Campus a capella group to compete in regionals

    For those who have never heard the Tritones — or even heard of them — the company is UCSD’s very own a cappella singing group. The Tritones, featuring a soloist, a vocal body, and vocal percussion (beat-boxing), perform music entirely with their voices. The group boasts a diverse repertoire of songs ranging from the bootylicious pop of R&B trio Destiny’s Child to the modern masterpieces of indie-rock heavyweight Radiohead.

    In addition to making their voices heard at periodic pub shows and school functions, the Tritones annually compete in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. In March, the group will compete in the Regional Semifinals at Stanford University, the farthest the group has ever gone in the competition during its short history.

    “The competition at this next level will probably be greater,” Tritones director Thanthuy Nguyen said.

    In past years, the Tritones’ performances in the ICCA have been hit-or-miss due to the competition’s ever-changing judging criteria.

    “Three years ago, there was more emphasis on the music aspect of the performance, with roughly 70 percent for music and 30 percent for performance,” Nguyen said. “The following year, the criteria was split fifty-fifty for music and performance. We did not place and were surprised that the split had changed so dramatically.”

    Although the ICCA’s judging criteria may not be perfectly aligned to the Tritones’ taste, the group has managed to satisfy the requirements without too much compromise.

    “This year, I think we have done a good job balancing the two things which had conflicted: maintaining the integrity of our sound as well as applying appropriate performance aspects to make us an eligible competitor whom judges would seriously consider,” Tritones assistant director Derlin Hsu said.

    The Tritones have demonstrated ability and talent, but the group still remains something of an underdog.

    “We receive no grants from the school and are not affiliated with the music department, and therefore must raise money on our own,” Nguyen said. “I do believe richer groups have an advantage.”

    Other collegiate a cappella groups with more resources have the opportunity to rehearse in conditions similar to those in the competition, and also to have albums produced that can help build their popularity, putting them at a decided advantage.

    The Tritones are faced with an uphill climb with somewhat unfavorable odds, but seem to be content with the mere opportunity to perform and compete.

    “All I know is that I am really excited to have such a goal that can motivate Tritones improvement and to share Tritones sound with other groups whom we haven’t met, experience the next level of competition and make some new friends in a cappella groups,” Hsu said.

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