Northeastern’s Pitch, Please! takes 3rd at ICCA Quarterfinals

Katie Ryan, member of Pitch, Please!, one of Northeastern's a cappella groups, accepts the award for Best Choreography at the ICCA quarterfinals. / Photo by Sam Cronin
A member of Pitch, Please!, one of Northeastern's a cappella groups, accepts the award for Best Choreography at the ICCA quarterfinals. / Photo by Sam Cronin

By Sam Cronin, news staff

Pitch, Please!, Northeastern’s all-female, self-proclaimed “fiercest a cappella group,” took home third place in the quarterfinal competition for the Northeast region of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Feb. 3 at Berklee College of Music. While the group will not move on to the semifinals, one of their members took home an award for Outstanding Choreography.

The top two a cappella groups, which will be moving on to the semifinals at Boston Symphony Hall March 4, were Berklee’s Upper Structure with first place and the Harvard Opportunes with second place. Outstanding Soloist went to Chloe Saraco of the Harvard Opportunes for “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing.” Sarah Zorrilla of Upper Structure won Outstanding Vocal Percussion and the second Outstanding Choreography award went to Evan Lee of Upper Structure.

The competition itself was varied in tone, as there were 10 groups performing from schools all over the Northeast region. The groups chose an eclectic mix of songs, including pop songs as well as older arrangements. Pitch, Please! performed “My Mind” by Yebba, “Waves of Loneliness” by Jon Bellion and “Hurts” by Emeli Sandé. The two Berklee College teams, Treble Threat and Upper Structure, received a lot of cheers from their home fans, and Northeastern’s Pitch, Please! drew a great deal of excitement from the crowd.

Northeastern students and Pitch, Please! members Lora Riehl, Olivia Triplett and Casey Greenleaf went into their first competitive performance for the ICCA excited and humbled, but said they were not too caught up with competitive pressure.

“We’re just here. We’re having fun,” said Greenleaf, a third-year cultural anthropology major.

Triplett, a second-year biology student, is president of the group. Riehl, a second-year design major, was the music director for the performance and the vocal percussionist of the group. She said Pitch, Please! is a very personal group.

“It’s almost impossible to fail because someone will be there to support you,” Riehl said.

The three performers have been singing for years. Triplett started singing for her parents as a child, putting on shows at their house.

“Since I was a kid, my brain responded to music,” Triplett said.

Riehl and Greenleaf started a cappella at their high schools.

“[A cappella was something to look forward to.” Greenleaf said. “It was important for my mental health, and something to be proud of.”

The singers of Pitch, Please! have a hectic rehearsal schedule for competitions. On top of regularly practicing for two hours a night, four times a week, things ramp up in intensity the week before a performance. This last week is called “hell week” because they rehearse every night to fully master their pieces.

“[We] come into every rehearsal with a gameplan,” Riehl said. “Everybody has ideas.”

Their rehearsals are always very democratic, Greenleaf said, with no single person dominating the group.

“Everyone is so willing to lend a hand,” she said. “It’s so collaborative.”

Triplett emphasized the role of everyone in Pitch, Please!, not just the singers. She mentioned the vital role of the group’s business manager, Tamoha Saha.

“[We] have to have people to handle [group] business,” Triplett said.

Outside of Pitch, Please!, the three singers are involved in other extracurricular events, and two of them are on co-op. Triplett is on co-op at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Greenleaf is on co-op at the Museum of Fine Arts. Riehl is part of Northeastern’s intramural soccer team, and Greenleaf is trying to join Northeastern’s songwriting club.

“I’ll say I write music outside the club. Can I say I’m a musician?” Greenleaf said with a smirk.

After the performances, while the judges were deliberating the winners, musician JDVBBS performed his multi-layered beats, plugged his new album and offered to meet up with fans after the event. Once the judges reconvened and the winners were announced, all the teams waited patiently, and the members of Pitch, Please! excitedly embraced each other: their hugs and smiles showing their pride in themselves and their teammates.

“We love each other,” Greenleaf said. “[We’re] lucky to have found each other.”

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