THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF COLLEGIATE

A CAPPELLA

DEAR FRIENDS,

 

Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 22nd 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 tournaments have grown from a handful of events to the massive showcase they are today, featuring more than 600 groups and 8,500 singers at 85 events across North America and the United Kingdom.

Our original tournament inspired the hit movie Pitch Perfect, based on the nonfiction book documenting the true story of rival groups competing against each other in our very own ICCA. The franchise released its third film this past December and remains the highest-grossing musical series of all time.

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 were thrilled to launch the International Championship of A Cappella Open last summer. “The Open” (#AcaOpen) is an all-access a cappella tournament that brings together singers of all ages, regardless of student status, to compete on an international stage for a chance at $25,000. In its very first season, The Open featured 70 groups from around the world and culminated in a sold-out Finals at New York City's Carnegie Hall -- and we expect even bigger things this summer, as our second season kicks off.

We hope that over the years, 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, right? 

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 22 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2018 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 GREAT LAKES QUARTERFINAL

 

Grand Ledge High School
Saturday, February 24, 2018

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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), the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA), and the International Championship of A Cappella Open (The Open). 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 3 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 13th 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.

The Open tournament took place for the first time in summer 2017 and featured 70 groups competing in six US  semifinals, an international semifinal, and a wild card round. The winners of those events advanced to The Open Finals at Carnegie Hall, where they competed against our reigning ICCA and ICHSA champions for $25,000. The second season of The Open will take place starting this summer and will culminate at Carnegie Hall on September 22.

 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.

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

 

Capital Green is the oldest, hottest, most co-ed a cappella group this side of Grand River. With 15 members and no music majors, Capital Green still manages to create one hell of a sound. This tight-knit group of besties tends to speak in their own unique language, and you can always count on them to bring the party wherever they go.

Central Harmony rounds out the a cappella scene at Central Michigan University as the premier co-ed a cappella group, featuring some of CMU’s most talented vocalists. Formed in the fall of 2005, Central Harmony blends the best male and female voices in original arrangements. Bringing onstage enthusiasm and musical finesse, the men and women of Central Harmony captivate audiences with tight harmonies and impressive vocal percussion. Performing a blend of modern hip-hop, pop, rock and alternative, Central Harmony has something for everyone. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the sweet sounds surrounding you, as Central Harmony drops beats and weaves a harmonious storybook of song, proving to everyone within earshot that they aren’t your usual songbirds.

Euphoria is a collegiate a cappella group of 14 members, and they’re ready to show the world who they are and what they can do. Euphoria was founded in 2006 at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich. They were the first co-ed a cappella group to exist on campus. Last year, they made a return to the ICCA stage after taking a year off with a different outlook and new goals, and ended up taking 1st place at their Quarterfinal in Grand Ledge, Mich., advancing to Semifinals in Chicago. The group auditions in the first few weeks of the school year and pulls students from a vast array of backgrounds and areas of study. Majors in engineering, math, political science, music, education, and business all come together in Euphoria to do what they love. They perform in the Grand Rapids area and at Grand Valley throughout the semester, in addition to various events on and off campus. While the names and faces of the group members may change over the years, their goals remain the same: for them to sing, you to listen, and everyone to experience the Euphoria that comes from their music.

Ladies First is Michigan State University’s only all-female a cappella group. Founded in 1985, this lively group of women loves to perform at gigs all around the community and share their passion for music. Over the years, Ladies First has become a rising presence across the a cappella world, through participating in festival showcases, winning awards, and performing across the country. Their unique blend and empowering presence continues to captivate audiences everywhere. When they’re not busy performing, they are hard at work recording. In fact, just this year they released their latest EP, Run this Show. Since its release, it has been nominated for Best Collegiate Female Song in the 2017 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) and selected to be featured on the 2017 Voices Only album. With such an action-packed year, they are excited to see what the future holds!

Midnight Snack is Grand Valley State University's only all-female a cappella group. This group focuses their sets on the empowerment of women all over the world. They have participated in ICCA for the past two years and are excited to have another chance to perform again! The group has expanded to 19 members this year, and they are excited to keep working on the new sound they have acquired from their  huge addition of new singers!

The MSU Accafellas is the all-male premier a cappella group from Michigan State University. Every week, they come together and work hard to perfect their tight knit harmonies. Established in 1996, they continue to create long lasting bonds and perform beautiful music. From rehearsals in the classroom to nationwide competitions, here are The Accafellas!

No Strings Attached is the longest running co-ed a cappella group on Western Michigan University’s campus. They pride themselves on their creativity, uniqueness, and ability to be talented and goofy at the same time. Most of No Strings’ arrangements are composed by a current group member or by alumni. Group members old and new are bonded together through a shared sense of family and enjoyment of performing for the community. The group celebrates each member’s individual talent and makes sure that they have as much fun as possible in competitions. No Strings Attached performs a wide range of songs, but mostly those in the pop and alternative genres, with the occasional ballad or rock arrangement. No Strings Attached is one of the few groups on campus that participates in competitions yearly. They have proudly represented Western Michigan University at ICCA competitions for the past two years and participated in Albion’s sing-off competition last year. In the spring of 2016, No Strings Attached toured around Traverse City and performed for several high schools with The MSU Accafellas. The following year, No Strings performed at the campus library for students during art week, at Western’s Relay for Life walk for Cancer, and opened for Michigan State University’s Spartan Dischords. Overall, Western Michigan’s No Strings Attached A Cappella is a high-energy group that always leaves crowds smiling, and with a lasting impression that their group is fun, talented, silly, and a family.

On the Rox is the only all-female a cappella group at Central Michigan University. These women epitomize the essence of female power and soul in a large 18-person group. With a love of performing, the women of On the Rox share one common goal: to leave the audience full of hope and awe.

Founded in the fall of 2008, State of Fifths is a 15-person co-ed a cappella group from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. They are known for their emotionally driven performances, and they generally spend free time doing gigs, circle singing, and having spontaneous dance parties. While the singers of State of Fifths strive to push their own limits and become better musicians, they're also a close-knit family that loves to sing and give their all in every performance

Vocaholics is a co-ed a cappella group at Western Michigan University, formed in the fall of 2013 by WMU students. They perform in on-campus concerts, as well as in community and traveling performances. Their music encompasses all styles and genres, focusing on challenging arrangements. Aside from their music, they are a family of unique individuals, who support one another and their community in all their endeavors!


GUEST PERFORMER


Macomb Expressions from Macomb Community College is a long-established elite ensemble on campus, but it is in its first year as an a cappella pops group. In years past, the group has performed a variety of jazz music, either accompanied or a cappella. The group is made up of students of the music program at the community college. Members are selected through auditions and meet together as an extracurricular performing ensemble.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Joshua S. Duchan, Ph.D. is an ethnomusicologist who studies American popular music and culture, and has been involved in the a cappella world for more than a decade. During college, he sang with The University of Pennsylvania Counterparts, and during graduate school, he sang with the University of Michigan’s Amazin' Blue, serving twice as their music director and primary arranger. His arrangements have been nominated for two CARAs and have appeared on BOCA twice. Today, Joshua is the assistant professor of music at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he teaches courses in music history, world music, and ethnomusicology. His articles on a cappella have been published with the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA), as well as in several academic journals. His book, “Powerful Voices: The Musical and Social World of Collegiate A Cappella,” was the first book-length scholarly work to consider collegiate a cappella, exploring its arranging, rehearsal, performance, and recording practices. Joshua’s more current research focuses on the music of American singer-songwriter, Billy Joel. His book, “Billy Joel: America’s Piano Man,” will be published in 2017, and features interviews he conducted with Joel himself. Outside of teaching, Joshua remains active in the national a cappella scene as an adjudicator, arranger, clinician, and producer. He has been adjudicating at ICCA events since 2004.

Laura Quinn has been a member, arranger, and managing director of Two Weeks Notice, a semi-professional (CAL) group in the metro Detroit area since 2007. In 2014, she attended a workshop with Tony-winning composer Jason Robert Brown, and later directed his show, "Songs For A New World" in Birmingham, Mich. Laura brings a unique perspective to the judging process with an extensive background in vocal music, musical theater, piano, ukulele, and percussion. She met her tap-dancing husband in 2000 while singing karaoke, and today they have one daughter, one dog, one cat, and a ferret. Laura works in advertising by day for MRM//McCann and spends her evenings as a dance mom, traveling to regional and national dance competitions throughout the year. 

Tyler Knowles began playing instruments at an early age, but didn't discover his voice as an instrument until he fell in love with a performance featuring UW-Madison's premier men's a cappella group, The MadHatters. He auditioned for the group, and learned he had a knack for singing really, really low. Tyler sang with The MadHatters from 2002-2005, competing in and hosting ICCA during that time. After college, he sang professionally in the a cappella quartet, The Traveling Sailsmen, on the Celebrity Infinity cruise ship, cruising from Alaska down to the Horn of South America and numerous ports in between.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Timothy Daniel and Grand Ledge High School, Joseph Aquino, Andrea and Andrew Poole, Selame Scarlett, Christopher Brody, and Bryan Pennington; 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 Jacobs
The Open Director
 ICCA West Producer

Andrew Poole
 Director of Digital Media

Erica Tackett
 Director of Marketing & Social Strategy

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Emily Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Sara Yood
 ICCA & ICHSA Finals Producer
 ICHSA Northeast Producer

Courtney Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West Producer

Henry Harrod
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Elise Hackl
 ICHSA Midwest Producer

Riley McMahon
 ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
 ICHSA South & Southwest Producer

Mark Chen
ICHSA Southwest Co-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 two placing groups advance to ICCA Great Lakes Semifinals.

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

varsityvocals

THE OPEN

 

The International Championship
of A Cappella Open

ARE YOU READY?

Carnegie Hall
 Saturday, September 22, 2018