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 SEMIFINAL

 

Marcus High School 
Saturday, March 25, 2017

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

We're talking about this event, and all of our events around the world!

varsityvocals

@varsityvocals

@varsityvocals

Follow us @varsityvocals on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and join the conversation using #ICCA and #ICHSA.

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

 

Madison Avenue is the best of the best at James Madison High School. These 16 fine performers represent their school throughout the city of San Antonio with great pride and extraordinary talent. They have been featured on local newscasts, private parties, and have even had the pleasure of opening for the legendary 80s Rock band, Foreigner, at the Majestic Theatre. In 2016, Madison Avenue won the Margaret Tobin FAME award. Personally chosen by Deke Sharon to open for the Vocalocity tour in San Antonio, Madison Avenue established itself on the Tobin Center stage as one of the most popular high school a cappella groups in San Antonio. In its first year of ICHSA competition, Mad Ave won the right to represent the Southwest in ICHSA Finals competition in New York. They are here for another shot at that amazing opportunity.

Deer Park High School has a rich choral tradition, and among its groups is a swing choir with an a cappella extension, known as Apex. This ensemble consists of students that are involved not only in choir, but band, football, golf, drill team, theatre, and volleyball. They enjoying singing together and are honored to be a part of such a dedicated singing ensemble.

A-side 
is the premier vocal ensemble of A-MCHS. Its retro name refers to old albums, or tapes, which had two sides that could play music, with the most popular songs on the A-side. This 13-member group consists of 11 brilliant, hardworking young men and women (the other two are questionable, to say the least). In their free time, you will find them looking suspiciously at the clock and wondering why it is that they even have free time. The variety of group members is reflected in their music, from the mellow message of showing one’s true colors to the unmistakable sound of a Michael Jackson classic. They’ve a-dded their own twist to the music, but they stand B-side its quality. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as they do!

Air Academy High School sits on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy, and proudly presents Out of the Blue. There are 16 members in the group this year, with 13 seniors and three juniors. This group performs for school events, and community and civic organizations. In 2013, Out of the Blue was runner up at the Mile High Vocal Jam held in Denver, Colo., and in February 2016, Out of the Blue made its first appearance at ICHSA Semifinals. Last May, the group was selected to perform for the Academy School District 20 Retirement Gala. They have received Superior ratings at the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Festival each spring. The group is choreographed by Lilly Britton and Josh Taniguchi and sound personnel are Kai Johnson and Kayden Olson. They are directed by Paula Baack, who has received regional and national recognition for her work with choral ensembles and vocal studies.

The T-Bird Singers 
has been in existence since Mare Hayden took over the choral program in 1993. They perform entirely a cappella music, be it contemporary, pop, jazz, or spirituals. They have performed in New York, Canada, Washington D.C., California, and will make their second performance at Universal Studios in Florida this year. This group consistently earns superior ratings at the UNC jazz festival and CHSAA Jazz and Show Choir festivals. The group is made up of juniors and seniors, plus one sophomore, AJ Webb. They are excited to showcase what they do best...sing!


This is Montrose High School’s first year with a modern a cappella group in its vocal music program. Red Valley Harmony brings a newer style of music to the rural western slopes of Colorado, where the predominant genre is country/folk. The students and staff at MHS have especially enjoyed this group when serenading early morning classes in the stairwell or in the gym when working on choreography. What this group lacks in experience, it makes up in personality, work ethic, musicality, and a bond forged through the discipline of waking up at 7 a.m. for daily rehearsals. Red Valley Harmony is excited to welcome guest choreographer, Kaci Drye. Kaci has been dancing for all of her life, beginning ballet at age 3 and progressing from there into other types of dance. She joined color guard freshmen year, became captain of dance team, and is excited for her first a cappella choreo challenge! The group loves being able to spontaneously share music with their fellow students, the residents local nursing homes, elementary and middle school students, and other community members. They are excited for to share their passion for music with an even more widespread audience through the ICHSA!

In Tone Nation
is a newly formed high school a cappella group from Gila Ridge High School located in Yuma, Ariz. This group contains 20 performers from all grade levels. Interest in this group stems from an eight-year tradition of performing contemporary and classical a cappella pieces. The students in this group are eager to showcase their talent among other nationally recognized high school a cappella programs. They hope you enjoy their original arrangements of popular contemporary songs.

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 was invited to perform twice in the past three years at the Texas State Capitol 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.


GUEST PERFORMERS


Fusion is the female a cappella group at Marcus High School. They consistently place at ICHSA competitions and were fortunate to represent the Southwest region at ICHSA Finals in 2015. These ladies are members of honor societies, band, drill team, student council, theatre, and many campus clubs but their love of music brings them together. They are releasing their first EP, Stand in the Light, this May.

VoiceMale is the male a cappella group at Marcus High School. They are quickly becoming an in demand group for school and community performances. These guys come from many different backgrounds but their drive to have fun and make music pushes them to constantly improve. They hope to compete in ICHSA next year.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Johanna Vinson got her start in a cappella with University of Oregon's Divisi. In addition to being a founding member of one of the first professional female groups in the country, Musae, Jo performed with Delilah on season 3 of "The Sing-Off," with Element on season 4, and is currently the leading lady in the five-member, Boston-based a cappella group, Overboard. She is the voice of the lady bass in the movie, “Pitch Perfect 2,” and is a director at A Cappella Academy, the prestigious summer camp in Los Angeles founded by friends Ben Bram, Rob Dietz, and Avi Kaplan. Jo regularly travels the world as a performer and teacher. While home in Houston, she teaches voice lessons and arranges for many a cappella groups across the country.

Anna Gann 
has been a high school choir director and private voice teacher for 15 years. She has served as head of all music in Big Spring Independent School District in Texas, choir director for the Big Spring High School choir,and head choir director of both East Central High School and Edgewood Fine Arts Academy. She has a degree in vocal performance from Lubbock Christian University and an M.S. in music/choral conducting from UTSA. She was involved in a cappella groups during college, including Sweet Adelines. Anna is a frequent adjudicator for Texas UIL competitions, as well as ICHSA. Professional memberships include TMEA, TCDA, ACDA, and TMAA.

Dr. Tom Burlin teaches graduate music education at the University of at Arlington and is the music director at the World Languages Institute in Fort Worth, Texas.  Tom is a singer, choral conductor, guitarist, and researcher of popular music education and comprehensive musicianship. Tom has studied contemporary a cappella for eight years, working with many of a cappella's top artists, arrangers, and directors from across the county. He was the first person to publish research into contemporary a cappella at the high school level, defining and standardizing the educational benefits of membership for the field of music education.

Matthew S. Woodward 
graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Music Education from Loyola University New Orleans in 2004. He sang tenor in a barbershop quartet called The Nile Manski Trio and won 3rd place at the International Barbershop Collegiate Contest in both 2002 and 2004. He was a proud member of the San Marcos Marcsmen, the 2008 International Barbershop Youth Chorus Grand Champions. Matt recorded the bass and tenor parts for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Region 12 Middle School Men's learning album. He also recorded all the men’s voice parts for the 2010 TMEA Middle School Honor Choir learning album. He directs the MacArthur High School mixed a cappella group, PFC, and led them to ICHSA victory, plus a Best Choreography award, in 2011. He has also had many of his arrangements performed at MacArthur High School.

Dr. Stephen Gusukuma serves on the faculty at Baylor University as a lecturer in choral music and conductor of  the women’s choir and a cappella group, VirtuOSO. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and a Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music from Baylor University. Appointments at the University of Michigan included interim conductor of the University Choir, conductor of the Residential College Singers, assistant conductor of the University Choir, assistant conductor of the Men’s Glee Club, co-conductor of Orpheus Singers, Choral Methods, Vocal Methods, and undergraduate Choral Conducting. Stephen has appeared as conductor and singer with the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club, and on tours across the east coast and south-central U.S. with the Baylor A Cappella Choir. He prepared choruses for the GRAMMY-nominated recording of "Milhaud: Oresteia of Aeschylus," and his work is featured on Ye Shall Have a Song! Celebrating America’s Three Oldest Collegiate Choirs.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank
Wes Davis and Patti Freeman (choir directors), Marcus High School, and
Liz Lambert (theatre tech director)
; 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 the ICHSA 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

varsityvocals