Blog Post #17 - "It's About The Journey, Not The Destination" A Falconize Member Recounts The Shortened ICHSA Season
By Guest Blogger: Mike Mahoney '20
Hey guys, my name is Mike Mahoney and I’m very excited to share a blog post with the chorus community! I’ll be writing about Falconize’s experience in the International Championship of High School A cappella (ICHSA) this year. I’ll discuss our creative process, what happened at quarterfinals, and what happened to semifinals and finals.
ICHSA calls for a set of songs which does not exceed 12 minutes. Since this is roughly enough time for 3 songs, Falconize works day and night to produce the strongest possible 3-song set that the group is capable of. We work tirelessly to tighten harmonies, build dynamic contrast, and unify choreography. During this 12-minute performance we give everything we have.
The ICHSA quarterfinal was the first competitive opportunity for the group this year. We had the privilege of competing against so many talented groups, and this year falconize scored first place (see full results below). It was an incredible feeling - all of our hard work had paid off. Falconize’s bond had never felt so tight, and that really shined through on that stage. ICHSA gave this year’s falconize the opportunity to grow closer than we ever had before (at least in my 4 years here). Falconize had transitioned from a group of friends to a family.
We came back strong in the following weeks trying to perfect our set. Although a quarterfinal victory felt good, we were thirsty for more. Through a vigorous daily rehearsal grind we had really started to polish things up. In addition to meeting every day during G block, during competition season, Falconize rehearses on Thursday nights from 7:00-9:00 and occasionally gets together on the weekend. We prepared in every way we could for the upcoming semifinal. Because of the coronavirus, we had to treat every rehearsal like it was our last.
A day last week, Mr. Grover received an email from Varsity Vocals, the company who runs ICHSA. This email announced that (due to the coronavirus) all semifinal rounds for the competition would be virtual. This meant that instead of performing live at the semifinal venues, each group would submit a video of their set. Luckily, Falconize had already planned on filming a video for our wildcard submission during class the next day. During this class period we ran through and filmed our set three times. We planned on filming again at our 7:00-9:00 rehearsal that night, but by the end of the day, school was cancelled for a full week, so we could not have rehearsal.
We were so thankful to have filmed when we did because the group would not have another chance to rehearse until long past the submission deadline, but we soon found out that this would not matter. I can still vividly remember my heartbreak when my mom read me Varsity Vocals’ update: “In keeping with shutdowns of Broadway, NCAA, and the NBA, it is with great sadness that Varsity Vocals is cancelling ICCA and ICHSA Finals in April.” We had been working toward this since school started, and now it was just ripped away. It was really hard to keep our heads up after this - hard, but not impossible. Mr. Grover had told us that it’s not the end result that’s important, but the process. Not the destination, but the journey. It’s great that we had ICHSA semifinals to work toward, for it pushed us every single day. However, the semifinal event wasn’t what was actually valuable; it was all the hard work we put in to get there. While working on our ICHSA set, Falconize developed stronger musicality, fiercer stage presence, cleaner choreography, and a tighter bond. I am beyond proud to call myself a member of this group. Falconize, you guys are my family.
Mike Mahoney is a senior at Danvers High School. He has been a member of Falconize for four years, and has served as student music director of the group for three years. Mike sits on the Chorus Executive Committee, is Drum Major of the Marching Band, and President of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. He has also sung with the MMEA Northeast District and All-State Choirs.