Chelmsford High sends two a cappella groups to ICHSA semifinals

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CHELMSFORD — Both of Chelmsford High School’s a cappella groups, The Thursdays and The Crescendos, have advanced to the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) Northeast Semifinals.

The groups will take the stage and compete against eight other teams at Mechanics Hall in Worcester on Sunday, March 24. The top finishing group will advance to the ICHSA Finals in New York City.

The Thursdays and The Crescendos compete in the ICHSA competition on an annual basis, but it’s not every year both make it to the semifinal round.

“We hold ourselves to high standards,” said Amanda Roeder, CHS music teacher and advisor for the two groups. “We’re aiming to go as far as we can in the competition, but to me, the most important thing is that they craft a set they feel proud of and that they feel connected to. As far as competition goes, let the chips fall where they may. There are so many aspects of competition that are out of our control. What we can control is the way that we work together.”

This year, at quarterfinals, The Crescendos placed second overall, while The Thursdays placed third. Only the top two teams automatically advanced to the next round, but The Thursdays were rewarded a wild card bid to the semifinals.

Junior Sophia Roy, a member of The Thursdays, said the group is so happy to be getting the opportunity to advance to the next level of the competition.

“We all feel really great to be going to semifinals, just because we worked really hard,” she said. “We got third, but we still didn’t get to move on. Getting that wild card is a real glimmer of hope.”

Senior Cailin “Kiki” Deutschmann, co-president of The Crescendos, has been with the group her entire high school career and has enjoyed every minute of it.

“We enjoy singing, dancing, and we think it’s such a great art to be able to make so much music and so much impactful, powerful sound with only our voices,” she said. “It’s a really cool gift that we can share with other people.”

Preparing for competition

As the ICHSA Semifinals approached, both groups were busy rehearsing and perfecting their sets.

“A couple weeks ago, we just solely worked on music,” Roy said of The Thursdays during rehearsals on March 18. “Today, we realized we hadn’t done our choreography in a long time, so we focused on our choreography.”

Junior Jocelyn Pica, co-president of The Crescendos, said rehearsals and preparations for semifinals were going great.

“This whole process, I personally think, is like no other,” she said. “It’s very community-based. We need everyone there because everyone plays such a pivotal role in the music and the choreography. … Because of that, we have created such a great bond. We’re all very connected and we have created our own family.”

Pica said getting to work so closely with the other talented members of The Crescendos has been a very fun experience.

“Everyone is contributing and everyone is putting their own opinions into it,” she said. “Overall, it just makes rehearsals better and it makes our sound and our performance so much better.”

Looking forward to the weekend competition, Deutschmann said The Crescendos are excited to be able to keep creating and perfecting their routine.

“We have a bunch of incredible females,” she said. “It’s awesome creating such a unique sound without the lower register from male vocals. It’s fun to try to arrange and see how we can try new stuff.”

Roeder said it has been very rewarding to work with the two incredibly talented a cappella groups.

“They take a great deal of ownership in what they do,” she said. “They choose the songs they compete with, the choreography is all student-created. … They’re very motivated to succeed.”

And the members of both a cappella groups are extremely grateful and appreciative of Roeder’s ongoing support.

“Having a person to be willing to drive to our competitions, help us fundraise and arrange our sets is incredible,” Deutschmann said. “She changed my life. If I didn’t have a cappella, I really don’t know what I’d do. … I’m now planning on majoring in music. Without her support and influence on me, I would not be where I am.”

Tickets to attend Sunday’s ICHSA Northeast Semifinals are $25 and can be purchased online by visiting the Mechanics Hall Events & Tickets page at app.arts-people.com/index.php?show=218794.

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