Competing in their very first event of this type, the Soundwaves competed against eight other high schools from California and Arizona in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,100 spectators at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.
With their 2nd-place finish, the Soundwaves earned the right to compete for a wildcard slot for the ICHSA finals in New York at the end of April. At the semifinal, they lost only to Vocal Rush, a team from the Oakland School for the Arts who were the national champions in 2015 and 2013.
Held for over twenty years, this annual competition celebrates the incredible talents of both high school and collegiate a cappella groups from around the world and was featured in the popular movies Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2.
To be admitted to the finals, the Soundwaves will submit a performance video to be judged against other wildcard contenders.
This first step has been a tremendous accomplishment for the Soundwaves, who began back in 2013 when several of the current seniors were freshmen. They appealed for an a cappella club to Nueva’s leadership, who quickly hired Allison Renn, an accomplished musician and educator, as the upper school choral teacher and the Soundwaves’ musical director.
Allison underscored the significance of the accomplishments of the Soundwaves. Because they are a school club and not a required class or even an elective, their achievements are the result of the members’ commitments, and their work occurs in 2 or 3 meetings a week for 30–40 minutes each session. Open to all US students, the Soundwaves currently has students from grades 10 through 12. In addition, all performed pieces were arranged and choreographed by the students.
To win 2nd place in their very first competition was truly a thrill. “We’re all still walking on air,” said Allison of the group’s success. “Each of these students is an incredibly talented, flexible musician who contributed to the group to pursue their passion for song. They are continuously able to adapt and adjust quickly, and work together brilliantly.”
In addition to their 2nd-place finish, Nueva seniors took home two of the four special awards given out at the semifinal. Christine C. won Outstanding Vocal Percussion, winning for the technique known colloquially as beat boxing, the art of vocal percussion using one’s mouth, lips, tongue, and voice. Emily R. was awarded Outstanding Arrangement for their rendition of “Winter Song.”
Allison added, “I cannot be more proud of where the Soundwaves started and where they are today. I’m so excited and honored to be a part of their journey these past three years.”
March 17, 2017