Danica Calalang

A capella groups wait for awards ceremony to begin.

Echo Effect and High Fidelity Go To ICHSA Quarterfinals

Mar 7, 2023

Niles West’s all-male and all-treble a cappella groups, Echo Effect and High Fidelity, competed at the International Championship of High School A Capella (ICHSA) Great Lakes quarterfinals at DeKalb High School on Saturday night, March 4, where 11 teams competed.

Echo Effect has been preparing for quarterfinals since the summer. President of Echo Effect senior Matthew Philip has been working closely with Carl Alexander, Echo Effect’s director, since June 2022. Because Echo Effect would be an almost entirely new group this year, they wanted to maximize their time to rehearse and grow as a band.

Echo Effect performed three mashups at quarterfinals. They opened with “Titanium,” by Sia and “Ready Aim,” by Mali Music. Their ballad was a mix of “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake and “Phantom” by Rina Sawayama. They ended their set with a mashup of “Killer Queen” by Mad Tsai and “Industry Baby” by Lil Nas X.

The group was really fearful of how this year would look for them after losing strong members. However, Philip is incredibly proud of Echo Effect for doing so well at quarterfinals. They took home a third-place finish. Philip and sophomore Jack Feldman also won the award for outstanding arrangement for their orchestration of “Mirrors” and “Phantom”.

“It’s hard for us as a tenor-tenor-bass-baritone group to actually place in these types of competitions. Everyone expects Pentatonix, they expect a mixed group. It’s hard for us to move very far and the fact that we’ve done so consistently for years is something we pride ourselves on,” Philip said.

Although Echo Effect is disappointed that they will not be moving on to semifinals, they’re still happy with the work they put onstage. They’ve built a welcoming and happy space within each other.

“I wouldn’t have changed this year for anything in the world. I love spending the time that I spent with them this year and I couldn’t have spent it with anyone better,” Philip said.

High Fidelity began practicing twice a week in September to prepare for quarterfinals. Once they got closer to competition season, they started holding five-hour boot camps on the weekends. This time was not only used for practicing their music but also for making connections between the songs and their personal lives. This helped them feel more attached to the set and portray a story onstage.

The all-treble group began their performance with a mashup of “Rise” by Solange and “The Weekend” by SZA. Their ballad was “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna and “No” by Meghan Trainor.

High Fidelity was the first group to perform after the 15-minute intermission. During the extended wait, nerves were high and stakes were higher. However, for High Fidelity’s choreographer senior Natasha Dhamavasi, the intermission was the best experience of her night.

“We were getting ready to perform and we locked arms in a circle and sang our opening song. Some of us were crying and it was a very surreal moment with the group. We were very proud of the journey that led us to this moment and all the progress we made as a group,” Dhamavasi said.

Co-vice president of High Fidelity senior Briyanna Manzaneres-Etienne won the outstanding soloist award for her solo on “Love on the Brain.”

“I feel so proud because it’s such a full-circle moment for me. My first ever solo performance was to “Love on the Brain,” when I was 12 years old, so it meant the world that I was able to close this chapter of my life with that song and go on to win outstanding soloist with it too,” Manzaneres-Etienne said.

Echo Effect and High Fidelity’s sibling group, Tonal Eclipse, also competed at a separate quarterfinal competition the weekend before. Tonal Eclipse’s president senior Alessandra Mendoza feels more than satisfied with what the team got out of it.

“This group has helped me build my confidence and my love for performing and music. I really felt like I gave it my all into my last competition as a member of Tonal and I can’t wait to see what we do moving forward,” Mendoza said.

Tonal Eclipse went out to DeKalb to support their sibling groups this weekend.

“I had so much fun singing along to their songs, screaming, clapping, dancing and jumping up and down in my seat,” Mendoza said.

Niles West is very proud of all the victories the a capella community took home. Make sure to support them by coming to see their performances at the choir concert on March 23!

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