After attending the event four years in a row, Loyola’s co-ed, competitive a cappella group, Counterpoint, placed for the first time in a competition, winning third place at this year’s International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) Great Lakes Quarterfinal Feb. 3.
Counterpoint’s music director, junior Daria Derda, was nominated by all five judges for Best Arrangement of all songs in the set. Junior Taylor Beck, alongside first-year Reese Bailey, received nominations for best soloist for their solos in the mashup of “Greedy” by Ariana Grande and “Tears” by Clean Bandit.
The entire team attended the Great Lakes Quarterfinal, with the exception of sophomore Joey Delaney, who’s studying abroad in Australia this semester, according to member senior Joseph Kraemer.
The Great Lakes Quarterfinal, which took place at Illinois State University in Bloomington, Illinois, is the first of three events in the bracket system at the ICCA, the same competition made well-known by the a cappella movie “Pitch Perfect.” Counterpoint competed against nine other college groups from Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan in the quarterfinal. Each group performed a 12 minute set in front of judges who announced the top three groups. Of those winners, the top two groups advanced to the semifinals, according to Derda.
“This is one of the first times we got recognized for something,” Derda said. “I remember the producer called our name [to announce the win] … and we all kind of froze because we didn’t know what to do. That moment was really memorable because it was awesome hearing people go, ‘Oh, are you Counterpoint?’ We’ve never gotten that experience before.”
Counterpoint is one of Loyola’s five a cappella groups, alongside LUC Raag, Loyola’s first co-ed, ethnic a cappella group; Loyolacappella, Loyola’s first a cappella group formed in 1996; Aca’Fellas, an all-male group; and the Silhouettes, an all-female group.
Counterpoint was founded in 2014 after branching out from Loyolacappella to compete in more competitions and focus on more small group arrangements, according to Derda. In addition to competitions, Counterpoint performs a concert for Loyola students — its next concert is April 14 — as well as occasional free events throughout Chicago to publicize its name and music.
“It felt amazing just to know that all of our hard work paid off. It’s the best the group has ever done,” Bailey said. “It’s cool to see that progression … and it made me really hopeful for future years and future competitions to know that we’ll be getting better and working harder.”
Counterpoint is comprised of students from a variety of educational backgrounds, with majors ranging from biology to computer science, who all share a love for music.
“I have a really great passion for music, and it’s a way for me to express myself unlike any other,” Kraemer said. “I’m an accounting major, but if [singing] were to relate, it would be me expressing myself in a non-binary way.”
The group members vote to choose which songs to rehearse. As music director, Derda is in charge of arranging the music for the group.
“The way we usually like to do our music is putting two things where you think, ‘That’s not going to go together,’ and then fusing them into one package,” Derda said.
The group performed two mashups, arranged by Derda: the “Greedy” and “Tears” mashup and “Show Must Go On” by Queen combined with “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics. Kraemer performed a solo of “Heavenly Father” by Bon Iver, which Derda said was so beautiful it almost left her in tears of joy. All arrangements for the Great Lake Quarterfinal were choreographed by first-year Rachel Groth.
“It was a really good feeling to get up in front of all of those people with my group supporting me and having the confidence in me to perform well,” Kraemer said. “It was a very overall spiritual feeling being up there and performing that song.”
Counterpoint will compete in the Chicago-area Harmony Sweepstakes, an annual national showcase and competition of a cappella, March 24. The finalists will advance to the finals in San Francisco, where the winner will be awarded an album deal. The group will be performing a free concert April 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Wintrust Hall at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus.
To join Counterpoint, potential members go through an audition process and new members are selected upon receiving a unanimous approval from current members. Counterpoint will be holding its next audition in fall 2018.