Award-winning Group Won’t Compromise: BYU’s Vocal Point Earns National Recognition, but Won’t Compete on Sunday

Brigham Young University has yet another trophy for it’s ever-growing cabinet of accolades. VOCAL POINT, the university’s premiere pop a cappella ensemble, earned a spot at the Finals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, scheduled for next month at New York City’s Lincoln Center, signifying Vocal Point’s status as one of the six best groups in the nation.

But the group won’t be going.

Several months ago, 104 groups across the U.S. and Canada were selected to compete for the title. Since the finals were scheduled for a Monday night in late April, Vocal Point submitted their audition tape and fixed their sights on New York City.

After the competition began, sponsors of the competition moved the finals to Sunday night, in hopes that a weekend night would draw a bigger crowd. Since there is a long-standing policy at BYU against participating in competitions on Sunday, the group had a choice to make.

“We could either drop out of the competition altogether, or just see how far we could get,” said Bob Ahlander, Vocal Point’s faculty director and co-founder. “The guys talked about it together and ultimately they wanted to see if they had what it took to make it to the final round.”

At the beginning of February, the first round of competition had Vocal Point earning second place in their region, with a group from Stanford University placing first. Competition rules stipulate that the top two groups in the quarterfinal round advance to the next level, so Vocal Point was still in the running.

With a small adjustment to their competition set and a break-neck performance schedule (the group did 17 performances in the month of February alone, singing at nearly every major venue for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games and a short out-of-state tour), Vocal Point was primed and ready for the next round.

March came, and with it the semi-finals for the Western Region, held in California at Stanford University.

“We weren’t nervous or anything. We knew we wouldn’t go to the Finals even if we won, so there was no pressure,” remarks Ben Mason, the group’s student music director. “We just went out and had a blast.”

The group gave a stellar performance and it paid off: First place for Vocal Point. Cheered on by a clearly impressed audience, the group accepted their trophies and made their way back to Utah the next day.

The following Monday the group officially conceded their spot to the second place group, an ensemble from the University of Oregon. “It was the right decision,” says Dave Gale, a Broadcasting major and Vocal Point’s vocal percussionist. “We would love to go to New York, but it’s a privilege to attend this great university and being one of the six best groups in the country is still a huge honor.”

The competition isn’t the end of the road for Vocal Point. They still have their final concert of the year (historically a sell-out show to 1400 people) and will spend most of April in the recording studio working on a new CD.

“It’s been a great year,” says Mason. “But next year, if the finals are on any night but Sunday, you can plan on seeing us in the lineup.”


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