Swathed in a blue light, Amy Chew ’20 and Eliot Min ’19 stood alongside fellow members of their a cappella group Apex. Female voices filtered in and out with haunting harmonies as the male lead singer belted the lyrics to MØ’s “When We Were Young.” This performance, recorded as a video, showcases the work of Chew and Min at the A Cappella Academy, a ten-day-long camp held in Los Angeles over the summer.
“We only had the ten days at A Cappella Academy. When we went on the first day of camp, we got right into it, we learned the arrangement, we practiced singing together, we learned the choreography, and we performed at our showcase ten days later,” said Min.
Ultimately, this final performance won Apex first place in the category “Outstanding Live Video” of the A Cappella Video Awards, which is hosted by the Contemporary A Cappella Society. According to Chew, both Min and Chew didn’t hear about their nomination until a few weeks after the nominees had been announced.
“A couple months later, one of my group-mates texted us and was like, ‘Oh, hey, we were nominated for this award.’ The ceremony took place in Los Angeles over the course of two to three days. Since we’re not all together, most of us don’t live in California right now, we just found out about it over the Internet,” said Chew.
A live performance video by Pentatonix, three-time Grammy Award-winning a cappella group, was also nominated in the same category, but Min and Chew’s group took the first place prize in the results, which were released a few weeks ago.
“They nominate performances throughout the entire 2018-2019 year, but the winners of the contest are revealed in February. It was crazy. Especially in the a cappella world, a lot of people look up to Pentatonix, so to know that we managed to outdo them in that regard, it was really amazing. We were all absolutely shocked,” said Min.
One of the biggest challenges of A Cappella Academy was the amount of time spent singing and choreographing every day, according to Min and Chew. Though Min and Chew are both members of different a cappella groups on campus, the camp was much more intensive than anything they had experienced.
“I think the challenging part was that the music was really hard, and so was the choreography, but also trying to keep healthy because we were singing probably twelve hours each day. And so a lot of people got sick, and a lot of people got sore throats. You really had to make sure that you weren’t stressing your voice out too much,” said Chew.