Remaining after school is actually pretty special for sophomores Benjamin Chasnov and Aleina Wachtel.
The two Harvey Mudd students are members of the The After School Specials!, an a capella group consisting of students from all five of The Claremont Colleges. The group has a signature style—trademark hats and a special shade of green—and covers songs from all decades of popular music. It will perform with nine other groups Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. in the Western Semifinal of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. The family-friendly event at Pomona College’s Bridges Auditorium will feature the top two finishers from each of five Western Quarterfinal events who will vie for first place and a chance to compete at the International Finals in New York. The Varsity Vocals International Championship of A Cappella is the only international tournament that showcases the art of student a cappella singing.
“We are so excited to be competing this weekend,” said Wachtel. “To represent The Claremont Colleges in the collegiate a cappella community is a dream come true!”
Wachtel and Chasnov practiced together for The After School Specials! auditions and were two of only three first years who were selected for the group last year. Wachtel has been singing in choir for 12 years and took piano lessons for eight. She was a member of the concert and chamber choirs in the Joint Music Program at Scripps for several semesters, as well. She sings alto, the lowest female part, or mezzo, the middle female part, depending on the song. Chasnov sings bass.
“I think our group is successful because of how much we love to sing together,” said Wachtel. “We are all so passionate about singing, and when you have so much love for something, you work really hard, and it’s only a matter of time before you start seeing success.”
The Varsity Vocals organization provides a forum for young vocalists to showcase their talent to an international audience and develop relationships with each other, cultivating the art of a cappella singing and a lifelong love of music.
Each year, Varsity Vocals tournaments take place from January through April in regions across the United States and Europe. For college tournaments, each region holds several quarterfinal events. The top two college groups at each quarterfinal advance to the regional semifinals. The winner of each semifinal is invited to participate in finals, held in New York City, where they compete for the coveted title of Grand Champion.
Performers on Saturday, April 5, are:
The After School Specials! | Claremont Colleges
The Beat @ UCSD | UC San Diego
Noteworthy | Brigham Young University
Mind the Gap | University of Oregon
15 Miles West | Western Oregon University
HERmonic Acappella | Pacific Lutheran University
Boots ‘n’ Cats | Central Washington University
ScatterTones | UCLA
Beyond Measure | Brigham Young University
Fermata Nowhere | Mt. San Antonio College
$25 general admission