The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Local a cappela group wins division

    Kyle Seidel

    What do you get when you combine three tenors, one baritone, one bass and a vocal percussionist? The Fifth Element with one ICCA divisional title.

    The UW-Eau Claire-based group took first in its division last Saturday at Millikin University, in Decatur, Ill., in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella and will now move on to the regional competition Saturday in Madison.

    Senior Anne Verbeten traveled with some friends to see Fifth Element compete.

    “When they won, we pretty much flipped out,” she said.

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    Senior Steve Howe, the group’s music director, also was honored with the best vocal percussion and said the next level will not be easy.

    “The regional will be exceptionally harder,” he said.

    It will be up against groups that finished first in their divisions, as well as groups that qualified by competing in the regional semi-finals. Howe said the process was comparable to NFL playoffs and having a bye week or not.

    Placing first this Saturday would move the group onto the International Finals, which will be held in Alice Tully Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center.

    “We have a positive feeling about this round,” Howe said. “Our goal is to be in the top three.”

    Verbeten said she encourages people to go and support the group this weekend.

    “It’s going to be a great show,” she said. “More people there will not only help them, but help the crowd get into it.”

    Although Fifth Element is not an official music ensemble or student organization, Howe said, it is a self-proclaimed organization and always has been made up of Eau Claire students since it was formed seven years ago by members of the Singing Statesmen. Its current lineup includes junior Jon Kinney, tenor, senior Adam Krajnik, tenor, sophomore Alex Krukowski, tenor, junior Brad Schaack, baritone and senior Dan Sinclair, bass, with Howe supplying vocal percussion.

    Verbeten said she likes the group’s musical style.

    “I like their high energy, their awesome musicians, their harmony. And they know how to have fun on stage,” she said.

    Fifth Element performs on-campus near the end of each semester, Howe said, as well as participates in various on-campus concert events such as the Viennese Ball and Varsity Night Live. It also has toured area high schools and went on a tour of the Madison and Milwaukee areas, giving vocal workshops, he said.

    The band has released three CDs available on its Web site, It has done about a dozen originals songs over the years, Howe said, as well as around 200 covers.

    Although another CD is not yet in the works, the band still is looking toward the future, he said.

    “Our plan is to start to build our own sound system,” Howe said.

    The band recently has purchased seven wireless microphones, he said. They plan on using and renting them out to other groups. Currently, it has to occasionally rent equipment.

    Money generated by concerts and CD sales is not used for personal gain, Howe said. “All money goes back into the group.”

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    Local a cappela group wins division