December 5, 2013
On Sunday, Nov. 17 Hamilton’s newest a capella group turned heads and won Turning Stone Resort Casino’s first annual A Capella Showdown. Participating in their first ever competition, Duelly edged out teams from Colgate University, Syracuse University and Cornell University, among others.
Victory came as a surprise to the members of Duelly. Gabe Mollica ’14 said that, “winning was the last thing on most people’s mind.” Michael Dyer ’16 explained that the goal was simply to “stay cool and sing for the fun of it.” The groups were judged by a panel of three judges and the scores of each were combined with an audience vote to determine the winner.
The win shows how far Duelly Noted has come as a group since its founding in 2008. Mollica noted Duelly’s roots in practicing in the basement of List Arts Center without music. He explained that the founders “never even considered the possibility of singing in a competition” three-and-a-half years ago when this year’s seniors were first-years. Maxwell Coleman ’17 said the group was surprised to win, noting, “I was like a 10-year old girl, I was so excited.”
The group performed three songs that they arranged: Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” featuring Madison Kircher ’14, Stevie Wonder’s “As,” featuring Mollica, and Will Robertson’s ’14 “Telephone Medley.” The last song was the only piece performed in the competition designed as an ensemble showcase rather than arranged to spotlight a certain soloist. One judge after the show said Duelly’s focus on ensemble interaction set them apart from the other groups. Dyer described Duelly’s unique approach as a “wacky group creativity.” Unlike other groups where the focus was on creating well-blended back-ups for the soloist, Duelly’s arrangements were designed to have a lot of interplay between the soloist and rest of the group. Also, Coleman explained, the group does more than sing—they “put on a show for the audience.”
Mollica said that the competition was “a humbling but great experience.” As for the prize money, he expects the group will spend it on their upcoming East Coast tour over winter break. The group recently released an album Five in honor of the fifth year since their founding.