‘The recognition is so gratifying’: The ChapTones talk ICCA Quarterfinal victory

Chapman a cappella group, The ChapTones, will perform at the ICCA Southwest Semifinal March 30 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gabriella Anderson

Maybe you’re a big Panic! at the Disco fan. But can you imagine listening to “High Hopes” several times a session, three sessions a week, for nearly three months? Now, imagine doing that without any music. That’s what The ChapTones, one of Chapman’s a cappella groups, did to come in first place Feb. 24 at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) Southwest Quarterfinal.

“It was surreal. I know how much potential we have and how much we worked to get to where we are; it means a lot,” said sophomore Sanaz Bashiri, a vocal performance major and the assistant music director and vice president of The ChapTones.

The group competed against nine different college a cappella teams at the quarterfinal and qualified to perform at the ICCA Southwest Semifinal March 30 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, Arizona.     

The ensemble’s 17 group members rehearsed their parts individually over winter break. Once interterm started, they began to practice together. For three weeks they sharpened up their blend with each other and worked on their choreography up until the competition. The set they performed included covers of “Homemade Dynamite” by Lorde and “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco, along with original music.

“Imagine listening to a song, starting from winter break until now,” Bashiri said.

Members would begin their practices with short games or talk about their lives to avoid getting caught up with the stress of the competition.

“We’re just a group of people from all different backgrounds, all over the place, who share a love for music and come together to just share that passion with each other and everybody else,” said junior Emma Ballen, the choreographer for The ChapTones and a business administration major.

The a cappella group tries to create art that people can be emotionally invested in, said Ballen.

“For everything we put into the set, getting the recognition is so gratifying,” said Avery Roberts, the music director for The ChapTones.

Last year, the group made the choice to diverge from their typical competition set. Previous sets began with an uptempo song, followed by a more emotional song and closing with an upbeat song to hype up the audience. This year, Roberts created a set called “recoveryisnonlinear.’

“The songs told a story of somebody who fought their way back up to a higher spot and then fell further than they had before,” Roberts said. “It is a personal story not just for me, but for a lot of the people in our group.”

The team’s set used 60 percent of the a cappella members’ original music, an uncommon choice in the a cappella community.

“In recording, pitch, rhythm and tone – those are all things you can fix in post, but you can’t fix a passionless performance,” Roberts said. “And The ChapTones, we perform with so much passion, you can tell there is feeling behind our words.”