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Cal Men's Octet wins nat'l champ

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  • Tim McGraw
    Let s have a round of applause for our local college a cappella champs! Tim McGraw Continuing Education of the Bar, California ... Men s Octet Sings Its Way to
    Message 1 of 1 , May 13, 1998
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      Let's have a round of applause for our local college a cappella

      Tim McGraw
      Continuing Education of the Bar, California
      Men's Octet Sings Its Way to National Championship

      By Sandra Zalman
      Contributing Writer
      The Daily Californian

      The UC Men's Octet took its popular humor-filled a cappella act to
      Carnegie Hall in New York over the weekend, where it became the
      national champion of College A Cappella.

      The group, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year,
      competed against five other universities in the final round,
      receiving a $1,000 cash prize and the chance to perform on the
      "Today Show."

      The final competition, which came after five months of preparation
      by the group, was held in New York City in front of a packed
      audience of unfamiliar faces at Carnegie Hall.

      "It was mostly not our fans," said Edd Taylor, a graduate student
      and octet member. "It was impressive, getting a huge response
      from people who didn't originally come to see us."

      Because the group's appearance on the "Today Show" coincided
      with Mother's Day, the octet elected to sing Paul Simon's "Love
      Me Like a Rock," to close the program. The show was live and
      aired at 6 a.m. on the West Coast.

      Saturday's performance concluded three vigorous rounds of
      competition for the Men's Octet. While more than 100 ensembles
      began at the regionals in January, only the top six groups advanced
      to perform in Carnegie Hall.

      For the final competition, the Octet moved away from its
      trademark '50s and '60s tunes, performing songs such as
      Madonna's "Vogue" and the theme from the "Muppet Show."

      "When we did our first round, we chose songs we thought that we
      did best," said the group's manager Jake Manabat, who has been
      singing with the group for three years. "After we got our judging
      scores, we were told which ones were our weak songs, so we
      decided to do more modern stuff."

      Because audience reception was so positive when the octet began
      singing "Vogue" and Otis Redding's "Dreams," the group decided
      to perform them in the finals.

      "People suggested that we should do those songs because they
      were so good," Manabat said.

      Participants at Saturday's contest were evaluated on presentation,
      originality, musicality and soloist abilities.

      Taylor said the five judges were respected members of the a
      cappella community.

      Manabat said the judges also looked at the complexity of the
      arrangement and its originality.

      This year's competition featured the performances of the six
      groups competing for the title, as well as a performance by last
      year's winners from Stanford, who were knocked out of this year's
      contest by the octet in the spring semifinals.

      The Men's Octet will also be featured at next year's finals at
      Carnegie Hall when the group will perform as the reigning

      "The group that will be in Carnegie Hall next year will only have
      three of the members from this year's group," said Manabat.

      Instead of eight people, next year's group will be comprised of nine
      members next semester so the group can prepare for the departure
      of one member during the spring semester.

      "Since the competition starts in January, we didn't want to
      introduce someone new so late," said Taylor.

      Because the average a cappella group is comprised of 14 to 16
      members, the octet had to be especially strong to win the title,
      Taylor said.

      Taylor said he was especially happy that the group won while it
      was celebrating its anniversary.

      "I'm glad it happened this year because it's our 50th anniversary,"
      said Taylor.

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