The International Champion of Collegiate A Cappella, made famous by its humorous interpretation in the movie “Pitch Perfect”, is the only global tournament showcasing student a cappella. Out of Cornell’s 14 a cappella groups, The Class Notes became a finalist in the competition.
In order to reach the final round on April 23, The Class Notes first had to advance through the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, taking second place at the Central New York quarterfinal round out of their group of eight and first place in the semifinals.
Issy Saadeh ’23, who joined The Class Notes in the fall of 2021, received the Outstanding Soloist award in the semifinal round, along with the group’s president, Vanessa Shim ’23, who received the Outstanding Choreography award for the group. Additionally, Devon Clinkscales ’22 won Outstanding Soloist in the quarterfinals.
“After two of the four ‘Outstanding’ awards were handed to our group, I think everyone predicted we would win in the semifinals, and therefore advance to finals,” said Saadeh.
While becoming finalists is unprecedented in The Class Notes’ history, members remained optimistic about their ability to achieve success in the competition.
“There was definitely some doubt as to whether we would be able to become finalists, but at the end of the day, we were always in it to win,” said The Class Notes Assistant Musical Director Grace Kelly Fulton ’24.
The finalists at the 2022 ICCAs represent the top eight out of 450 formally recognized a cappella groups in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. To reach the finals, The Class Notes practiced relentlessly.
“Our competition represents the best of the best, so we have been putting in a lot of work to revamp our choreography and fine-tune our arrangements,” Saadeh said.
Paired with intensive practicing and rehearsing, The Class Notes attributes much of its success to an outpour of alumni support and collaborations with big-name a cappella arrangers.
“Reaching finals is the culmination of 39 years of hard work because so many alumni have guided us throughout this year,” Shim said. “Many alumni are attending the finals on Broadway to see us.”
The Class Notes also gained an advantage by working with Shams Ahmed, an a cappella arranger, producer and creative director who has worked with world renowned a cappella groups like Pentatonix.
While The Class Notes’ appearance in the ICCA finals represents a historic moment in Cornell History, Shim said that The Class Notes does more for Cornell than achieve competitive success.
“We are honored to contribute to and exemplify Cornell’s ‘any person, any study’ principle by bridging communities through music and academia,” Shim said. “The Class Notes represents such a diverse group of individuals from the POC and LGBTQ+ communities, which further exemplifies the group’s mission to demand more diversity and inclusion in all spaces, and we want to continue our mission and represent Cornell in the best possible way.”
Between its mission of diversity and its relentless competition, The Class Notes has become a close-knit community for its members.
“It’s more than just singing. The Class Notes is my family and I haven’t experienced this level of community in any other organization I’ve joined,” Saadeh said. “I’m beyond excited to join them on Broadway for the finals.”
Correction, April 14, 10:05 a.m.: A previous version of this article inaccurately mentioned that the Class Notes’ achievement is the culmination of 34 years of work. It is actually 39 years. This error has been corrected.
Correction, April 15, 2:04 p.m.: A previous version of this article inaccurately mentioned that the Class Notes was the first of the Ivy League to make it to the ICCA finals. Last Call A Cappella placed second in the 2002 ICCA finals. The Sun regrets this error.