Cal Men's Octet wins nat'l champ
- Let's have a round of applause for our local college a cappella
Continuing Education of the Bar, California
Men's Octet Sings Its Way to National Championship
By Sandra Zalman
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
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
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 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,"
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