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 MIDWEST QUARTERFINAL

 

Washington University
Saturday, February 3, 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

 

After Dark, Washington University in St. Louis's best-dressed a cappella group, is thrilled to perform in ICCA this year. Since its birth in 2001, this co-ed family has been performing, achieving, and looking good in their signature black and white style. After Dark specializes in singing music at the “fringe of pop,” covering artists such as Sara Bareilles, The Police, Delta Rae, and Florence and the Machine. They have released four full-length studio albums and an EP, sporting out-of-this-world titles such as Eclipse, 'til Dawn, and Solstice. Stay tuned for their fifth full-length album, Dark Matter, coming soon to Spotify and iTunes. While singing for Washington University’s Chancellor is always a treat, After Dark prides itself in getting off campus and performing throughout the greater St. Louis area. Favorite past gigs include singing with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, traveling to Disney World, and most recently, getting their groove on at the St. Louis Zoo. They may or may not have been invited to crash a couple of local weddings, too. When not in the rehearsal room, you can usually find After Dark road tripping, singing with the lights out, and eating their weight in Oreo desserts.

“Astha” means faith in Hindi. Astha A Cappella is Saint Louis University’s premier co-ed fusion a cappella group. Established in 2006, the group was started by six students who came together to sing Indian fusion music, hang out, and jam. They had faith (astha) in music and Astha A Cappella was born. Astha has grown from jam sessions to complex compositions, and includes singers from various backgrounds, all with an interest in singing a mixture of melodies that combines Western and Eastern musical influences.

It was the year 2000. Camera fades in. It’s an early, still night at Saint Louis University. Two students, a boy and a girl, sit by the clock tower making small talk, giggling at even the most pitiful jokes. The cold air is warmed by the red in their cheeks. Mid-sentence, one of the girl’s stories gets cut short by a sound. A melody. A haunting, piercing note. Both tilt their ears to catch the tune as it grows. Swells of melodious sorrow, waves of unkempt joy wash over them, more intensely than the lamp under which they sit. Minutes pass, but it seems as if they share hours together. At last, the notesmiths reveal themselves. 12 of them - statues - stride into place around the couple, showering them with beautiful chords and piquing dissonance, until the sun rises. It was the year 2000 when The Bare Naked Statues, SLU’s premier all-male a cappella group, first revealed itself, and every day since has been a journey. Performing songs by anyone from Frank Sinatra to Twenty One Pilots, Beyoncé to Franz Biebl, The Statues have made a name for themselves in the Midwest and beyond. In 2014, they traveled to New York to compete at ICCA Finals, and just last year they traveled to Indiana for ICCA Semifinals. They revel in pleasing a crowd, shattering barriers, and setting new standards for the art form. So, take a seat, hold onto it tightly, and experience The Bare Naked Statues!

Beyond All Reason (BAR) is Saint Louis University's first and only all-female a cappella group. Founded in 2002, Beyond All Reason started with 10 singers and has since grown into a harmonious group of 15 ladies. BAR arranges and performs a wide array of music that keeps audiences hooked. From Beyoncé to The Beatles, they perform contemporary favorites from all genres. On campus, they host two concerts per year and sing for various student-organization-sponsored events. They have also found a place in the St. Louis community singing for a variety of local businesses, fundraisers, holiday events, and sports events. With their powerful altos and sweet sopranos, BAR is just...Beyond All Reason!

Decadence is a co-ed a cappella group founded at Saint Louis University in 2010. The name Decadence stems from two vital parts of the group's existence: deca because they were founded by 10 original singers, and cadence, a musical term that describes the progression of two chords leading to closure within a musical composition. They sing everything from top 40 hits to jazz to indie music! The personal connections within this group make it special and this bond is what truly makes Decadence Decadence.

Dissonance is one of three a cappella groups at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., and the only mixed a cappella group on campus. They have only been on the scene since September of 2016, and currently include 18 members who all enjoy short walks to Starbucks (the real one, not the one inside Target)! Dissonance is very excited to perform in its first ICCA alongside all of the amazing groups here tonight. As a group, they decided to host an a cappella camp at their school during the summer for high school students interested in the contemporary a cappella world. Dissonance is excited to be running this three-day camp, and would love to have members of the a cappella community contact them if they are interested. Be prepared to be born again with this group's intense harmonies. One might even say 'dissonances,’ because they sure do live up to their name! Dissonance asks that you not be afraid to show your appreciation for their set by clapping, shouting, maybe even hooting and hollering! Please give a warm welcome to Dissonance!

Harmon-E is making a name for itself as Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's first established a cappella ensemble. After taking nearly two years to get the organization on its feet, Harmon-E hit the ground running in January 2017. Due to past unsuccessful a cappella campaigns, the officers jokingly named their first semester working together as a "trial by fire." With no budget, experience, and copious amounts of patience from the founding members, Harmon-E managed to put together its first showcase in April 2017 and has since performed in SIUE's Abbott Auditorium, division one sporting events, and at the St. Louis Children's Hospital. They hope to continue gaining support on campus and throughout their community. Harmon-E’s mission is simple: to create music that enriches the lives of those who listen, as well as the lives of the members themselves. The 18 students that comprise this group are currently pursuing 16 different majors. This diversity allows for different perspectives in the process of learning, interpreting, and performing each piece. Most importantly, they find that perpetually experiencing the power of music keeps them humble. A timid biology major who only ever sings in the shower can become the soloist in a wall of sound that can unite, inspire, heal, ignite passion, and change. But don’t take their word for it; let the music speak for itself and ask yourself what the music you hear tonight sparks in you.

Since 2002, Minor Detail has been Truman State University's only all-female a cappella group. Unlike the name might suggest, there's nothing "minor" about the women of MD. With members skilled in multiple areas, from arranging to soloing to vocal percussion, Minor Detail has major talent!

The Sensasians is WashU’s premier Asian-interest a cappella group, but seriously, you don’t have to be Asian to join! They specialize in fresh, bilingual mashups that showcase a passion for music from around the world. In the spring of 2016, they released their debut EP, The New Kids on the Wok, which you can check out on iTunes or Spotify.

Six Eight Christian A Cappella is Saint Louis University's premier co-ed, inclusive Christian/spiritual a cappella group. They are committed to performing music from a wide variety of genres grounded in the Christian perspective for entertainment, the greater glory of God, and the service of the SLU community. They aim to be a strong Christian witness among SLU's a cappella groups and campus worship communities, while also being a performance group who enjoys their time onstage and bonds together as a tight-knit musical family. Their threefold mission - ministry, worship, and entertainment - guides their selection of repertoire and spirit of performance. As an inclusive Christian community, they seek to maintain an atmosphere of respect, creativity, and collaboration. Their members come from a variety of faith backgrounds, and they pride themselves in being a good choir of singers, as well as a group of close friends, which greatly informs their musical harmony and love of performing.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

In his freshman year at NIU, Trent Snyder founded The NIU Huskie Hunks, and within five years, cultivated an a cappella community that is still growing today. In 2015 and 2016, he led The Hunks to Semifinals, and even snagged an Outstanding Choreography award in 2015. While The Hunks take up most of his time, Trent also choreographs, arranges, and teaches his former a cappella groups from Glenbrook South High School. He graduated with a degree in music business and plans to stay connected with the a cappella art form and community.

Braden Foreman holds a bachelor's degree in music - vocal performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree in student affairs administration with a concentration in teaching and learning from Michigan State University. At UNL, Braden competed in numerous ICCA competitions with The Bathtub Dogs and has advanced to Semifinals and won awards numerous times with the group. He also served as The Bathtub Dogs' president, business manager, and secretary during his tenure with the group. Braden has performed in musicals and operas, won regional awards in opera competitions, and was student director for the UNL show choir, Big Red Singers. Currently, Braden works at the University of Kansas as a Residence Life Complex Director where he oversees the creative arts and inclusion community, which uses artistic means to teach creativity, presentation, discussion, and reflection. Braden is also in charge of the residential curriculum, which promotes learning for self-efficacy as part of the residential experience. 

Daniel Fister is a doctoral candidate at Washington University in St. Louis studying musicology. He earned his undergraduate degree in vocal performance and music history at Chapman University, and his master’s degree in music history at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. He has presented and written on collegiate a cappella, musical theatre, and other American music. Before his life as an academic, Daniel directed, sang, and arranged for Wilsonville High School’s Soul’d Out, leading them to the 2010 ICHSA Finals, and then for Chapman University’s SoundCheck, with whom he competed regularly in ICCA and directed  the production of their debut album, Everything (2012). He remains involved in a cappella as a judge and arranger.


SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank 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 Midwest 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