Fourteen Fine Arts Magnet Education (FAME) vocal majors from New Manchester High School are heading to Broadway later this week.
New Manchester High School’s a cappella choral group, InToneNation, will be competing against seven other regional champions and one wild card winner from across the country at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City on Friday, April 20.
The first place South Regional Champions will compete against a cappella high school groups from as far away as Oregon, New Jersey and Wisconsin in the Varsity Vocals International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA), the only global high school-level tournament that showcases the art of student a cappella.
This year, New Manchester High School hosted the ICHSA South Semifinal on March 24. In addition to winning the regional championship on their home turf, New Manchester captured “Outstanding Choreography” for their performance of “Love on Top.”
This is the second year the a cappella choral group has been in competition, according to NMHS Choral Director Trey Giddens, who has been with the school since it opened in 2011. In their first year of competition in 2017, they came in third during the South regional semifinals.
Earlier in March, InToneNation traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, and won the quarterfinal round against other a cappella groups from Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida and the Carolinas. While there, InToneNation’s Tyler Lewis was recognized as Best Soloist and the ensemble took awards as Best Arrangement and Best Choreography.
InToneNation has been working together since August. Giddens said that being vocal majors definitely gives them an edge.
“They are together a lot and sharpen each other,” he said. “I give them a chance to try new things, so the performance has evolved all year long.”
One thing in particular that InToneNation does well is “the performance element,” including “getting onstage and owning the stage,” said Giddens. “I think they are great performers and when you see them on stage, you see a true performance.”
Giddens said the group completes the performance by “accenting its singing with choreography.”
Giddens said that the movie, “Pitch Perfect,” which came out in 2012, has generated a lot of renewed interest in a cappella music.
He said the group knew nothing about the competition in 2017 other than what they had seen in the “Pitch Perfect” movies.
“It shed a new light on a cappella and made it cool,” Giddens said.
The choral director first began with a girls’ a cappella group, Bella Boce, and the first song they performed was one from “Pitch Perfect.” This followed with a all-male group, the “A Cafellows.” He later combined the two groups to form InToneNation.
The group stays incredibly busy, having done 40 performances this school year. During on the the many performances this year, InToneNation traveled to New Orleans where they performed — and won— the Crescent City Music Festival.
“From Thanksgiving to Spring Break they’ve gone non-stop,” Gidden said.
Members of InToneNation are Terrilynn Tolson, captain; Tyler Lewis, Josh Talbert, Chole Knight, Brieya Tripline, Kylah Edge, Mia Brown, Jaida Walker, Kelsea Seals. William Burnett, Rondell Mackey, Trejohn Skinner and Osyrus Brewer.
InToneNation will be featured in the New Manchester High School FAME vocal program, “Legends in Concert” featuring “some of the greatest songs by the legends that made then hits” on Thursday, April 26 at 7 p.m. in the NMHS Fine Arts Theater. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for adults.