Members of Aural Pleasure, an Emory a capella group, won the ICCA quarter finals with their performance of "Take Me to Church" by Hozier. | Courtesy of Tom Cassaro

Members of Aural Pleasure, an Emory a capella group, won the ICCA quarter finals with their performance of “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. | Courtesy of Tom Cassaro

Emory’s a cappella group Aural Pleasure performed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) in Athens, Georgia, at the University of Georgia (UGA) on Saturday, Jan. 31, where the team’s 15 members sang “Take Me to Church” by Hozier and emerged victorious.

As a result, Aural Pleasure now has the opportunity to represent Emory on a national level.

The competition was split into six regions, each of which has three to four quarterfinals. Aural Pleasure competed in the Southern region alongside eight other groups, including Emory’s own Dooley Noted, another a cappella group.

Other local universities represented in the competition included the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Georgia, University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Georgia State University.

Since Aural Pleasure won the quarterfinals, the team will compete at the semifinals in Florida on March 21.

According to College freshman James Kennedy, who is a baritone for Aural Pleasure and also choreographed Saturday’s performance, the a cappella group entered the competition by creating an audition video.

In the video, the team sang “Bottom of the River” by Delta Rae, “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men and “Over the Love” by Florence and the Machine.

Kennedy said the competition was a blur and mentally, a lot to handle.

“I was just trying to stay focused on the music,” Kennedy said. “I didn’t see the audience, I just remember counting every single beat and trying to get everything perfect.”

Tom Cassaro, College senior and president of Aural Pleasure, experienced a similar state of absorption, describing the energy onstage as palpable.

“When we got on stage, it was unlike anything I’ve felt before,” Cassaro said. “Everything else melted away, and all I could think about was the song I was singing and the emotion behind it.”

Aural Pleasure is Emory’s oldest co-ed a cappella group, founded in 1994.

The group mainly performs pop songs on campus and around the Atlanta area and has toured as far away as the Bahamas.

The group has recorded nine CDs. The most recent CD was realized in April 2014 and a 10th one is coming out next year.

Practice is normally twice a week, although they increased in frequency and intensity in the period before the ICCA.

Apart from the ICCA semifinal, Aural Pleasure is also looking forward to their two annual spring concerts. The first will be in March at the Planetarium in the Math and Science Center and the second will be their end-of-the-year concert. The ensemble hopes to make it an alumni reunion concert as well, in honor of Aural Pleasure’s 21st anniversary.

“I would describe Aural Pleasure as a family. When it comes down to it, we all just love to sing and that’s what drives us to be who we are,” Cassaro said.

– By Ana Ioachimescu, Staff Writer