THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF COLLEGIATE

A CAPPELLA

DEAR FRIENDS,

 

Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 21st season! After two incredible decades of presenting the best student groups – on stage and in the studio – our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever.

Our tournament has grown from a handful of events to the massive showcase it is today, featuring nearly 500 groups and 8,000 singers at 81 events across the US and UK.

Our tournament has inspired the hit movie Pitch Perfect, based on the non-fiction book documenting the true story of rival groups competing against each other in our very own ICCA. Already the highest-grossing musical series of all time, the franchise will release its third film at the end of this year.

The stories of our real ICCA competitors are also the subject on the TV docu-series Sing It On, which follows competing groups on their journey to ICCA Finals. Sing It On aired in 80 million homes on POP TV and is now available on Netflix.

Despite the incredible growth and mainstream popularity we’ve enjoyed, our focus remains sharply on the promotion and development of the talent that crosses our stage. We believe competition fosters growth, as groups work together toward a specific goal and cultivate lifelong friendships.

We provide top-notch feedback from our highly qualified judges – but more importantly, our singers get to connect with a larger audience from across the country, learning from their peers and finding inspiration in other groups.

With those same goals in mind, we are thrilled to launch the International Championship of A Cappella Open this year. “The Open” (#acaopen) is an all-access a cappella tournament that will bring together singers of all ages, regardless of student status, to compete on an international stage.

The 2017 Open Finals will take place in Carnegie Hall on Saturday, September 23, and the winner will receive a cash prize of $25,000 to launch their professional career. The winners of the 2017 ICCA and ICHSA tournaments are automatically entered in The Open Finals.

We hope The Open will encourage the growth of professional a cappella, much in the way the ICCA helped catapult competitive a cappella into the mainstream in Pitch Perfect and Sing It On, or how the development of the ICHSA contributed to the rapid growth of high school a cappella programs across the country.

This is the biggest program extension in our long history, and we think it’s a natural one. After all, our founding goal was “to inspire young people to sing their entire lives.” If we want people to keep singing past the age of 22, well, they’re going to need a stage.

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 21 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2017 season takes us. Committed to promoting our singers and energized by the great music they create, we look forward to another memorable season. Thank you for joining us!
 

Sincerely,

Amanda Newman
Executive Director

ICCA UNITED KINGDOM SEMIFINAL

 

New Wimbledon Theatre Saturday, March 25, 2017

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ABOUT VARSITY VOCALS

 

Since 1996, we have encouraged students worldwide to sing a cappella throughout their lives. Our programs include the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) and the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA). We also produce the annual Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and Best of High School A Cappella (BOHSA) compilation albums.

Our a cappella competitions give top-notch a cappella groups the opportunity to showcase their talents for an international audience and to take home valuable feedback from our qualified judges. This year, competing groups will appear in venues all around the world, offering their energetic musical performances for your enjoyment.

The college tournament takes place from January through April in nine regions across the country and around the world. Each region holds anywhere from 2 to 5 quarterfinals, and the top groups from each quarterfinal advance to the semifinal. The winning group at each semifinal is named Regional Champion and advances to the ICCA Finals at the historic Beacon Theatre in New York City.

The high school tournament is now in its 12th year and continues to grow fast. We are now holding quarterfinal rounds in most regions, so that we can feature even more high school groups. The winners of each of 8 semifinal rounds will advance to the ICHSA Finals at The Town Hall in New York City.

For a full tournament schedule, visit us at www.varsityvocals.com.

ABOUT TONIGHT'S SHOW

 

The performance order was determined by random draw this afternoon and will be announced from stage.        

Tonight’s performers will be evaluated on elements of their vocal and visual performance, which carry numerical weight. The highest and lowest score from the individual judges will be dropped for each group. Our judges may recognize exceptional performances with special awards as they see fit.

There will be a 15-minute intermission. After the final group has performed, a guest performer will entertain you while the scores are tabulated.

After the results are announced, the winners will perform and encore. Please show the winners the same courtesy and respect you’d want your favorite group to be shown and remain in the venue until they have finished their performance.    

Because each group only has 12 minutes to perform, we ask you to keep your applause to an enthusiastic minimum between songs. Please feel welcome to applaud as much as you want after each group has finished its set.

Videotaping and non-flash photography for personal use is permitted during the concert, so long as you do not disrupt our performers or other patrons. Due to licensing regulations, we do not provide a video or audio recording of this performance.

TONIGHT'S COMPETITORS

 

The Rolling Tones is an all-female a cappella group from King's College London. They love to sing music from a wide range of artists and genres, and are passionate about every facet of performance. Formed in 2007, they have since been invited to perform at many significant events, including David Byrne's Meltdown festival at The Royal Festival Hall with Petra Haden, the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics, and the RBS International Women's Day Event in 2014. They have performed several successful sets at the Brandenburg Choral Festival, and continue to sing at various events across London. In 2015, they reached the Finals of Voice Festival U.K. with Zara Tso's award-winning arrangement of “Awake My Soul” by Mumford & Sons. 2016 saw them repeat this feat, making them the only all-female group to have reached Finals for consecutive years in the competition's nine-year history!

Originally founded in 1998 as a 30-strong, conducted jazz ensemble, Cadenza evolved into a smaller, close-harmony a cappella group in 2002. Since then, the group has had a number of successes, winning the Voice Festival U.K. University Championships in 2011, and placing 1st in the Cambridge A Cappella Competition in 2015. Made up of Cambridge students, Cadenza is famous for its bombastic, beautiful arrangements and striking choreography, as well as a unique sense of humour and jaw-dropping mashups. With genre-spanning arrangements of their favourite tunes, the singers of Cadenza perform throughout the year, culminating in the best entertainment that Cambridge's infamous May Week has to offer. In the past year, Cadenza hosted the amazing Vanderbilt Melodores from the U.S. in a sold-out joint concert, and was a Voice Festival U.K. Finalist in 2016, winning an award for Outstanding Musicality in Semifinals, as well as the award for Outstanding Arrangement in the Final for its chilling version of “Hide and Seek.”

After winning The Voice Festival U.K. University Competition last April, and officially selling out its second Edinburgh Fringe show ever, The Bristol Suspensions is so excited to take part in the ICCA! Now in its third year of existence, The Bristol Suspensions is keen to build on its success last year making it to Semifinals, and hopes to make it even further. At its heart, this group simply loves singing together, and regardless of the result here, a trip to the U.S. is still in the cards, with its first-ever international tour of Northeastern U.S. this September! This year has already been a busy one, raising funds for this tour, but The Suspensions are so excited to show the best of what they've been working on to an a cappella-loving audience tonight!

Illuminations is a contemporary mixed a cappella group from the University of Exeter. They blossomed on the a cappella scene with last year’s showing at the ICCA, their explosion into the Exeter scene, and ambitions to go into the Fringe. While they made ICCA Quarterfinals last year, they’ve since upped their game on all fronts, with a bigger sound, grander, more dynamic moves, and a message to their audiences as vibrant as the orange they wear. With all this in mind, and with the path that Techtonics has paved for U.K. a cappella, Illuminations thinks it can push beyond Quarterfinals, square up to the big groups, and with proven dedication, overcome them.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far in the Northeast corner of Somerset, in the West of England, there was a little town called Bath. In this little town there was a University, and in this University was an a cappella group. It was called Aquapella, named after the two things that all its members needed to survive: water and a cappella singing. The group was happy and everything was good. But, just out of earshot was an evil dragon, that hadn’t always been evil, had no reason to be good, having never heard Aquapella. One day, Aquapella decided to cheer up the dragon with Ear Pleasure. This Ear Pleasure, which went on to be called “EP,” was recorded, put on all good music platforms, and sent to the dragon. The dragon listened and was happy. With his newly kind disposition, the dragon thought to repay Aquapella for its lovely gift. He flew over to the little town of Bath and said, “Aquapella, I give you the gifts of my people. First, I give you scales.” Aquapella took the scales, learnt them, and now sings them with pride. The dragon continued, “I also give you the ability to spit fire.” Aquapella took the fire and used it to make all of its songs hot. They thanked the dragon, and everyone lived happily ever after. The End.

The Northern Lights is a mixed a cappella group from Durham University. 2016 was their busiest year to date, marking the release of their first EP, Bright Lights, Small City, and a music video for the track, “Don't Look Back in Anger/Nobody to Love,” which showcases the beauty of a very sunny Durham. 2016 also marked their third year at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with nearly 450 coming to see their show, “The Voice Awakens,” over the six-day run! Northern Lights are excited to get involved in the ICCA again - venturing outside their usual domain of college balls and formals in Durham. With the addition of 6 new members, they can't wait for the year ahead and all the exciting ventures in store!

The Accidentals is The University of St. Andrews' first all-female a cappella group. The current group is made up of nine girls from all over the world and its diversity is reflected in the wide range of music they produce. They are a very collaborative group, and all of their work is an amalgamation of all their efforts and ideas. They pride themselves on being a close group of girls who are fun, sassy, and fierce, and each brings something different to the table. However, they share the belief that enjoying themselves onstage is the key to a great performance! They have placed 3rd in the Scottish A Cappella Championships, released their second music video, “Who Did That To You?,” and their second EP, Welcome To Queendom. They’ve also been working hard on new material that they cannot wait to share! Competing is one of the most exciting parts of being in a cappella group, and they feel it makes them even closer and more motivated to do the best they can. They’re so excited return to the ICCA this year and wish all other competitors the best of luck!

Founded in 2011, Aberpella is the U.K.'s northernmost collegiate a cappella group hailing (literally) from the grey paradise of Aberdeen. They perform regularly at local events across the icy wastelands of northern Scotland, to the delight of local farmers. Aberpella has grown from strength to strength over the past few years, making appearances at the Scottish A Cappella Championships and the Semifinals of Voice Festival U.K., as well as recording its debut EP. Often bringing hilarity to their performances, Aberdeen's only co-ed group is well-known in the area and looks to make an impression at its first appearance at the ICCA this year. With a back catalogue of songs ranging from heart wrenching ballads to Shania Twain, Aberpella hopes to bring you anything but a grey performance from the Granite City.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

An alum of the University of Vermont Top Cats, Nick Girard is the founder/director of Overboard and a member of The House Jacks. In recent years, Nick has expanded his involvement in a cappella from performing to producing with the formation of his full-service a cappella production house, Overboard Productions, which offers arranging, recording and coaching services to high school, university and community groups domestically and worldwide. Through his performing and producing endeavors, Nick has arranged and
produced tracks for EPIC Records, Sony Pictures and Ford, and has had his work featured on the CBS Early Show, the Today Show and the BBC, among others.

Jack Blume 
is a composer of music for film, television and theatre. His music has been used in everything from advertising campaigns to international feature films, and his a cappella arrangements have been performed on stages across the UK, in New York, Hong Kong, on BBC One, BBC Two, and BBC Radio 2 (Simon Mayo Drivetime). In 2015, along with Nic Doodson of The Magnets, Jack co-created "Gobmacked!," a mainstream a cappella stage show, featuring world champion beatboxers and some of the best vocal talent in the country. After five-star runs in Edinburgh and Hong Kong, the show had a five-week run at London's Southbank, before touring to Europe, Asia, and Australia. Jack started his a cappella career as music director and beatboxer for The Sons of Pitches (the winners of BBC Two's 'The Naked Choir'), and he continues to work closely with them in various capacities.

James Rose 
is a London-based producer and arranger with an extensive, varied portfolio of arrangements and originals for groups, choirs and bands, including Naturally 7, NBC’s ‘The Sing-Off’ winners Committed, The Filharmonic, The Swingles,The Real Group, and Rajaton. Over the years, James has become a veteran performer, performing worldwide with acclaimed internet sensation group, Accent (six-part vocal group). He is course director of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama's Contemporary A Cappella Summer School and works with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain."

Since graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Liz Swain has become a well-established and versatile ensemble vocalist, MD, and soloist, known for her passionate and forward-thinking approach. She has sung with The Swingles, Voxtet, flamenco legend Paco Peña, Mary King, the 606 Gospel Group, Chantage and the Aurora Orchestra, and appeared at international venues and festivals including the Montreux and London Jazz Festivals, the Proms, the Big Chill, the Royal Festival Hall, The Barbican, and the London A Cappella Festival. Her work has been featured on radio and television worldwide, including underscoring for NBC’s “The Sing Off.” Liz leads a choir for national musical charity, The Choir With No Name, and runs workplace choirs at The Guardian newspaper and Comic Relief. As founder and musical director of London’s ambitious XL vocal group, SOUND, Liz is dedicated to creating opportunities for vocalists, expanding choral education, and pushing creative boundaries of the U.K. vocal scene. For more information, visit www.lizswain.co.uk.

Luke Stevenson
is a musician, composer and music educator from Melbourne, Australia. He has won multiple national awards, toured internationally with numerous ensembles (including Suade, Australia’s number-one all-male a cappella band), and conducted his own commissioned works for a number of ensembles, choirs and orchestras around Australia. Luke is a flexible performer and composer, with experience in a wide range of styles including classical, jazz, pop, rock and funk. He is widely sought as an arranger, composer, performer, and educator, where he has been successful in implementing singing and arranging programs in schools around Australia and overseas. Luke currently lives in London and is excited to judge Finals for both ICCA U.K. and the Voice Festival U.K. in 2017.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Chris Witham, Helena Benthall, Arran Bayliss-Chalmers, Twyla Doone, Farah Shair, Robin Conway, Sam Cunningham, Capital Sound, Greg Allen, Emma Brack, Jack Rigby, Emily Collison, All Staff at the New Wimbledon Theatre, Jack Hobbs, Jane and Andy Fenning, David Harrod, Max Hunter, Hugh Walker, Peter Noden, Kevin Fox, Ed Randell and The Swingles; our judges, hosts, competitors, volunteers, partners, and producers; and you, the audience, for supporting Varsity Vocals programming.

 

Amanda Newman
Executive Director

Dave Rabizadeh
ICCA Director

Andrea Poole
ICHSA Director

Lucy Jackson
The Open Director
ICCA Southwest Producer

ICCA Northwest Producer

Andrew Poole
Director of Digital Media

Emily Sucher
Director of Publications

Erica Tackett
Director of Marketing & Social Strategy

Virginia DeMoss
Album Production Coordinator

Mark Chen
Adjudication Co-Director

Emily Flanders
Adjudication Co-Director
ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Sara Yood
ICCA & ICHSA Finals Producer
ICHSA Northeast Producer

 

Holly Hayes
ICCA Northeast Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Andy Pacer
ICCA Central Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
ICCA Midwest Producer

Matt Shirer
ICHSA West Producer

Henry Harrod
ICCA UK Producer

Elise Hackl
ICHSA Midwest Producer
ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
ICHSA South Producer
ICHSA Southwest Co-Producer

Pearce Illmer
ICHSA Southwest Co-Producer

Courtney Jensen
ICHSA Northwest Producer

OUR TEAM

 

We have an amazing team of people who work tirelessly to make our programs so valuable for our singers and audiences alike — and they all do it while holding down full-time day jobs, too! 

 

The top placing group advances to ICCA Finals.

THE OPEN

 

The International Championship
of A Cappella Open

ARE YOU READY?

Carnegie Hall
Saturday, September 23, 2017

BRING THE HARMONY HOME

 

Find your favorite groups on Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and Best of High School A Cappella (BOHSA), available for purchase on iTunes and Loudr!

PURCHASE & DOWNLOAD

GET THE GEAR

 

Just in time for the start of the 2017 ICCA and ICHSA season, the official Varsity Vocals store is open for business! Did your favorite group make it on BOCA or BOHSA this year? Are you competing in the 2017 ICCA or ICHSA? Is your favorite group competing and you want to be properly attired at the show? Represent with your very own official Varsity Vocals swag!

 

SHOP VARSITY VOCALS

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