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 NORTHEAST QUARTERFINAL

 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
Sunday, February 18, 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

 

Acappellics Anonymous is always here to bring the party with fun and original arrangements, addictive energy, and exciting personalities to throw into the mix. A competitive group, AA made it to ICCA Semifinals in 2014 and 2015, and they continue working as a family to build strong sounds while also building strong bonds. AA has competed in local competitions and performed at various invitationals, networking with other colleges and groups in greater Boston. AA's music ranges from old favorites to current pop, and their mascot is a one-eyed skeleton with a purple bowtie named Mr. Boogie, who is always the life of the party. No, seriously.

Founded in 1996, The BosTones bring a new dimension of soul, sweetness, and sass to the a cappella scene. They make sure to sweat the small details to deliver stellar and unique renditions of their favorite music, from Stevie Wonder to Queen Beyonce. While they already have some accolades to show for their musical prowess, such as making it to 2016 ICCA Finals and winning ICCA Semifinals, you can bet that they’re just getting started.

The Clark University Clark Bars from Worcester, Mass. is the oldest group on campus. They sing a mixture of things, including pieces that have a soloist and re-arrangements or mashups of popular songs that they sing ensemble-style. They do a lot of work in the local area, singing carols, helping at functions around campus, and volunteering to help local high school group get excited about singing. They have been in past ICCA Quarterfinals and are very excited to come back after a few years’ hiatus. They bring together a wonderful mix of solo styles, backgrounds, and general music sense, which makes them unique. They try and keep great energy onstage, whether its for an up-tempo number or a ballad, and they love meeting and making lasting connections with fans and other singers alike.

Distilled Harmony is a group of fun-loving, dedicated, and passionate students taking on the world of collegiate a cappella one step at a time. Competitively, Distilled Harmony has placed 2nd in the 2016 ICCA Northeast Semifinal, and then placed 2nd in the Wild Card round that year. More recently, the group won 1st place at its 2017 Northeast Quarterfinal, and 4th place at the 2017 Northeast Semifinals. They love to have fun when they perform, and they love to share their love for music with the rest of the community!

Founded in 2010, For Good Measure is Emmanuel College's premier female a cappella group. They strive to break the boundaries of all-female a cappella with their wide range of voices and beautiful power. They have worked hard to commemorate their achievements thus far, including being crowned champions of their 2014 ICCA Quarterfinal, making their very first album, Haven (now on iTunes, Spotify, and Loudr!), and releasing their newest album, Luminance (available on Spotify), this past summer. For Good Measure is a family of passionate and motivated singers, forming a soulful oasis of music when they perform together.

Off the Clock is Bentley University's best-looking a cappella group. They are also the only a cappella group on campus. Make of that what you will. They were officially recognized in 2010, thanks to a group of ambitious students looking for a creative outlet at a business school. Off the Clock has quickly made a name for itself in the a cappella world and around Bentley's campus. Often found supporting and performing at Bentley Falcons sporting events and at events hosted by other clubs and organizations, Off the Clock believes that any occasion is better with a little music, and they are glad to be the ones bringing it. OTC also performs in and outside of the greater Boston community, often with high schools and other colleges. This will be their second time competing in the ICCA, following their debut last season. They are so excited to show Varsity Vocals what they’re got, and hope to grow and move on in the competition! 

The Simmons Sirens, from Simmons College in Boston, Mass., is the one and only a cappella group at Simmons College. Founded in 1989, they sing and perform popular songs and events a cappella-style! They have two concerts a year, compete in national competitions, and make appearances at various functions around the college and at outside venues. The Sirens are all about creating music that makes you feel good! As an a cappella group in the great city of Boston, they love to joke about the origin of their name. People often say they get their name because of the wailing of the "Sirens" up and down Brookline Ave! They are very grateful to have this opportunity and hope everyone has as much fun as they do throughout this competition!

Sons of Pitches is the only all-male acapella group at College of the Holy Cross. Founded in 2009, the group has been growing in size and ability ever since. With a love for performing and having fun, The Sons are a bunch of guys being dudes who spend a lot of time singing.

Founded in 2008, The UniSons is Northeastern University's only all-male a cappella group. They strive to maintain a musical identity distinct from the standard all-male a cappella schtick, and seek to instill emotions and tell a story with their music. The UniSons have performed at ICCA Semifinals in both 2014 and 2016, and have received awards for Outstanding Arrangement and Outstanding Vocal Percussion. Additionally, in 2015 The UniSons competed and placed in the Boston Sings (BOSS) Festival. Most recently, they performed at the annual Best of the Northeast Region Showcase and sang the national anthem at Fenway Park.

Under Construction is Harvard's premier Christian a cappella group. Since 1982, the group’s goal and vision has been to further experience God’s love, transformation, and forgiveness, and share their experiences and God’s message with the Harvard campus and beyond, all through the medium of a cappella music. They work to musically challenge themselves and the audience for the sole purpose of conveying their message of the gospel. They hope their storytelling ability and emotive performances can touch people and help them experience God's grace in a wonderful way.


TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Gregory Ruffer is president and CEO of the Boston Center for the Arts. He has previously served as the president and CEO of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, a nationally-recognized nonprofit community school of music based in Milwaukee. Previous positions have included Music Department Chair of Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center for the Arts in Tampa, Director of Choral Activities and Applied Voice at the College of Central Florida, and founder of The Orlando Chorale and The Orlando Chamber Singers in Orlando, Fla. Additionally, he served as chorus master for Opera Tampa, music director for Orlando Ballet and Conductor of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. As a conductor Gregory has appeared on stages across the U.S. and Europe. He is a voting member for the Grammy Awards with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, following his part in the recording, "Of Rage and Remem’brance," with the National Symphony Orchestra, the 1996 Grammy winner for Best Classical Recording. He holds B.M. and M.M. degrees in music education from Bowling Green State University and has completed the coursework for the Ed.D. in college music teaching (ABD) from Columbia University Teachers College. 

Allie Spurling has been involved with a cappella since 1994. At James Madison University, Allie started the school's first co-ed a cappella group, The JMU Overtones. The group appeared on BOCA in 1998. After graduating, Allie started The Flint Hill Major Minors, a co-ed high school group in Fairfax, Va., and directed them from 2001-2005. The group appeared on BOHSA for multiple years. When Allie returned to her New England roots, she co-directed an all-female group at the Wheeler School for three years, and directed and advised a co-ed group at the Moses Brown School for three years. In addition, Allie runs workshops and arranges for high school and college groups up and down the East Coast and mentors high school groups through the process of recording an album.

Originally from North Reading, Mass., Dave Grossman has been active in the a cappella community since high school, most recently serving as music director for Ithacappella, Ithaca College's all-male a cappella group, and producing their most recent album, Off The Hook. Graduating from IC in 2011 with a Bachelor of Music in vocal music education, Dave now works as choral director at Plymouth North High School, where he directs the school's chorus and a cappella group. He remains active in the Massachusetts a cappella scene, coaching groups of various levels and helping organize the N.E. Voices Festival.

Dithu Rajaraman is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. He first learned about the wonders of a cappella by surfing YouTube the summer before college, and was hooked by the time he began his freshman year.. Dithu competed in the ICCA with The Washington University Stereotypes as both a singer and music director. They got closer and closer to the esteemed Finals round each year and finally reached their goal in 2011, Dithu’s senior year! The Stereotypes ultimately placed 4th, and Dithu shared the Outstanding Arrangement award for Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out for a Hero." He is excited to judge this wonderful competition, and for the opportunity to enjoy some good, old-fashioned, competitive a cappella.

Eric Chung is an award-winning veteran of collegiate and professional a cappella. He has been singing, arranging, and writing since 2013 with Similar Jones, a seven-member Boston-based a cappella band that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. From 2008 to 2013, Eric was the primary director, arranger, and songwriter for the Portland-based pop/rock vocal band, Strangers in Harmony. Under his leadership, The Strangers won the 2011 “Portland’s Got Talent” competition, was runner-up in the Pacific Northwest Regional Harmony Sweepstakes, earned multiple A Cappella Community Award nominations, and delighted audiences on streets and stages all over the Pacific Northwest. Those following the Boston a cappella scene may remember Eric as the founder and director of the mixed vocal band, Downtown Crossing (now called Immutable and still going strong), with whom he performed in the mid-2000s. Previous a cappella projects include award-winning New York pop/jazz group Stay Tuned, The Gross Prophets at the University of Chicago, and The Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones. Eric has also earned national recognition for his solo a cappella work, winning the nationwide 2008 A Cappella Originals songwriting contest and receiving multiple nominations in the annual A Cappella Community Awards for Best Solo A Cappella Performer. More recently he was recognized in the 2016 Independent Music Awards with a nomination in the Best A Cappella Song category. His 2011 EP, It Was You All Along, was one of the very first solo a cappella albums consisting entirely of original music, and is available for download on iTunes and Amazon. Eric’s arrangements and original compositions continue to be performed by many a cappella ensembles across the country, and he has enjoyed serving as a judge for the ICCA and ICHSA competitions since 2005.

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 Northeast 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