A triumphant chorus of “The Victors” rang throughout the Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City last Sunday as Compulsive Lyres, a University student a cappella vocal group, received first place in the seventh annual International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella competition.
Musical Director and University alum Mark Surprenant, who received the award for Best Musical Arrangement, said the group was proud of their success.
“The biggest thing for most of us was just having a chance to win a national championship,” Surprenant said. “It was a big thing because we really just worked from the ground up, starting this time last year.”
But their dedication, particularly in the past year, earned them more than just the top ranking and Best Musical Arrangement at last Sunday’s competition. Jesse Nager received the Best Soloist award for his performance in the group’s rendition of Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.”
Compulsive Lyers has not always been so acclaimed. When the group started, the focus of its members was not necessarily on competition. This year was the first year the group competed nationally.
“You can’t say the groups past was a failure, just that its purpose was different,” Surprenant said.
According to their website, Compulsive Lyres was originally formed in the fall of 1997 as the a cappella group of the University Greek System under the name of “Greek to Mi.”
The group experienced many transformations, switching their name to “Compulsive Lyres” in January of 1998 and dropping their official connection to the Greek system in January of 2001. The change allowed all University students the chance to audition.
“All I knew was that we’d had so much fun in Greek Week sing that we just wanted to keep on singing,” said Surprenant of the group’s founding.
“I came in this fall as the music director and I guess what we say is that we didn’t know if we could be good, but we just wanted to know what would happen if we tried,” he added. “This was supposed to be a building year for us. Nobody expected success this quickly. The national title is really great but the whole year has just been amazing … you can see the growth.”
The win marks the first time in history that a University a cappella group has won top national ranking.
Following their win, the group was rewarded with the opportunity to perform on NBC’s Today Show the April 29, rocking the national audience with their rendition of U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Lookin’ For,” a song that they also performed at the competition.
To recent LSA graduate Susan Daily, Compulsive Lyres was more than just a vocal group.
“The best part of the whole experience for me was getting to share the victory with fifteen of my closest friends,” she said.
Superenant echoed the sentiment. “I’ve never seen a group as close knit and supportive as these people,” he said.
The group isn’t stopping with their win. This year they were accepted into the “Best of College A Capella” CD, a national collection of recordings from the top college a cappella groups in the country.
They also plan to continue bringing music to the campus and the nation with more concerts and plans for the production of their first full-length CD, “Compulsive Lyres: 12 Step Program.”