Photography and photojournalism in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

Live! Tonight! Soul’d Out!

A Cappella vocal competition is a rising force at both the high school and college level, and Saturday night’s International High School Competition of A Cappella Northwest Regionals showed off an even dozen groups from Oregon, Washington, California and even Wyoming.

Held Saturday, Jan. 28, at Rolling Hills Church in Tualatin, with its 1,500 seat amphitheatre, the event propelled winning group Mezzo Devotion (above) of Newberg High School to an April date at the Lincoln Center in New York City. There, they will compete in the national finals, where last year Wilsonville High School’s Soul’d Out (below) used its runner-up finish to secure a spot on NBC Television’s “The Sing Off.”

Shooting at Rolling Hills is not terrible close to the stage, although high ISO settings are required. The dilemma comes when the darkened interior meets the bright house lights onstage. The resulting high contrast scenes can easily cause blown highlights if you’re not careful.

Enough technical talk, though, the music was fantastic. A cappella has grown in popularity across the country in recent years, highlighted by “The Sing Off,” which recently completed its third season by crowning the Dartmouth (College) Aires as the new champions, complete with a Sony recording contract.

Soul’d Out earned a shot on the show after an impressive audition last June. They were forced to keep their selection a secret for several more months until the final lineup was revealed by NBC. Soul’d Out was ultimately voted off the show in the first round. But their appearance as the first high school competitors certainly put a new spotlight on a cappella in popular culture, as shown in this interview with group member Ethan Crystal, now a student at the Carnegie Mellon School of Music. Complete photo gallery here.

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