Yale’s list of a cappella groups gained a new name this semester, Cadence of Yale — Undergraduate A Cappella.
Started by Cat Lenihan ’22 — a member of Red Hot and Blue — the group is Yale’s first a cappella organization that will compete in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, otherwise known as the ICCA. Lenihan hopes to recruit approximately eight to 14 people for the group and is currently in the process of rolling auditions.
“[Competitive a cappella] is something that I grew up doing,” Lenihan said. “There’s kind of a misconception that it’s all about winning and getting a trophy… It can be that way if you make it super competitive, but for me it’s about the fact that you get to interact with so many different people and share your message. There’s a whole community out there of people who love a cappella and come to see it.”
The ICCA was established in 1996 as a way for collegiate a cappella groups to share their craft and has since expanded to include over 450 groups from nine regions across the United States and Europe, according to the ICCA website. The competition season runs from January through April each year and is broken down into a bracket system including quarterfinals, semifinals and finals which are hosted in the historic Beacon Theater in New York City.
Other a cappella groups at Yale structure their performances around tours, usually including two domestic and one international per year. Lenihan said she hopes that by focusing on competing, rather than touring, Cadence will be an option for students who want to be involved with a group that has a less of a time commitment.
“I don’t want people to have to pick between competitions and touring,” Lenihan said. “I think both are really useful but there’s a balance that you need to find with it too. With Cadence we’re not touring so it’ll be a little bit less of a time commitment [and] we don’t have to raise thousands of dollars to go on tour. It’ll be more focused on the music and the story rather than how we are going to get our budget fulfilled this year.”
Most a cappella groups at Yale are a part of the Yale Singing Group Council. While students cannot participate in more than one singing group within the council, Cadence is not part of the SGC. This means that Yalies who are already affiliated with another a cappella group can still join Cadence while maintaining their current membership.
Lenihan teased that the set she has prepared for the group this year will be centered around raising awareness about mental health issues. The three-song set will include “The Ballad of Me and My Brain” by the 1975, “Darkness Keeps Chasing Me” by Grace VanderWaal and “Reasons Not to Die” by Ryn Weaver.
Response to the new group has been generally positive as many students like Geo Barrios ’22 believe that competitive a cappella brings something new to campus culture.
“I think there’s a benefit to [the competition] model of an a cappella group as much as there is to the model of an a cappella group that Yale sees now,” Barrios said. “I think Cadence will do a good job of filling in that niche market of people who want to do something [both] competitive and group oriented.”
Yale’s oldest a cappella group is the Whiffenpoofs.
Audrey Steinkamp | firstname.lastname@example.org .