A Cappella group prepares for regional competition

Coming off its highest tournament finish since the program’s inception 10 years ago, Genuine Imitation, KU’s premiere A Cappella group is primed for a semifinal showdown on March 20.

The group will compete against the Midwest region’s top-five performing clubs in the annual International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella, or ICCA.

Genuine Imitation, KU’s A Cappella will be going to the semifinals on March 20. They will compete against 216 different teams.

Genuine Imitation, KU’s a cappella will be going to the regional semifinals on March 20. The group will compete against 216 different teams.

The 17-member program defeated other groups across the region last Saturday on its way to a second place finish in the quarterfinals of the ICCA at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.

Nationally, 216 teams compete in the quarterfinals to master the fields of intonation, blend, soloist performance, choreography and musical arrangement. In a 12-minute routine, Genuine Imitation has made KU history with its now award-winning mash-up.

Chris Salavitch, the group’s music director and a junior from Lansing, recalls the moment it won the second place ribbon.

“It was overwhelming for sure,” he said. “I felt extreme happiness and validation that all the hard work going in really made us into something worth considering for placing.”

From the chorus of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses to the vocal percussionist who supplied the choir’s instrumental-sounding hip-hop and drum beats, all cylinders clicked in rhythm to outlast competitive teams from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

Andrew Shaw, a member of the group and a junior from Shawnee, likens the ICCA to the competition in the movie “Pitch Perfect,” but he acknowledges that the team aspect that is evolved from the music-making process could never be captured on the silver screen alone.

And members claim group cohesion as the reason for snagging the coveted hardware on Saturday.

“The run we had this year was due to our great soloists,” Shaw said. “We’ve always been good in this area … but for the first time in Jayhawk history, we grabbed best soloist performance at the competition, a landmark for the future success of Kansas A cappella.”

But harmony didn’t come without practice. In fact, it was the trials preceding the competition that molded Genuine Imitation into the prize-winning program it has become.

At the beginning of the year, the program lost four veteran members to various commitments. A hole, inconceivable at the time, developed.

“We had auditions halfway through the semester,” Salavitch said. “We lost a few people. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like without them. It hasn’t been perfect. It’s been a learning experience.”

Today, they look back on the setback as definitive with four new members on board who helped them defeat the Mizzou squad in Springfield.

“In establishing that bond, it’s surprising how the dynamic of the group can change how we individually sing,” Salavitch said. “The new people melded into the group. That’s one of the biggest reasons we did so well here.”

Despite the accolades, members agree that at the core of the experience is the camaraderie. They note that their efforts may have been all for naught had the group lacked the melodic diversity that highlighted the team’s strengths.

“It’s an interesting mish-mash of people,” said Matt Russell, business director of Genuine Imitation and a junior from Topeka. “You get a bunch of different majors. We have people from all over from different backgrounds. It’s a very interesting dynamic. It’s fun, but it’s fun in a different way.”

The group recognizes the workload ahead of them in the run-up to the regional semifinal and national competitions. But six-hour weekend rehearsals and upcoming philanthropic events in Lawrence, Kansas City and Topeka in the next few weeks are aimed to pare down the team’s rougher edges.

And with competition on their radar such as a Nebraska squad that, last weekend, accumulated more points than any other team in the nation, this will be a crucial element to fulfilling their search for a satisfying close to the year.

“We’re going to have some work to do before then, but I think we can do it,” Russell said. “We can go all the way to nationals. All we need is a shot.”

  • Updated Feb. 18, 2013 at 11:51 pm
  • Edited by Jordan Wisdom