getting first and second place respectively. This past week, I had the opportunity to sit down with the President of the Coda Conduct, Esther Park, and ask a few questions about a capella and the ICCAs.

For Coda Conduct, the path to a first place finish at the Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinal was quicker than expected. Only two and a half years old, the group was founded to do a capella mash-ups of popular songs while also mixing it up with songs that might not get enough Top 40 attention. The group has performed at THON since its creation, along with playing in front of the Family Clothesline on football weekends. This past year, they were even invited to perform at President’s Convocation, but the main prize was always winning at ICCAs.

“We’ve been competing in ICCAs since our establishment and we’ve come a long way… Drawing to our third year, we have veterans in the group that competed in past ICCAs which helped us as far as taking that experience and building on to it,” Park said. “That musicality, experience, and overall cohesiveness of the group was what won us the ICCA Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals.”

Although it’s a huge time commitment, the group chose to pursue a run at the title. Picking the right combination of songs and choreography are the keys to impressing the judges, and this year was no different for the group.

“After we committed, we had to choose a good combination of songs that would showcase our best talents. As a group, Coda does really well with energetic, power songs that are also a little dark at some points,” Park said. “Those songs allow us to be emotive so we really looked for songs that we could speak through. Once the arrangement was chosen we practiced and memorized the music after which we would apply the choreography. It’s a lengthy process and definitely not easy, but it’s rewarding to see the final product.”

Those songs allowed them to beat out their local rivals, including the Pennharmonics in the quarterfinals, but this weekend the group will head to Philadelphia to keep their run alive at the Mid-Atlantic Semifinals. Coda Conduct will compete against ten groups from nine schools, including the Pennharmonics. Groups from the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, and the Westminster Choir College will try to get in Coda Conduct’s way of reaching the finals. Only one team will be able to attend, but Coda Conduct’s performances won’t end in Philadelphia if they don’t win.

“The great thing about a capella music is that it fits anywhere,” said Park. “You can take it to a fashion show, a charity event, a fundraising event, you can bring music anywhere and that’s the beauty of it.”

For those yet to see Coda Conduct, here’s a video of their performance at last year’s ICCA Regional Quarterfinal:

About the Author

Steffen Blanco

Steffen is a senior majoring in Criminology & Sociology and hails from East Stroudsburg, PA (Poconos). When he's not taking photos, you can find him at either the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, taking long walks with his Pokemon, or playing video games (League/Overwatch) Just follow him on Twitter/Instagram (@SteffenBlanco) or shoot an email to [email protected] if you have any questions.

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