“Do it because you love it” — that’s the motto of the Amateurs, one of Washington University in St. Louis’ a cappella groups.
Last month, the Amateurs competed in the Midwest Quarterfinals for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). The Amateurs, alongside Washington University’s Mosaic Whispers, are now preparing for the ICCA Midwest Semifinals on Saturday, April 1, at the 560 Music Center.
In addition to advancing to the Midwest Semifinals, junior Kaitie McGary won “outstanding soloist” for her performance in the Amateurs’ rendition of “Bass Song” by Eryn Allen Kane. Here, McGary discusses the a cappella experience at Washington University, from rehearsals to performances.
How did the Amateurs decide to compete in ICCAs?
We were intentional coming into the ICCA season, even when deciding whether we wanted to participate. The process began with us thoroughly discussing if we were interested in participating in the first place while also expressing our concerns, our hopes, what excited us and what we wanted out of this process, and every single member had to voice a desire to compete.
What is rehearsing for ICCAs like? Is it different than a concert?
We began rehearsing for ICCAs by mutually agreeing on four songs that we felt best fit our group right now, arranging them, then learning them and creating choreography that communicated the story we wanted to tell on stage. I would say the main difference between ICCAs and a concert is learning choreography and having a smaller set of songs to rehearse. Still, our attention to minute detail follows us through preparing for ICCA, gigs or concerts.
Do you ever get nervous performing?
I definitely do! There’s always the thought of, ‘Oh, will I mess up? Will I sing this part wrong, or will my voice crack?’ I don’t think there’s ever been a moment I wasn’t feeling a little nervous before performing, but what has helped the most has been finding little ways to ground myself in the moment, whether that be silent reassurance to myself or finding a familiar face in the audience.
How did it feel to win ‘outstanding soloist’?
I definitely didn’t expect it, but it was a really, really cool moment because it felt like the culmination of all the hours and work invested paid off. However, I was more emotional and excited when we placed second in the quarterfinals because our journey together felt even more special. That will likely be one of my favorite college memories because I recognized how special the people in my group were and how amazing a privilege it was to perform with this group.