University of Waterloo took the house at the sold out Varsity Vocals International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) central quarterfinals on Feb. 18. Two of the five UW a cappella teams, The Water Boys and In Full Colour, will be moving on to the semifinals that will take place in March.

UW a cappella groups competed against U of T’s TBA (Tunes. Beats. Awesome.), Macapella from McMaster University, WLU’s Hawkappella, WiBi from York University, and Golden Notes from WLU of Brantford.

When asked about the competition, In Full Colour co-musical director Yang Chen said that it felt different and special compared to past semifinals.

“For one thing, it was at home so there wasn’t the stress of having to go somewhere new and unfamiliar. Also, we practically knew people or had friends in almost all the other groups, both from Waterloo and outside, and we all have nothing but love for each other, so the whole day was just nothing but positive energy. Even [with] the groups we didn’t know, we were all super friendly and just supportive.” Chen said.

Assistant Musical Director Leeann Lu added, “The familiarity of being home was more calming and made the day feel like it was leading up to a performance [with no rankings or awards] rather than a competition. I felt like there were zero thoughts of competitiveness so I was able to just focus on giving it my all while trying to be the best me that I can be.”

Some of the notable performances included the heartwarming story by In Full Colour, and the comedic style of the Musical InterDudes.

The concert ended with a performance from ACE, UW’s all-inclusive a cappella group, and UW Improv Club, followed by the awards ceremony.

The first, second, and third place awards went to In Full Colour, The Water Boys, and The Unaccompanied Minors, respectively.

“Winning was honestly just the cherry on top of an already amazing and successful day for us. We knew after our performance we had literally given it our all, and the emotions just were running super high, and we all felt very satisfied with everything regardless of the results,” Chen said, with regard to winning first place in the competition. “To hear people come up to us during intermission and after show saying how much they enjoyed and felt moved by the set also made us feel like we already won.”


UW’s a cappella teams also won all the special awards. Outstanding Soloist went to Misha Khorramshahi of In Full Colour for the entire set, Outstanding Vocal Percussion went to Elia Lam of The Unaccompanied Minors for “Look What You Made Me Do,” Outstanding Arrangement went to Yamen Mouhanna of The Water Boys for “Withdraw,” and Outstanding Choreography went to The Musical InterDudes for their entire set.

“We’re grateful for everyone’s support, and would like to thank everyone for coming to the ICCA show and supporting the arts, supporting a cappella. We’re extremely excited to be sharing our set again at semifinals, and grateful for the opportunity,” Chen said.

Michael Paknys, President of The Water Boys, is proud of their performance at the ICCA quarterfinals.

“For many of our members, this was their first a cappella competition (myself included) and we couldn’t be happier with the result of our efforts. Performing alongside so many other talented, Canadian a cappella groups was a wonderful experience,” Paknys said. “In the next few weeks, we will work to polish our set as we prepare for the semifinals in Buffalo.”

This article has been updated to add the statement from The Water Boys President Michael Paknys.