Making a perfect pitch for the ICCAs


Ellen Kanzinger

General Admission music director Shan Jiang, ‘16, sings her solo during the a cappella group’s open practice in Keller Theater. Photo by Steven Yeung, ‘17.

Alexandra Cline

Dream of a real-life Pitch Perfect? Love hearing today’s hits per- formed by students?

If these scream aca-awesome, then Washington and Lee’s co-ed a cappella group General Admission is hitting all the right notes.

The group traveled to Orlando, Florida on Feb. 5 to perform in the International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella, a competition founded in 1996 that now includes 450 groups located throughout the United States and Europe.

Participating in the ICCA South Quarterfinal, General Admis- sion competed against nine other colleges and universities from the Southeast region of the country for a spot in the semifinals, which will feature the top two schools as selected by the judges.

“Our practices have really intensified since we started training for ICCA,” Daisy Kelly, ’18, a member of the group, said. “It’s an insane time commitment but it’s all going to be worth it.”

Before the send-off, General Admission performed its setlist in Keller Theater for all interested students, which allowed the singers to practice for the first time in front of a larger audience.

During the preview and competition, General Admission sang “Hold my Hand” by Jess Glynne, “Lay me Down” by Sam Smith and “Love on Top” by Beyoncé, which featured soloists and the en- tire group alike.

The songs and their progression aims to tell a unique love story, with “Hold my Hand” revealing the initial excitement of a new rela- tionship that eventually falters, symbolized in the more sentimental “Lay me Down.” The final song, “Love on Top,” concludes the story with the upbeat, enthusiastic feeling of finding one’s true love.

“This set not only allows each member to tell their own version of the storyline but also allows them to connect with one another,” Shan Jiang, ‘16, the group’s music director, said. “This setlist allows the members to be vulnerable and trust each other, revealing the purest form of chemistry.

With these songs, the group has worked to develop its musicality and become more professional, being the first year General Admission is performing outside the local community.

“In the past few years the only real shows we’ve done are ones around campus and nearby,” Kelly said. “We’ve evolved into a cohesive family, where before we would have never thought to audition for this competition.”

This year, however, students set a goal early in the term of applying for the competition, an idea discussed but never realized in previous years.

“Going to a competition was always something we wanted to talk about but never got around to actually applying,” Jiang said. “This year it was different. We all put our foot down and decided to ap- ply for ICCA [so] we submitted a YouTube video and crossed our fingers.”

Despite the time commitment and stress of preparing for a major competition, the group has enjoyed the additional bonding time and,

most of all, simply singing and making music together. “In our last rehearsal before leaving for the competition, we were singing through our set and I was reminded why I love GA,” Jake Burnett, ‘17, a member of the group, said. “We were just dancing and messing around and it was such a beautiful moment. Not only were we having more fun than I’ve had in a long time, but we also sounded

better than we ever have.” Regardless of the pending results of the competition, General Ad-

mission was proud of its ability to compete alongside other talented a cappella groups and to accomplish its goal of performing for a wider audience.

“We never imagined an a cappella group from a small town like Lexington, VA would have the opportunity to compete with well- known groups who have been to the competition for years,” Jiang said. “When we got the results that we were selected…we were beyond proud and excited.”