Polarity, Waverly High School’s first-ever a cappella group, placed third in the 35th annual Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival National Finals held at the Marin Veterans’ Memorial auditorium at San Rafael, California on May 18.
In addition to the group’s 3rd-place win, Polarity was voted “Audience Favorite” at the event.
“I was told we won (audience favorite) by a landslide,” Radford said.
Polarity’s appearance at the National Finals followed the group’s first-place win at the Harmony Sweepstakes Midwest Semi-Finals in Chicago on Saturday, March 30.
The group features students Kayleah Shiland, Mattie Elliott, Fabby Corwin, Cami Craig, Jack Pfeifer, Andrew Pfeifer, and Noah Clifton.
“I was in complete awe and shock,” said Matt Radford, Waverly School choir director, about the group’s placement in the Harmony Sweepstake competition. “The students have worked hard for this and to be named third in the nation is a feeling unlike anything else. The group is already making plans to go back and take the national title next year.”
“I competed in finals in a collegiate a cappella group, Remedy, from the University of Dayton,” Radford said. “When my group competed, we didn’t place. I will never hear the end of that from the Polarity kids. Hey, they’re better than me, and I’m okay with that.”
The group humbly accepted the third-place finish, according to Radford.
“They were pretty excited to hear their names called for third place and for ‘Audience Favorite’ voted by the audience,” Radford said. “There were many smiles from the Polarity kids. As a director, I was happy to see how humble they were about receiving third. They were kind and courteous talking with the other groups after the show, congratulating all of the performers.”
Radford went on to praise the seven competing groups at the California competition.
“Chicago had some groups that were really good and some ‘okay’ groups,” he said. “Finals had seven unbelievable groups. All of the singers perform on a daily basis; most are paid professionals in the field. For these teenagers (Polarity) to hold their own against seasoned professionals left me in awe.”
Polarity has received televised publicity from NBC “out of Columbus and Huntington,” will be singing the National Anthem (from Polarity’s track, “God Bless the U.S.A.”) at the Red, White and Boom Independence Day fireworks display in Columbus, and will be featured on the 8 O’clock Hour with NBC 4 co-anchors Matt Barnes and Monica Day prior to the Red, White and Boom fireworks show.
“We are so grateful for the friends we’ve made at NBC,” said Radford. “They have treated us so well and have opened so many doors for us. They are continuing to help us over the next year with a few new projects. Stay tuned.”
Polarity’s third-place win “opens many doors for the group,” Radford said. “We’ve already started planning our next year. We plan to compete in the International Championship of High School A Cappella, which is the competition based on ‘Pitch Perfect.’”
“The group has fallen in love with competing, something I already love, and am glad to see their love,” said Radford. “The students are taking more interest in performing and mastering their art. I’ve told the students that now I feel like less of their teacher and more of their adviser. They are making music on their own. They hear the tuning of chords, matching of vowels, blending of dissonances just as I do.”
Radford said he did not expect Polarity, a group he started as a way to recruit students for the choir, to experience its many successes (a viral video, competition wins, and televised appearances) this school year.
“The video was a way to say thanks to veterans and also get our name out in the community,” Radford said. “I never expected the video to go viral or spread across the country. I receive messages daily containing gig requests, donations, requests for more music and general thank you’s. ... Winning third place was just icing on the cake to a wonderful year.”
Radford said he is frequently asked how he will top whatever he is working on at the time (musical, Polarity, choirs, etc.)
“Little does this community know, I’m already planning the next big thing that has ever been tried in Waverly,” he said. “What can I say? Sometimes I get bored. I need a challenge. I also believe that students rise to the occasion and will reach for a high-set bar. Once they grasp it, I raise the bar.”
Polarity will be hosting a Welcome Home Concert at 7 p.m., May 29 in the Waverly High School Auditorium.
“It will be an awesome show,” Radford said. “It’s a true rock concert — lots of sound, lights, fog, haze, smoke and dry-ice. You don’t want to miss it.”
Tickets are $5 and are available at the door, as well as online at www.showtix4u.com/16133 .