The High Howlers, USD’s a cappella group, is bringing the movie “Pitch Perfect” to life on campus.
Starting their second year as a student organization, the High Howlers have started rehearsals and hope to advance to the semifinal round of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella competition in the spring.
Co-founders Kevin Phillips and Marty Balmer said advancing to semifinals in this year’s competition would be a step up from making it to quarterfinals last year.
Last year was the first time USD had sent a group to ICCA. In addition to competing in the ICCA, the group sings at local events such as Dakotathon and choir concerts.
“We had fun singing at Dakotathon and it was for a good cause,” Balmer said.
Phillips said there was an a cappella group on campus called Swing Set, but the name changed when he and Balmer took over.
“We were both part of (Swing Set),” Phillips said. “They focused on mostly jazz music.”
Balmer said when the student who ran the group graduated, she couldn’t find anyone who wanted to take over.
“She asked us to do it and we said, ‘Sure, absolutely,’ but then we got to thinking about it and decided we wanted to do something a little different,” Phillips said. “So we took the old group and adapted it and made our own thing out of it, and that’s how High Howlers came to be. We focus mainly on pop music and we go and compete in ICCA, which is in ‘Pitch Perfect.'”
The group has 16 members and is still looking for a beat boxer to join the group.
“Last year we didn’t really get the word out quick enough, so the majority of our majors were music majors, but this year there’s a little bit more of a variety,” Phillips said.
Sophomore vocal performance major Bailey Quade said the group has given her a unique performance experience.
“We didn’t have show choir at my high school, so this was my first time doing anything not choral, so that was pretty exciting,” she said.
New member Jack Edson, a junior, said he’s excited for the friends he’ll make in the group.
“I’m looking forward to the community,” Edson said. “I did notice from the outside that this was a very close-knit group, and I’m looking forward to being part of that family.”
Phillips said while running the group can be stressful at times, he enjoys the experience.
“Last year we had a lot of stress because it was new, but it was fun,” he said. “But I think the idea of being part of something that everyone has sense of, like ‘Pitch Perfect,’ is kind of fun.”