I had the pleasure of watching the first ever Akapela Open last night at the Meralco Theater. It was a contemporary a capella singing contest participated in by various groups all over the country. Beloved Maestro Ryan Cayabyab was the brains behind this project and he had the support of the PhilPop Foundation and many other companies in this venture to further yet another aspect of Original Pilipino Music.
A total of 9 groups made it to the finals (I understand several groups auditioned from Metro Manila and many provinces well) - and three groups were chosen as winners.
The show opened with an a capella medley arranged by Mr.C himself and performed by RCS singers and Baihana.
Almost all groups (all except 1) performed with a beat-boxer and I was pleasantly surprised to see that what used to be somewhat of a novelty (there was a time that it seemed to me only the Akafellas could do this sort of thing) is now becoming almost a standard requirement for contemporary a capella performances in this country.
And here are the 9 contestants. (I hope I got the group names and spelling right.)
While judges deliberated, the 3 hosts for that evening (I would've appreciated if they had introduced themselves in the beginning of the show!) had the audience in stitches with their a capella improvisation segment.
And then awarding time came.
Best vocal arrangement (all vocal arrangements had to be original) went to the group 1415.
Third Prize Winner was 1415.
Second Prize Winner was Pinopela.
First Prize went to Akapela Go.
My personal favorite among the contestants was Pinopela, who won Second Prize, but I do believe the First Prize winner Akapella Go (love the name!) deserved their victory, too - considering the level of difficulty of singing when you have practically just a quartet plus a beat-boxer (who gave a solid performance too, by the way). I had a couple of friends who were members of Third Prize Winner 1415 as well so I'm happy for them, too!
If there was an award for best beat-boxer though, I would have given it to Taftonic's female beat-boxer who surprised us all and made the audience break the rule of not applauding until the number was over. Wouldn't be one bit surprised if she started appearing on TV and making a career of this talent of hers. (I wonder if she'd be open to performing with our La Salle group Mass Appeal. La Salle din naman eh. Hmm...;-) )
Although I continue to sing with a couple of choirs, I have had limited experience in singing a capella with microphones onstage, and that limited experience has made me realize how difficult and even confusing and disorienting it can be to hear your voice from another source and still have to balance it everything out with the people you're singing with. I have utmost respect for local groups like Tux, The CompanY and Baihana who have made it seem so easy. Even without the use of beat-boxers, these groups still set the standard for effective arrangement and clean harmonies that future Akapela Open contestants can pick up from.
Congratulations to all the winners, participants and organizers of the first Akapaela Open! Looking forward to more in the years to come.
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My name is Trina Belamide and I'm a songwriter and record producer.
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