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

 

Illinois State University
Saturday, February 3, 2018

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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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

 

Counterpoint is Loyola University Chicago’s premier competitive co-ed acapella group! They personally arrange and energetically perform a diverse range of music to feature at their concerts, competitions, and gigs around the city! They not only provide a creative musical outlet for members and listeners, but take pride in sharing the music with their city!

EMU Evergreen is Eastern Michigan University's premier a cappella group. In the fall semester of 2015, the group’s founders decided that it was time for Eastern Michigan to be introduced to the amazing world of a cappella, while enjoying half-off apps at Applebee's. They specialize in modern pop songs, but are not afraid to dabble in some classic rock and hip hop. Their current repertoire ranges from "September" by Earth, Wind, Fire to "Untitled 06" by Kendrick Lamar. All of their arrangements are unique and arranged by current and past group members. The singers of EMU Evergreen love making music while bringing joy to their listeners. While many members are music majors, the group is widely diverse, with education majors, literature majors, and more. They all come together to make beautiful and passionate music, and can’t wait to share that with the world. Through a cappella, these friends have become family, and they are so excited for their first ICCA.

Through innovative musical arrangements and choreography, The Meladies, Marquette University’s premier all-female a cappella group, has been captivating audiences since its foundation in 2012. Together, they form a sisterhood of passionate women who strive to engage their audiences with high-energy performances. From their early days performing in stairwells and lecture halls on Marquette's campus, the group has grown into one of Milwaukee's principal vocal ensembles and has performed for audiences across the Midwest. In only a few short years, The Meladies have taken great strides and do not intend to slow down.

No Comment is a co-ed a cappella group from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This high-energy group has a passion for a cappella, but more importantly, Olive Garden. In 2015, the group was one of five in the nation to be featured on “Sing It On,” a reality docu-series from executive producer John Legend. You can check them out on Netflix! NoCo has no intention of slowing down, with new albums, videos, and music continuously in the works. With their performance tonight, No Comment is sure to leave you speechless.

Formed in 1993 as small co-ed jazz group, No Strings Attached has grown into a fully fledged modern vocal ensemble, performing both jazz and pop music from all decades. Since its genesis, No Strings has recorded several albums, toured several cities, and taken 2nd place in ICCA Finals. They take pride in their musicianship, versatile sets, and ability to inspire their listeners to dance and sing along. 

The Illinois Rip Chords is an all-female a cappella group established in 1992 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with five original members. Over the years, The Rip Chords have continued to grow and now have a record-high 18 women in the group. They began competing at ICCA in 2002 and have moved on to Semifinals multiple times, most recently in 2016 when they received 1st place at their Quarterfinal. This group of women bonds not only over their love of music, but also over performing, friendship, and fun! With genres including everything from classic oldies to current pop songs, this versatile group always strives to create powerful music and have a good time. The Rip Chords couldn’t be happier to be back at ICCA this year to perform, enjoy the other groups, and above all, have an unforgettable experience.

Secondary Dominance is Illinois State University's premier women's a cappella ensemble. Established in 2004, the girls have been delighting audiences with their instrument-free performances on campus and around the Bloomington-Normal community ever since. They perform a range of music, from pop to rock to Broadway, and arrange the majority of it themselves. They like long walks on the beach, beatboxing to the “Spider-Man” theme song, and chicken-nugget-eating stories. 

Sonata Problem was the first a cappella group at North Central College in Illinois, and the group is excited for its second year competing in ICCA! They learned so much from entering the competition scene last year and can’t wait for all the fun and excitement this year will bring. From all the ups, downs, MIGRAINES, and WARS this group has experienced, their bond as a family has kept them strong and makes them who they are. Don’t be mistaken, however: in terms of hard work and commitment, this group is no LIGHTWEIGHT. They’re willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to keep developing their sound, their identity, and their bond with one another. ICCA round two? That’s So-Nata Problem!

Touch of Class is Illinois Wesleyan University's premier all-female a cappella group. Since 2004, Touch of Class has delighted audiences at a variety of campus events, concerts, and local gigs within the communities of Bloomington and Normal, Ill. This all-female ensemble is an auditioned group with 12 to 18 members, spanning a range of different ages and majors. The members of Touch of Class take pride in representing female empowerment at IWU and in the community. Touch of Class a cappella features a whole lot of talent, some good ol' harmony, and just a touch of class!

Hailing from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, The Xtension Chords is composed of 13 strapping young gentlemen.  For the past 25 years, the group has provided audiences with tight harmonies, smooth choreography, and last, but not least, good looks. In addition to live performances, The Xtension Chords have released seven studio albums, dating back to the early 1990s.  Their most recent album, Wired Up, was released in spring 2014 and is available for purchase on iTunes and Spotify. Their performance will provide you with a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the men singing onstage.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Selame Scarlett hails from Okemos, Mich. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, she was part of Capital Green A Cappella, and served as music director, arranger and vocal percussionist. Currently, she is an ICHSA producer, Varsity Vocals judge, and clinician for high school and collegiate groups in the Midwest. She serves as a percussionist and vocalist for the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA)-winning, all-female sextet, Lady Jaye, and the all-female gospel powerhouse group, Traces, which was featured on Season 5 of NBC's “The Sing-Off.” In the summertime, Selame is an instructor and counselor at A Cappella Academy, a Los Angeles-based vocal camp for young adults (ages 13 to 17). Selame has been fortunate enough to record alongside groups such as Naturally 7, The Boxettes, Pentatonix, Duwende, and Traces of Blue (formerly Afro-Blue)! She has led percussion workshops and masterclasses, both on her own and with her beatboxing colleagues. 

Antonio Rodriguez graduated in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in music from Washington University in St. Louis, where he sang with The Amateurs for four years. He also served as arranger and music director of the group. He spent the next five years performing as a stage actor in St. Louis before gaining his union card and moving to Chicago in 2014. Favorite past musical credits include “The Who’s Tommy” (Tommy Walker), “Urinetown” (Bobby Strong), and “Altar Boyz” (Matthew). He was a member of the St. Louis Theatre Circle Award-winning ensemble of the a cappella musical “All is Calm” for three years, and is a four-time nominee and two-time Theatre Circle Award winner for his individual acting work in both musicals and straight plays. In addition to performing in full-length stage works, he has conceived and performed two solo cabarets in both St. Louis and Chicago. Antonio is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Edric Mitchell, a 2014 and 2016 graduate from Ball State University, studied musical theatre and executive development for public services. During his time at Ball State, he got his start in a cappella with the all-male group, Charlie's Angels. He quickly became a founding member of the all-male a cappella group, Note to Self, with whom he spent four years as a member, coordinator, and music director. In addition, Edric was a founding member and music director of Sedoctave, and founder of the Association of Collegiate A Cappella (ACA) at Ball State. ACA is an umbrella organization that unites all collegiate a cappella groups on the BSU Campus, and hopes to eventually expand to other college campuses. When Edric was a competitor in the ICCA, he received two Outstanding Arrangement awards for "Can You Stand The Rain" and "Recovery Stitches," as well as an Outstanding Soloist award with Walter Edwards for "Smash Your Apology." He is currently the vocal music director at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, Ind.

Katherine Bodor attended Washington University in St. Louis and graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Applied Science and a second major in music. She was classically trained in piano from the age of three, played percussion and guitar for years, and has sung in concert and chamber choirs since high school.Throughout undergrad, she served as the music director and primary arranger for her co-ed a cappella group, After Dark, while also composing award-winning pieces for choirs and instrumental ensembles, many of which received premieres within the last year. Katherine currently interns and contracts with The Vocal Company and began attending graduate school for composition this past fall. 

Andrew M. Wallace is an avid arranger and composer and has explored numerous genres of music, from traditional choral music to contemporary a cappella, for over 15 years. After over 10 years of teaching music education on the North Shore suburbs of Illinois, Andrew is now the Director of Accounts for a marketing and advertising firm in the fitness and endurance industry. He received his Bachelor and Master of Music Education from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and serves as the Artist in Residence for the amazing Youth Choral Theatre of Wilmette, crafting original compositions and arrangements for them to premiere. Andrew has been the guest conductor for several music festivals, notably the 2013 Illinois Music Educators Association District VII Junior High Music Festival. Andrew also performs, directs, and arranges for a professional cabaret group in Chicago, The Chicago Red Line.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank The Illinois State University Music Department, the staff of the ISU Center for the Arts, Nick Benson, The ISU Acafellaz, and Joseph Aquino; 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