Just one week after BOSS, on April 14, Fermata Town ventured to the Aidekman Arts Center at Tufts to compete in the Boston Regional Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival. Dan had submitted a video of one of our performances to the producer of the competition, and she’d invited us to compete alongside five other local a cappella groups. Regional competitions happened in eight cities across the nation and the winners in each city would be flown to California to compete nationally!
Let’s back up a bit. When we found out we were accepted to the competition, our musical directors (Katya and Philipp) had some work cut out for them. One of the stipulations of competition was that there could only be eight people on stage at one time. Fermata Town has 15 members – how was this going to work!? And we only had 10 minutes to show ourselves off. So, Katya, Philipp and Dan put their heads together to select repertoire that would showcase us best. They landed on two of our newer pieces: “Circus”, the finale of our album, and “Starting Line”, an arrangement of an original composition by our very own Katya. Then, based on who was actually available to compete, our MD’s put together a well-balanced roster for each song.
Rehearsed and ready to entertain, we were welcomed to Tufts by Jackie Chisholm, a Regional Director and producer of the Boston Harmony Sweepstakes. We worked out the transition between songs, getting different FT members on stage, during our mic check, and then headed back to our dressing room to put on final touches before the show.
In meeting and getting to watch several of our competitors perform, we recognized two distinct styles. Funkin’ A and the Metropolitones were aligned with our mode of performance, contemporary a cappella. Showcase, Grundy’s Magic Shop, and Beast Mode represented the barber shop quartet world with their sweet four part harmonies. Even within the two genres present, each group shared their own flare and passion for a cappella music.
After two acts of competitors’ performances and a special performance by the Tufts Beelzebubs, we were entertained by last years champions, Foreign Exchange. This gave the judges time to deliberate and the audience time to vote on their favorite pick!!
Finally, all the competing groups were brought back to the stage for recognition with awards and the final results from the judges. First, Jackie Chisholm announced the Audience Favorite – the Metroplitones!! Next, Best Original Arrangement – Katya Dreyer-Oren and Philipp Walzer of Fermata Town for “Startling Line”! We were pumped. We would have been happy to walk away then. But no, we were then recognized for Best Soloists – Chris Giordano and Katya for “Circus” AND for best Vocal Percussion – Philipp!!
I think I speak for most of us there when I say that we were so pumped to take all of the judges’ honors. We were competing in a very diverse group and felt great to be recognized in such a way. We didn’t have much time to think about it, though, as Jackie began to announce the official placings of the competition. 2nd runner up… The Metropolitones. 1st runner up… Showcase. 2013 Champion, going to California to compete nationally at the 29th annual Harmony Sweepstakes final… Fermata Town! It was a clean sweep at Sweeps!
What?! Shock. Somehow, in our state of disbelief, we managed to perform Geek in the Pink as an encore. With a thank you from Jackie and our emcee, the competition ended and the audience began to filter out. Mark or someone else had the wherewithal to grab our CDs and manager our merch table as the rest of us received and read judges’ comments and chatted with Jackie about the next steps.
It was real. We won. And we are going to California to compete nationally. That trip is now just about a week away. We have been working our butts off to prepare a 12 minute set (yes, we get two more minutes!) that will rock the spectators in San Rafael! Stay tuned to hear how that goes…
Can’t wait to share the next steps of our journey,