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MSU a cappella group Capital Green makes history by moving on to ICCA finals

This article appeared in the State News. Read more here.

On March 16, Capital Green, Michigan State University's oldest all-gender a cappella group, competed at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, or ICCA, Great Lakes Semi Finals and placed first, becoming the first group in MSU history to do so.

Hosted by Varsity Vocals, the ICCA competition may be described as "Pitch Perfect" in real life. The Semi Finals required Capital Green to travel to Milwaukee and perform at the Pabst Theater.

Advertising management junior and Capital Green Member Tyler Pintea said going to Semi Finals meant being in a room with groups that had cemented themselves in a cappella history. While it was inspiring, he said, it also sparked a competitive fire in their group.

"The competition was very steep," Pintea said. "We knew that going into it. We did our research. We knew that the competition was going to be hard and that we had to put our best foot forward, so that's exactly what we did."

Capital Green is entirely self-funded. Similar groups at campuses within the state have received up to $10,000 in a year to assist in honing their craft.

Capital Green Co-President and arts and humanities senior Maren Case said they were able to get this far despite a lack of university funding because she believes they "want it more."

"I would say we're all very hungry for this win," Case said. "We often say that nobody wants it more than Capital Green — no group is working harder, and no group is more dedicated. We rehearse upwards of  nine hours a week, which is just crazy for these people who are pursuing their degrees, and working, and having to balance personal lives and academic lives."

However, willpower can only do so much. Capital Green Choreographer and secondary education senior Justin Babbitt said the group has a unique atmosphere that yields their success.

"All 19 of us are so locked in, to the point where we'll give each other feedback," Babbitt said. "There's someone out there to offer help and support. It's a culture of accountability and taking responsibility for yourself that I think really sets us apart."

Despite their performance this year, Capital Green isn't always solely focused around competition. Babbitt said its action this year came as a result of a specific goal.

"We had a lot of belief in ourselves," Babbitt said. "At the beginning of the year we set a goal for ourselves. We were in Wells (Hall) in rehearsal, and we put it on the chalkboard: 'Our goal this year is to get to ICCA finals.'"

The win at Semi Finals means Capital Green is one of ten groups across the country who get the opportunity to perform in New York City at the ICCA Finals on April 27. For seniors in the group, this means choosing between going to their graduation and performing. For Case, the right choice couldn't be clearer.

"It's such a cool thing I get to do instead," Case said. "It's not like I have to do something I'm not looking forward to. I can't go to my graduation because it's on the day of finals, but I get to perform in New York City with this group of people who are like my family. They're these incredible musicians that I've been so fortunate to grow close to."

ICCA Finals even proved to be a source of motivation in the last few weeks of the semester, Case said.

"I had really bad senior apathy before this started, like, 'I don't care about really any decisions going on,'" Case said. "'I don't feel a lot of forward momentum,' which I think is kind of expected because when you don't want to leave the college environment, how can you plan to do that? So now that I have something to look forward to … I'm not lamenting these last weeks."

And when ICCA Finals do come, the group hopes to win carried by their art, Babbitt said.

“We care about the art we create — the musicality of it and making people feel a certain type of way when they watch our performances, but I think we also just are competitors at heart," Babbitt said. "We want to win, but we want to win with grace and humility."

Remarkable art is easy to produce when in a group that enjoys each other, Pintea said.

"We are really, truly just a big group of friends who enjoy to sing together," Pintea said. "It was kind of important for us to enjoy each other while we were being competitive with other groups. We found that if you didn't like each other, you're not going to thrive in a competition setting."

With the chalkboard goal from months before remaining ever present in its mind, Capital Green fundraises for its trip in hopes the members will realize their dream in New York City this April.

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