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Phils advance to finals in competition for first time

By Hallie Jordan     2/19/09 6:00pm

For the first time since their founding in 1995, the Rice Philharmonics will advance in an international competition. After competing in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella south quarterfinals last weekend in Athens, Georgia at the Morton Theatre, the Philharmonics will advance to the semifinals on March 14 in Greensboro, N.C., where they will compete against first- and second-place winners from each south quarterfinal.Also competing at the quarterfinals were the Accidentals of the University of Georgia, who took first place, With Someone Else's Money and Noteworthy, also from the University of Georgia and Clemson University's TakeNote.

To be able to compete, the Philharmonics had to submit a recording and prepare a 12-minute show. This year the group raised $4,000 to fund the cost of their trip, most of which came from singing at Christmas concerts and selling CDs and shirts. The Phils also received donations from Philharmonics alumni as well as the Student Activities Fund.

Brown College senior Gillian Kruse said a common bond helped the Phils place so high.

"The fact that we all love to sing certainly helps a lot with us doing so well," she said. "Working together towards a common goal helped us to become a more cohesive group and gain a better understanding of what we needed to do to perform to our best level."

The Phils found success through a three-song set, including Hide and Seek, with Kruse as soloist; Sandcastle Disco, performed by Wiess College junior Carmen Perez; and Accidentally in Love, sung by Baker College senior Payton Odom. The Philharmonics write the arrangements for all of their performances.

In both 2001 and 2004 the Phils competed in competitions, but were never able to advance to the semifinals before. Kruse said although they enjoy competing, the logistics do not work out every year , as most ICCA participants and competition locations are on the east coast.

"It is a very entertaining and a worthwhile experience, but since we are the only group from Texas which tries to compete on a regular basis, we will always have to travel," Kruse said.

For the Philharmonics, performing in front of a theater full of fellow musicians was a memorable experience, according to Kruse.

"While it will be nice to get back to singing normal concerts for Owl Days and other events, I won't ever forget feeling like a rock star after we sang," Kruse said.

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