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Four ETSU a cappella ensembles to compete in ICCA quarterfinals

Contributed • Jan 17, 2020 at 6:38 PM

Four a cappella ensembles from East Tennessee State University will compete in the South Region quarterfinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella on Jan. 25.

ETSU’s Greyscale, Swashbucklers, Harmonium and Ascension will compete against five ensembles from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and one from the University of Memphis in the quarterfinal, which will be held on the UT campus in Knoxville.

According to Varsity Vocals, which coordinates the ICCA and other a cappella tournaments, more than 250 colleges and universities from across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom will be represented in this year’s competition.

Three to five quarterfinals will be held in each of nine regions, with the first- and second-place winners of each quarterfinal advancing to regional semifinals. Regional semifinal winners and wild card selections will go on to the finals, which will be held in New York.

“This is the first time we’ve had more than one ETSU group in the competition, and having all four is great,” said Dr. Alan Stevens, associate professor and associate director of choral activities in the ETSU Department of Music.

“It’s very unusual that a quarterfinal is basically just two or three schools, but ETSU and UTK have so many groups now that it works out that way. In the past, the quarterfinal we compete in has included schools from the Nashville area, such as Vanderbilt University, Belmont University and Middle Tennessee State, but those schools all ended up in a quarterfinal in Athens, Georgia, this time.”

ETSU’s Swashbucklers competed in the ICCA quarterfinal in 2018, and Greyscale took Best Soloist and Best Vocal Percussion honors during the 2019 quarterfinal.

Greyscale, which is directed by Stevens and performs a blend of jazz, pop, folk and classical styles, is the premier a cappella ensemble in the ETSU Department of Music and has become a recognized success on the campus and throughout the region.

The group’s many performances include shows in New York and Washington, D.C., and it has released three albums – the self-titled debut album, “Spectrum” and “5 Alive” – as well as a number of singles and EPs.

The men’s ensemble Swashbucklers, women’s ensemble Harmonium and the mixed ensemble Ascension are all student-led and perform various types of music.