All A Cappella Live 2013


On Sunday, April 7, WERS 88.9 FM was pleased to present the 8th Annual A Cappella Live, broadcast from Emerson College’s Cutler Majestic Theatre and presented in front of a nearly sold out audience. The show started at 2 pm, with Emerson student hosts Danielle Pointer and Maria Vivas warming up the crowd. The girls performed an opening sketch, which promptly led into the first number of the show. Emerson College’s own A cappella group, Achoired Taste, performed a special song called “The Rules” which was all about this year’s show, singing, “All A Cappella Live/ we’re here and we’re feeling fine/ five groups put it on the line” to the tune of Mumford & Sons’ “Little Lion Man.” The five groups “putting it on the line” for a $750 check this year were The Chorallaries of MIT, Brandeis Voicemale, Wellesley Widows, Harvard Opportunes, and Columbia Nonsequitur. In addition to these were also four non-competitive groups including the aforementioned Achoired Taste, Emerson A Capellics Anonymous, The Newtones, and Ball in the House.

Before the competition could start, however, the judges had to be introduced. This year, the three judges weighing in on each competitive group’s performance were Naveed Easton, Brendan Buckley, and Dan Campagna. Easton was a member of the Emerson College’s Class of 2012, where he was a member of Noteworthy, Emerson’s oldest A Cappella group; as a member, he spent time arranging and directing, as well as heading the production of two of Noteworthy’s albums. The next judge was Brendan Buckley, a Massachusetts native who graduated from The University of Massachusetts. In addition to his academics, Buckley has risen through the ranks and was recently a part of Boston Opera Collaborative’s “Orpheus in the Underworld.” The third judge was Dan Campagna, the co-founder and business manager of the Boston-based A Cappella group, Fermata Town. Of the three, Buckley was probably the most generous, while Easton seemed to give the most detailed critiques throughout.

However, judge input only went so far – because audience voting was what actually decided the final winners. In house, the clear champions were the Harvard Opportunes, with 493 votes. Columbia Nonsequiter followed up with 153 and Brandeis with 57. Online, however, The Chorallaries of MIT led with 1472 votes, while Brandeis Voicemale brought in 223, and Columbia Nonsequiter followed with 211.  Overall, with the total of house votes and online votes equaling 1,480 votes, The Chorallaries were crowned this year’s winners and given a check for $750.

The Chorallaries of MIT’s winning performance was the first one, and consisted of four musical numbers. First, they opened with Sweedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child.” Second in the set was “Finish What I Start” by The Shadowboxers, and then a rendition of “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars, which maintained the soulfulness of the original. They finished off with “Sunny Eyed”, a mashup of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” and Ellie Goulding’s “Starry Eyed.”  The judges decided that the group was, as a whole, very good – and said that any problems that they may have had were probably due to nerves alone.

Next up was Brandeis VoiceMale, a four member, all male group; hosts Danielle and Maria joked about having a crush on every one of them. VoiceMale performed four songs, including “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder.  After the set, the judges had time to make their critiques: Buckley commended them on their song choices, while Campagna praised their dynamics and their “phenomenal arrangements.” Easton also told the group that they had “wonderful presence” and pointed out the fact that his only issue was with the tonality of their third song. All of the judges asserted that there were only very minor things to critique, and they were overall very impressed with the performance.

After Brandeis Voicemale came All A Cappella’s high school showcase group, The Newtones, from Newton South High School.  The group performed two songs, starting out with Jim Croce’s “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in A Song” and “Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine.  The group was not part of the five competing however, so they did not receive judge critiques.  Instead, the hosts went right into introducing the Wellesley Widows, who sang four songs, including Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men.

After Wellesley came the Harvard Opportunes, this year’s house favorite. The Opportunes took the stage with a Michael Jackson medley, which Campagna later told them was a decision that was “shooting high” but that they “nailed it.” Next, they performed James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something” and followed it up with another medley, this time a conglomerate of Destiny’s Child numbers.  It seemed that what the judges liked most were the strong soloists the group featured. At one point however, a judge made the comment that having two medleys was a little much; the audience booed at this comment, as the medleys were a crowd favorite and clearly a large source of energy as well.

After the Opportunes came Columbia Nonsequiter, a group from Columbia University whose student members hail from all over the country.  The group performed Gavin Degraw’s “Radiation”, followed by “Hometown Glory” by Adele, and “Falling Slowly” from Once. The group’s closing song was “Titanium” by David Guetta, a song they recently performed at The Varsity Vocals International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). “Titanium” was a favorite amongst both the crowd and the judges, who said it was their strongest song of the set.
This concluded the competitor’s performances. While the votes were being tallied, another one of Emerson College’s A Cappella groups, Acapellics Anonymous, performed a three-song set. After that was Ball in the House, a professional, all male a cappella group. They performed four songs, two of which were original compositions. The crowd received this group enthusiastically – they had a lot of energy, and though their original songs were unfamiliar to those in the audience, it did not seem to matter.

After winners were announced, Emerson’s Achoired Taste performed an appropriate and uplifting rendition of “Life Is a Highway” to close out the show, as audience members left the Cutler Majestic Theatre after yet another successful All A Cappella Live.

By Madelyn Reese
Photos by Maggie Ambrose

17 Responses to All A Cappella Live 2013

  1. Hi,

    Is there a way to but tickets through Emerson for All A Cappela live this Sunday? I would really rather not go through the AE Stages website as they require you to create an account and charge a $15 “processing fee”.

    Marianne Curcio

    Marianne Curcio April 2, 2013 at 7:04 PM Reply
    • Hi Marianne,

      You can also buy tickets over the phone at 617-824-8000 or in person at the Cutler Majestic box office.


      Jeeyoon K. April 3, 2013 at 11:21 AM Reply
  2. Will tickets be available day of at the cutler majestic

    Henry April 3, 2013 at 4:40 PM Reply
    • Yes, tickets will be available at the Cutler Majestic box office.

      Jeeyoon K. April 4, 2013 at 10:28 AM Reply
  3. Hi

    I was just at All A Cappella Live and I have to say I was really disappointed with the way the voting was cast. While I understand that opening the voting up to people who did not attend the actual concert (i.e. online votes from radio listeners) enables more general listener support, I do not think the radio version of the competition does each group justice in comparison with the live version. Therefore I don’t think the voting was fair or accurate in order to claim MIT as the winner. And where were the judges votes? We heard from them after every group but not who they think should have won. What was the point of that? My advice: next year limit the voting (or at least that which names the winner) to the live audience and the judges ONLY.

    Liz April 7, 2013 at 6:05 PM Reply
    • I concur

      Joel April 8, 2013 at 1:48 PM Reply
  4. The fix was in from MIT the Opportunes won that hands down its a shame that their hard work wasn’t rewarded!

    Christopher Brickman April 7, 2013 at 7:13 PM Reply
  5. Hi,

    I attended the All A Capella Live Performance yesterday for the first time. We were a group of 8 on a company outing and none of us had any affiliation with the groups but just love to hear A Capella. We were excited about voting for the best A Capella Group and the judges had very good comments. But we were very disappointed.

    The MIT Group won for apparently the second year in a row and they were not deserving. No offense to MIT but they were not the best group. Harvard should have won hands down. EVERYONE in the audience voted for Harvard and they received the most votes in the theater. Judges favored them as well. But naturally, MIT and their excellent computer skills had more online or call-in votes. It turned out to be a joke. It wasn’t the best group — it was who can get the most people to call in or vote online. If that’s the case, then MIT will win every year. It is not fair to the other groups.

    If WERS doesn’t rethink its voting, we will not attend another A Capella Live Performance. Sorry for the negative comments but it is the truth.

    Thank you,
    C. I.

    Cathy Ioffredo April 8, 2013 at 8:11 AM Reply
  6. Great contest yesterday. Looks like you’ll need to make a decision regarding online voting. I don’t have a child at any of the five schools and didn’t attend any of them, so I have no bias toward any one of the schools or singing groups. But, the obviously biased flooding of the online voting system by MIT students led to the wrong winner being declared. Harvard was clearly the best college group yesterday.

    Robert Rocha April 8, 2013 at 11:54 AM Reply
  7. As a WERS supporter and an a cappella fan, I have attended this concert for the last 4 years and thought this year was the best produced. However, the voting shenanigans totally ruined a fine event and left the (paying) audience clearly outraged by an obvious injustice which was shockingly permitted. Harvard was robbed! I have no affiliation to any of the schools competing, but I hate to see such hard-working kids get screwed. Nothing against MIT, but it is shameful what happened to the Opportunes.
    I will no longer attend this concert if the voting can be rigged.

    Eric April 8, 2013 at 3:35 PM Reply
    • I agree.

      Kelli April 12, 2013 at 11:25 AM Reply
  8. I’m sorry but, musically, Harvard definitely should not have won. They were a crowd favorite because they picked energetic songs that people could identify with because they were popular. But they weren’t the best group musically. The energy, choreo, etc is something that the live audience can pick up on, but radio listeners cannot, because you can’t see that. You hear it. And you can have all the energy and choreo and personality you want, but if it doesn’t translate super well musically, it’s not going to go over well on the radio. If the truth be told, off of sound alone, which is what should matter the most, the group that should have won was the Columbia Nonsequiters who really had their shit together.

    Also, notice, how the judges didn’t say anything bad about the Chorallaries set at all.

    Lindsay April 9, 2013 at 12:10 AM Reply
  9. Online voting is fine. It’s up to the a cappella group members to publicize their participation and get votes. If they didn’t do that, then it’s their fault. Everyone knew that there would be online voting and should have asked their friends and fans to vote.

    Also, it is a radio contest, and it matters if you sound good on the radio, which can be have a different sound from live stuff.

    Chelsi April 9, 2013 at 12:16 AM Reply
  10. Pingback: Public Radio Music Month! | WERS 88.9 FM

  11. Just would like to point out that audience voting can also be skewed if the competing group publicizes/brings enough people to get seats at the actual event. The only way to be completely fair is to have a completely unbiased audience period…and that’s just not going to happen

    Mike April 9, 2013 at 6:34 AM Reply
  12. I have some comments and a suggestion:

    I attended the concert, but missed the first 2 of MIT’s songs – we got there late because of parade-related traffic snarls.

    1. As an MIT alum, I was rooting for the Chorallaries, but I don’t think they really showed the scope and power of what they can do (based on the limited time I saw them). I ended up voting for the Opportunes; they really had a better set, and were more on their game.

    2. The comments above about MIT’s “excellent computer skills” is silly. You go to the website and click a button. Perhaps there was simply more interest among the MIT fan base, and/or they came across better on the radio – or perhaps listeners voted a bunch of times. Either way, you are going to get some loyalty effect.

    3. I suspect the audio in the theatre was quite different form what was mixed on the air. In my seat it was often VERY hard to pick out the soloists – some of that was a function of how they held their mikes – and the acoustics tended to end up muddying things together. Perhaps iof the scrim was pushed back a bit (or the overhead mikes pulled forward?) to create more opportunity for physical separation of the soloists in front. Or maybe it is just my aging ears :-)

    Suggestion: I understand the desire to have the radio audience participate in the action – it builds a sense of inclusiveness and gets people to actually stay for the results. However, the experience in the theatre *is* different and so perhaps a weighted system should be used to tally the votes, to avoid the potentially huge differences in audience size.

    For example, you could simply give 50 points to each audience and have them split proportionately – there are many variations, and you can have some discussions about which is best, but it is a place to start.

    Using some made up numbers to fill in the grid, it might look like:

    group theatre net sum weighted vote
    mit 8 1472 1480 26.0%
    columbia 153 211 364 14.1%
    harvard 493 850 1343 48.4%
    brandeis 57 223 280 7.7%
    wellesley 20 140 160 3.8%

    This took me all of 2 minutes in a spreadsheet – we are not talking rocket science here.

    Just a thought…


    dkeith April 9, 2013 at 3:35 PM Reply
  13. It’s taken me a while to make my comments on the outrageous and unfair voting, which soured my view of what was otherwise a great afternoon of music. I feel that the previous commenters expressed my opinion very well. Harvard, or possibly Columbia, deserved to win and the selection of MIT was disgraceful. It will definitely affect whether I ever attend another performance of All A Cappella Live. Why did we not hear judging from the judges? Why have them and never let THEIR opinion be heard? I had no affiliation with any group, but had wanted to attend for years. I was so glad I did – until that voting kerfuffle. Now, I want to hear from Emerson what you plan to do about it?

    Ann May 20, 2013 at 5:44 PM Reply

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Emerson College

The Emerson Acappellooza Fundraiser

Come celebrate our school with performances from our own four a cappella groups: Acapellics Anonymous, Noteworthy, Treble Makers, and Achoired Taste. It will be a night filled with school spirit, positive energy, and fun for any person who loves Emerson College. Proceeds will go to Emerson Scholarships and Emerson A cappella. Sponsored by Acappellics Anonymous with The Spirit […]

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