THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF HIGH SCHOOL

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

ICHSA SOUTHWEST QUARTERFINAL

 

Rockwall High School Performing Arts Center
Saturday, March 4, 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

 

Walk the Line is composed of 17 sophomores, juniors, and seniors from Rockwall High School in Rockwall, Texas. Directed by Leia Browning and choreographed by Sarah Acker, this former show choir has evolved into a full-time a cappella group, performing at sporting events, community gatherings, and many school district shows and concerts. In addition to singing in Walk the Line, all of these students are members of the RHS Chorale, involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, ACDEC, theatre, dance and drill teams, and 100% of them take private voice lessons to help hone their skills. This group has produced numerous ICCA participants and music majors who have continued loving a cappella in college. The current singers in Walk the Line hope to record their first album this school year and are excited to host their ICHSA Quarterfinal. These students are true fans of this art form and look forward to bringing their love of this genre to Rockwall and North Texas!

C'est la Vie is the women’s a cappella ensemble at Flower Mound High School in Flower Mound, Texas. C'est la Vie sings a variety of musical genres, including contemporary a cappella, jazz, and barbershop, and primarily rehearses before school. Potential members must audition into the group and also sing in one of the Flower Mound HS concert choirs. C'est la Vie has performed with a number of guest artists, including UNT Jazz Studies Professors Mike Steinel (trumpet) and Stefan Karlsson (piano).

Rhapsody is one of five choral ensembles offered at Big Spring High School in Big Spring, Texas. Rhapsody serves as an ambassador for the Big Spring district and is constantly in demand to perform for community events. This auditioned ensemble performs a variety of music styles, from pop a cappella to madrigals, and has a strong tradition of excellence. In 2014, Rhapsody won an a cappella contest to perform with the infamous band, Foreigner, at the Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center. The ensemble has also received a coveted trophy at the American Classics Madrigal Contest in 2016, performing Renaissance-style a cappella music. Rhapsody has been invited to perform at the Texas State Capitol twice within the last three years in recognition of Howard County Day. Rhapsody believes in giving back to the community by performing special concerts, such as the Big Spring Veteran's Day Concert, Christmas caroling at Comanche Trail Park, and pop concerts at area retirement homes and elementary schools. Rhapsody students have diverse backgrounds, including National Honor Society, band, athletics, theatre, art, fashion and design, church and civic groups, Texas All-State Choir, and more. Rhapsody and the Big Spring Choral Department are under the direction of Mr. Gershom Garcia and Mrs. Beth Spence.

Vox Cor is the new a cappella group from Rudder High School in Bryan, Texas! This tight-knit group of musicians is always looking for ways to push the boundaries in a cappella music. This dynamic group of 14 people features a great blend of classic and modern sounds. Though this is only their second year of competition, they already look forward to many more. The group’s name derives from two Latin words for “voice” and “heart,” and they strive to use both so completely in their music that one can’t tell where the first ends and the second begins.

Encore is fresh on the a cappella scene in Houston, Texas.  Encore is from Alief ISD, in Houston where the group has enjoyed performing pop, jazz and a capella. Last year was their first ICHSA, and the camaraderie and warmth of last year’s competition drove them to head back this year.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Ron Ellis began his a cappella experience when he was chosen for the prestigious St. Petersburg Boys Choir. He went on to perform lead roles in children’s theatre productions, including "Bye, Bye, Birdie," "Camelot," and "Oliver." He has performed all over the country as a trombonist and background vocalist in many groups, and now serves as the assistant director of bands at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Ron is also a music director for the Walt Disney Company, where he directs and choreographs groups throughout the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando. Most recently, he was chosen to orchestrate music for the premiere of Dr. David Brunner's choral pieces at Carnegie Hall, and he currently consults with the Finnish a cappella group, Rajaton.

Wes Davis is in his second year as Head Choral Director at Marcus High School, having been the assistant director for five years. During this time, he founded a female contemporary a cappella group called Fusion. Fusion is very active at Marcus and in the community, performing at school functions, sporting events, community events, and fundraisers for charities in the area. As the group’s director, arranger, and choreographer,  Wes has led Fusion to a top-three finish in ICHSA Southwest Semifinals for the past three years. In 2015, Fusion won its Semifinal and competed at Finals in New York. Wes is a member of the A cappella Education Association (AEA), Women’s A Cappella Association (WACA), Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), Texas Choral Directors Association (TCDA), and the Texas Music Adjudicators Association (TMAA).

Todd Bentzel has been in the music world since the tender age of 7. He has been onstage with various vocal and instrumental groups throughout his high school and college careers. Todd started his college career at Butler University  in Indianapolis in 2009 as a vocal and instrumental education major, and founded The Butler University Glee Club, there. In 2010, he moved to Texas to join the University of North Texas and sang and arranged for The UNT Glee Club for two years, helping to arrange music. In 2012, he was inspired to found and direct UNT's premier male a cappella group, Forte. He organized shows, directed, and arranged music for UNT Forte for two years. In his spare time, he keeps himself busy with local singing groups and playing his upright bass at home.

Colin Adams got his start in contemporary a cappella as a singer in Duke University's Something Borrowed, Something Blue. After serving as the group's general manager, arranger, and producing several albums for them, he was inspired to form Starry Night Studios in 2012. Since then, he's had the opportunity to record and produce records with dozens of college groups across the country. Now based in Houston, Texas, Colin continues to serve as a coach, arranger, producer, and traveling recording engineer. He is excited to be involved with Varsity Vocals this year.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Dr. JJ Villarreal  (Superintendent of Rockwall Schools), Chris Kosterman (RISD Fine Arts Director), Dr. Courtney Gober (Rockwall High Principal),
Rockwall High School Administrators, Teachers, and Staff, Walk the Line parents, Utley Middle School Campus, Rockwall Choir Booster Club and parents, Donald Behne (Utley Middle School Choir Director), Nancy Farrell (Williams Middle School Choir Director), Oscar Padilla (Cain Middle School Choir Director), Rachel Reed, Matt Woodward (MacArthur High School), Sarah Acker (choreographer), The Texas State Echoes  and director Camille Billigue, and the Rockwall Choir private voice instructors: Mary Drayer, Cody Dry, Keeli James, Kathy Stephens, and Renee Wilson
; 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 three placing groups at this event will advance to the ICHSA Southwest Semifinal.

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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