Kol Haolam Competition
From March 11-13 I had the pleasure of travelling to Washington D.C. with Kol Hakavod, University of Michigan’s Jewish a capella group, to compete in Kol Haolam, a national Jewish a capella competition.
This was the 4th year Kol HaKavod participated in the competition, but being a new member it was my first time there. In the past our group has placed as highly as 3rd place in the competition. In addition to having fun and meeting other collegiate vocalists, we also hoped to place.
After arriving in Washington D.C. on March 11th and having some time to explore the area, we headed to the Adas Israel Synagogue for a welcome dinner. At the dinner we were immediately approached by members of other groups. So commenced the customary rounds of Jewish geography, discussing how our school’s basketball teams were doing, and comparing the internal dynamics of our respective groups. We were also approached by members of the synagogue who were former Wolverines and talked to them all about their Michigan experiences and ours. It’s a really beautiful thing that no matter where we go we will have fellow members of the Michigan community. Once dinner was over we headed home to get to bed early, knowing we had a long day ahead of us.
The next day morale was high and we were all extremely excited but also slightly nervous for our upcoming performance later that night. We all got brunch together in the morning, but soon after got down to business and started rehearsing our two songs: Sign and Ana Bekoach. The more we rehearsed, the more confident we became. We knew we were going to sound great on stage and have a ton of fun performing our set. Eventually we headed back to Adas Israel for our sound check. It was really exhilarating finally performing on that stage for the first time.
Following the sound check the rest of the night went by extremely fast. Between the Kol Haolam staff explaining the rules of the competition, getting in last minute rehearsing, taking part in Havdallah, and arriving at the start of the competition, I barely had a second to notice how quickly it was all flying by.
Immediately before going onstage we all took a moment together to just appreciate how hard we worked to get to that moment. This was when we realized that the true meaning of Kol Haolam was not the competition aspect, but the festival aspect. When we got on stage we celebrated and sang, proud to share all that we arranged and that was the most meaningful part of this experience. Despite not placing in the top 3, our group came out of this experience much stronger than we came in. We got to see different styles other groups used in arranging their music and what made a good performance. It was clear which groups in the competition stood out as exemplary and as we look forward to future years we hope we will be able to achieve those high levels of performance too. In the end we all had a great weekend sharing our love of singing and Judaism with the other groups and we can’t wait to go back.