Senior Ithacapella president Christopher Rossi has been performing with the group since he was a freshman. The group placed fourth in the world in the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella, held last month at New York’s Lincoln Center. Assistant Accent Editor Patrick Doyle spoke to Rossi about the group’s performance.
Patrick Doyle: You guys just competed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. Can you describe the competition to me?
Christopher Rossi: Out of the hundreds of groups we placed fourth in the entire competition, but we were named the best all male a capella group in the competition this year.
PD: What were you thinking right before you went on?
CR: Me, personally, I was thinking it was going to be the last time I was going to be wearing my blue Ithacapella blazer because I’m a senior this year. … I’ve been in the group for four years so it was kind of sentimental for me. … It hit me more going into Avery Fisher Hall for the first time for the sound check, like walking out onto that stage and just looking into the huge performance space. [I] was just in awe. It’s one of the most renowned performance halls in the world and I had never personally been there so it just took me by surprise and a lot of the other guys who hadn’t been there by surprise as well. But we didn’t let that get to our heads.
PD: How do you engage an audience at Lincoln Center?
CR: Let me tell you it was tough, [looking out] and just seeing thousands of people sitting there. Plus after them hearing tons of a capella music already they were already kind of bored. But let me tell you in the atmosphere there, where nobody acknowledged them, they were inching for somebody to just acknowledge them and to get them to yell or whatever. So as soon as I opened my mouth and asked everybody how they’re doing tonight and just started talking to them and acknowledging them, [they] opened up and received us very, very well. And then from then on they laughed at everything we did onstage.
PD: You had 12 minutes to perform. What material did you guys choose?
CR: Well, yeah like you said, every group gets 12 minutes so you can do anything you want in those 12 minutes. I mean you can literally go onstage and if you wanted, play with yo-yos. It doesn’t matter, but I mean you can choose any songs that you want. We did three songs this year. We started with an arrangement of The Temptations song “Get Ready,” then we moved into Green Day’s “Welcome to Paradise,” and then we ended our set with a Stevie Wonder song called “Isn’t She Lovely,” so we had three pretty solid songs and a really well rounded set, which we were pretty happy with.
PD: How do you think the dynamic in the group has changed with eight graduating members last year and all the new members this year?
CR: Our group this year is very young so we had the opportunity to kind of mold them in the way that we couldn’t do in the past. I’m a big advocate of just not standing onstage and singing and looking like cardboard. [You] need to be animated and you need to have a lot of charisma and showmanship. We molded that into the guys right from the start. So we have a bunch of goofy bastards onstage just having a great old time, and with groups in the past its been very hard to convey excitement … These guys are not afraid to move onstage and they’re not afraid to make fools of themselves. Because a capella is goofy as it is and they have to realize that people are already laughing at us, so lets just go all the way and just put on a great show.
PD: What can we expect from your show this weekend?
CR: This weekend, well, it’s our last show of the year. It’s kind of our grand finale, if you will. We are saying goodbye to four seniors, I am one of them … It’s going to be a little bit longer of a show than we usually do cause we have a lot of little fun things that we’re going to be doing. We give out awards, and it’s a very sentimental evening for the guys. This weekend too, [we get to] display some new lights and some new special little machines to show off all the new gizmos and gadgets that Emerson Suites has. So we’ll get to be adding more to our show visually this time, too. We have a nice blend of choral music as well as pop music. Its going to be very different from the three other shows we’ve had this year.
Ithacappella will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday in Emerson Suites. Admission is free.