On Saturday night, eight schools across Connecticut and Massachusetts competed in a pitched (pun intended) battle for the top prize in the 12th Annual Wyvern Invitational A Cappella Festival (WIAF): Bristol Eastern High School’s Strawberry Fields, Conard High School’s Be S#arp, Ethel Walker School’s The Grapes, Fairfield Ludlowe High School’s Close Harmony, Hall High School’s A Cafella, Kingswood Oxford’s Crimson 7 and Oxfordians, Lexington High School’s Onomatopoeia and Pitchpipes, and Miss Porter’s School’s The Perilhettes. Proceeds from the event support Kingswood Oxford’s partnership with the Tobati School in Tobati, Paraguay that increases the opportunities offered to the poor youth of Tobati and offers KO students a fantastic experience of working for the greater good in the developing world.
The songs ranged from joyous to somber and everything in between. They featured complex arrangements and distinct and unique versions of popular, classic, and traditional tunes.
KO’s Director of Theater Kyle Reynolds served as the master of ceremonies and kept the show fun, light and moving. During the change-up between performances, he called audience members that were tapped by one of the singers to the stage and asked them to answer a question to a joke or riddle. To wit, How do you make a bandstand? Take away their seat. For their participation, the audience member received a “prize.” If you’re thinking of gift certificates or keys to a car, you would be sorely mistaken. Reynolds thoughtfully (ahem) shopped at the local Dollar Tree Store for car air fresheners, blonde hair dye, and you couldn’t have planned it more imperfectly - a stick of beef jerky to a vegan. The crowd was roaring.
Five judges adjudicated the event: Hillary Ekwall, a professional cellist, and musical theatre performer, Brian O’Connell, director of the Sarteano Chamber Choral Conducting Workshop in Sarteano, Italy and conductor teacher at UMass/Lowell, Brian Pia, music teacher and choral director at King Philip Middle School in West Hartford, Kathryn Swanson, composer and teacher at The Hartt School and Matthew Weisher, a tenor, actor, composer, and arranger.
Here are the results of the evening:
Group Festival Awards
Honorable Mention (4th): Crimson 7
Bronze Citation (3rd): Onomatopoeia
Silver Citation (2nd): Be S#arp
Gold Citation: “Best In Show” (1st Place) Close Harmony
Viewer’s Choice Beatbox Battle Winner: Henry Mandell - Crimson 7
Outstanding Male Soloist: Matthew Marottolo - Crimson 7
Outstanding Female Soloist: Hannah Kim - Onomatopoeia
Outstanding Student Director - Be S#arp
Outstanding Vocal Percussion - Dan Winter - Onomatopoeia
Outstanding Student Arrangement - End of Love - Marcus Priede - Close Harmony
Outstanding Student Choreography - Strawberry Fields - Uptown Funk