Penn a cappella group wins big at international championship

The jazz/pop group, Counterparts, will have now to play at the regional semifinals on March 29

· February 3, 2014, 7:29 pm   ·  Updated February 3, 2014, 11:44 pm

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Counterparts is Penn’s coed jazz and pop a capella group. Last Saturday they won second place at the International Collegiate A Capella Championship


It was like Pitch Perfect, but without the cups.

Counterparts, Penn’s coed jazz and pop a cappella group, placed second at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella quarterfinals held at Drexel University on Saturday.

Out of the 50 groups that competed, Counterparts is one of 10 that will advance to the ICCA semifinals for the Mid-Atlantic region, which will be held on March 29 at Rutgers University.

Counterparts also won two of the four other awards given out that night — College sophomore Lilly Claar won for Outstanding Choreography and College junior and Counterparts president Swaroop Rao walked away with the prize for Outstanding Soloist for “Big White Room.” John Legend, a 1999 College graduate, won the same award in 1997 when he was a member of Counterparts.

“I don’t think I’ve seen Counterparts that excited in my four years at Penn,” Engineering senior and former president of Counterparts Jackson Foster said.

Rao, who is the Performing Arts Council community coordinator and a cappella council chair, said that they were “really crunched for time” in their preparations for the competition, rehearsing arrangements they used for their fall show — the jazz classic “The Lady is a Tramp,” “Big White Room” by Jessie J and “Creep” by Radiohead.

“We all thought we had a shot right after we performed, but we weren’t really sure. There was a lot of nervous energy,” Foster said.

Claar said this performance experience was a bit different because they had to incorporate choreography for the competition, which is not a standard part of their shows. She said she had a bit of experience choreographing for musicals at summer camps, but she was extremely surprised to win an award for her first choreography on such a large scale.

“No one can tell us that we’re awkward and can’t dance anymore,” she said.

Claar could feel the positive response from the audience during their performance, and when the final results were announced, “It was one of the happiest moments of my life,” she said. “I was so surprised.”

“It’s really great to see that we can show the professional quality of the student performing arts at Penn when we have groups like Counterparts able to succeed so well at these competitions,” Wharton senior Chirag Pathre, administrative chair of PAC, said.

Counterparts participated in the ICCA competition in 1997, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005, advancing to the semifinals every year except 2002 .

The Deaftones from Westminster Choir College won first place at the quarterfinals and will also be advancing to the next round of the competition .

The finals of the ICCA competition will be held in April in New York.

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