Haley Huett, A&E Editor
Scots in Harmony, Wooster’s only competitive a cappella group, will be performing in Ohio’s International Competition for Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) this Saturday, March 4 in Cleveland, OH.
Founded in 2019 by Doug Morris ’22 and Rondell Mackey ’22, Scots in Harmony has been dedicated to diversity in music and experiences since its beginning. Typically, the group retains between 10 to 15 members ranging across vocal parts: sopranos, altos, tenors, basses and one vocal percussionist, or beatboxer.
According to Katherine Stephens ’23, the President of Scots in Harmony, the group performs a variety of genres and styles of music. More important, however, is the “group dynamic” that is “different every year.” Stephens, a long-time member of the group, notes how interesting it is to see the group change each year.
The upcoming competition is significant in the a cappella world. For the uninitiated, the a cappella competition in “Pitch Perfect” is based on the ICCAs.
This weekend, Scots in Harmony will compete in one of the ICCA Midwest quarterfinals. These competitions occur all over the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. From there, qualifiers will advance to the semi-finals, and then to the finals. Scots in Harmony earned entrance to quarterfinals through an audition process earlier in the academic year. While they have always been accepted to quarterfinals in the years they have auditioned, the group has not yet been able to advance to the other rounds.
In preparation for quarterfinals, the group has been constantly practicing. Claire Tobin ’24, the musical director, says that the group “has been rehearsing a lot,” adding that they have been “doing team bonding activities,” and seeking out diverse feedback to improve the performance. Nava Haus ’25, the treasurer for Scots in Harmony, reiterates just how hard the group has worked in preparation for quarterfinals, stating that, “[We] deserve a chance for others to hear our terrific blend of unique voices.”
For competitions, the group usually aims to convey a message and theme through its performances. This year, for the ICCA, Scots in Harmony has prepared a set tackling the topic of domestic abuse.
The set begins with Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain,” followed by “Voices Carry” by ‘Til Tuesday. The group will conclude with a mashup of “Long Sleeves” by Gracie Abrams and “Pass You By” by Alaina Castillo. The mashup concludes with group members performing an ad-lib, or short snippet from a song, solo to capture the theme of the total set. Ad-libs are sourced from music by Olivia Rodrigo, Fletcher, Taylor Swift, James Young, Hozier and others. Tobin describes the mashup as “powerful and emotional,” while Haus highlights the ways the performance tracks an individual’s experience in an abusive relationship. From “Love on the Brain,” describing an exciting new relationship that turns toxic in “Voices Carry,” the set concludes with “the victim’s realization of the need to leave the relationship… and a reflection of the victim’s past abuse… with hope for the future.”
To advance to the next round of the competition, Scots in Harmony will need to place in the top two performances.
While winning would be great, that is not the group’s primary goal. Tobin notes that, “[Scots in Harmony] agreed to leave it all on the stage… and leav[e] a lasting impact on the audience.” However, advancing to semi-finals “would mean so much to the group” according to Stephens. A historic achievement, advancing would also signify that, “you don’t have to have lots of funding or experience or people to win, you just need talent and a lot of hard work.”
Participating in Scots in Harmony has been incredibly impactful for its members. “The group really does mean everything to me,” says Stephens. Tobin and Haus both look forward to their futures with the group.
The group has no other performances planned, but students can be sure to catch a few more shows through the end of the semester. Their Instagram, @scotsinharmony, posts updates about upcoming performances. Scots in Harmony host performances for the student body throughout the year, as well as perform for events on campus.
Wish Scots in Harmony luck as they face off against nine other schools in the Midwest region to advance to the next rounds of the ICCA!