Durham Academy a cappella group XIV Hours brought tears to the eyes of audience members at the International Championship of High School A Cappella semifinal last weekend.
The performance — which carried an important message about gender roles and respect in relationships and mirrors an ongoing conversation in the Upper School — marked the group’s first time competing in ICHSA. The theme was framed through a three-act mashup of pop songs, each exploring relationship expectations through a different lens. XIV Hours was among 10 high school groups selected to participate in the South Semifinal on the merits of an audition video submitted earlier in the school year.
While the group wasn’t chosen to advance to the New York semifinals, XIV Hours’ storytelling won the hearts and minds of everyone in the audience. ICHSA judge James Harrington echoed the group’s impact in a post on the Contemporary A Cappella Society Facebook page:
“I hope everyone is encouraged by the fact that a bunch of high school students eschewed the standard 3-4 pop song set to continue their campus-wide dialogue on issues of ‘hook-up’ culture and male-female relationships and power dynamics,” he wrote in part. “In the process, they made a huge emotional impact on the audience (and judges). They are literally everything that is right with high school a cappella.”
XIV Hours was honored with the Best Choreography Award, a tribute to the creativity of Upper School music teacher Michael Meyer and XIV Hours member Ariana Sheeks, who choreographed the set together. For Meyer, it was gratifying to witness his students pour their hearts into the project.
“This is the most I’ve ever seen students of mine get into something we were working on. Since we began thinking and talking about this set back in October, the kids have completely bought into both the process and the importance of the story we’re trying to tell,” Meyer said.
Learn more about the inspiration for the set at http://bit.ly/1LLgbGk.