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 SEMIFINAL

 

Boston Symphony Hall 
Sunday, March 4, 2018

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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

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Follow us @varsityvocals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, 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), 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

 

Upper Structure is an award-winning co-ed a cappella group from Berklee College of Music. Founded in 2015, Upper Structure is taking the a cappella community by storm, most recently placing 2nd in the Northeast ICCA Semifinal, and again in the Wild Card round! Based in Boston, Upper Structure strives to bring a modern and edgy take on music to the a cappella community. With members from around the world, Upper Structure creates a sound that is innovative, refreshing, emotional, and fun.

In 1980, two Harvard-Radcliffe students, Simin Yazdgerdi and Suzanne Goldsmith, transformed a loosely organized singing group known as the Harvard Squares into Harvard’s first full-fledged mixed a cappella ensemble, The Harvard Opportunes. Over the years, they’ve won widespread acclaim for their intricate harmonies and bold stage presence. Though they are all seasoned musicians, their interests span Harvard's vast curriculum and they participate in countless clubs, athletics, publications, service programs, and other performance groups. As Harvard's oldest co-ed a cappella group, The Opportunes strive not only to produce consistently high-quality live and recorded music, but also to engage their dedicated network of supporters of family, friends, fans, and alumni, and to do business in a way that reflects the group's mission to build a sustainable organization. They operate on core principles that emphasize expanding the reach of their music to new audiences at both the local and national levels, as well as maintaining an environment that is both professional and lighthearted.

Founded in 1999, The LowKeys is one of Harvard's award-winning, premier contemporary co-ed a cappella groups. The LowKeys perform sold-out shows twice a year in Harvard's historic Sanders Theatre, sing at venues in the greater Boston area and New York, and embark on world tours. The LowKeys is the only a cappella group affiliated with Harvard's Public Service Network, and they are preparing for a service trip to China this coming March. Service is deeply ingrained in the organization's founding values and allows The LowKeys to share their love of music with others. Performing frequently at local schools and nonprofit charity events, The LowKeys recognize the importance of art and music as mechanisms of change and growth. All music performed by The LowKeys is arranged by current members of the group and reflects the group's eclectic tastes, ranging from classic rock and hip hop to top 40, R&B, jazz, and everything in between. Group members hail from all around the globe and bring diverse academic backgrounds, but they are united by a shared dedication to the group and love for one another. Today's performance is the product of a journey towards self-love, as members explore what it means to learn how to truly love themselves, resist conformity, and embrace the parts of their identities that they had felt pressured to conceal or hide away.

The CharlieChords is an all-male a cappella group based out of Berklee College of Music in Boston. With the goal of putting a unique spin on a cappella, they select diverse styles of music and create all of their own arrangements. After winning their ICCA Quarterfinal in 2015 and making it all the way to the Wild Card round, this year they're looking to go all the way to New York. With a set composed entirely of songs by female artists, fun choreography, and the perfect blend of excitement and emotion, The CharlieChords are determined to knock your socks off! Follow them on Facebook and buy their EP!

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.

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!

The NYU Mixtapes take pride in their diverse approach to creating music. Coming from a campus that merges boundless musical perspectives, they strive for a sound that fuses their unique backgrounds together. With members from all across the world, The Mixtapes come together with a common musical interest in funk, R&B, and soul. They thrive on re-imagining the familiar, exploring new interpretations of classic songs, and infusing a fresh energy into contemporary hits. The Mixtapes made it to ICCA Semifinals for two consecutive years, and they are thrilled to present a new iteration of the group in this year’s competition. In a world of growing uncertainty, The Mixtapes are grateful to always have their musical family to return to, reminding them of the limitless power of the human voice.

FREQUENCY A Cappella is from Pace University in New York, N.Y. One of two a cappella groups on Pace University's campus, this is FREQUENCY's first year in as an a cappella group and in the ICCA. The inspiration behind the name FREQUENCY came from the idea of radio frequencies. As a group, they contain a variety of different voices, which allows them to master all different genres, just like the different frequencies of a radio.

L’Shir first came to be in spring of 2000. Originally an all-Jewish a cappella group, L'Shir has evolved to comprise many denominations.  They still call themselves "L'Shir," which literally translates to “to sing” in Hebrew, referring to raising a glass and cheering for making music

The Bottom Line is Bryant University's premier co-ed a cappella group. Founded in 2006, this is a group where musicians become friends and friends become family. The Bottom Line performs music ranging from pop hits to emotional power ballads.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Amy Malkoff is the Media Director of the Women's A Cappella Association (WACA), Marketing Director for the A Cappella Education Association, and one of the producers of Haunted Harmonies in Salem, Mass. Amy served on the board and as web content director for the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA) and is a longtime ICHSA/ICCA judge, as well as a certified judge for other events. She is a frequent workshop teacher, master clinician, writer, designer, runner of social media campaigns (www.amymalkoff.com), and a singer/songwriter and studio musician (www.amymalkoffmusic.com). She was a founding member of award-winning groups All About Buford and Deadline Poet, and has appeared onstage and in the studio with such luminaries as Wayne Brady, Jonathan Brooke, The Persuasions, Ellis Paul, Vance Gilbert, GrooveLily, Patty Griffin, and Dar Williams. She has a degree in music from Kenyon College, with music studies at Youngstown State University and master’s-level coursework at the New England Conservatory of Music. Amy's music has appeared on both the Rounder Records and Hear Music/Starbucks labels. @amalkoff

Shannon McNulty 
is excited to see this year’s incredible lineup of ICHSA competitors! A graduate of Ithaca College, Shannon currently teaches at Marlborough High School, where she directs two choirs, and teaches the award-winning a cappella recording class, Music Production. Shannon joined The Vocal Company in 2013. As TVC's Director of Education, Shannon plans the popular Next Level seminars, as well as the acappellaEd events held across the country. Shannon has a B.M in vocal performance and music education (Ithaca College, 2007) and a M.M. in music education (Boston University, 2012). She is a member of NAfME, ACDA, CASA, and AEA.

Alex Grover 
is the choral director at Danvers High School (Massachusetts), where he created and leads the a cappella groups, Falconize and Ingrid Sound. Both ensembles have represented the Northeast nationally in competition at ICHSA Finals and NACC, respectively. He is also the founder and former director of Salem High School's a cappella group, WitchPitch? (three-time ICHSA Northeast Champions). Alex's groups have made appearances on the Varsity Vocals BOHSA compilations and been nominated for Contemporary A CAppella Recording Awards (CARAs). He was a four-year member and three-year director of his undergraduate collegiate group, The Gentlemen Callers, and recently co-founded the group's Alumni Union. Alex currently sings with The Cylcle, a semi-professional group he formed out of Boston's Northshore, and serves as the executive director for the Haunted Harmonies A Cappella Festival in Salem, Mass. He holds B.A. in music from Wheaton College (Massachusetts) and a M.M. in music education from Boston University. www.grovervocals.com

Ana Morel 
is the choral director at Wakefield High School, in Wakefield, Mass., where she directs five ensembles, including the award-winning groups, She Major and Voices of Steel. She also works as music director for WHS Theater Arts, advises the WHS Tri-M Chapter, and teaches courses in music theory and electronic composition. She is a graduate of Ithaca College (B.M. in music education, 2003, and M.M. in choral conducting, 2009), where she performed with and directed Premium Blend. She is an active clinician, adjudicator, and festival manager, and performs with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

Shams Ahmed 
is an arranger, music director, and educator from Cherry Hill, NJ. He is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., where he directed a cappella heavy-hitter group, The Nor'easters, while double majoring in finance and Mandarin. During his tenure, the group earned several compilation placements and CARAs and Shams earned numerous arranging awards. While directing and singing with the Sojam X and ICCA 2013/2017 champions, Shams also founded the all-female group, Pitch, Please. More recently, he was featured alongside The Nor’easters in Season 1 of POP TV’s reality docu-series, “Sing It On,” and can be seen coaching groups on Season 2. He is also a director and a teacher of musicianship and arranging at A Cappella Academy, a Los Angeles-based summer camp founded by Avi Kaplan, formerly of Pentatonix. In the fall, he can be found bringing a cappella music to South Beach alongside a panel of experts, including Ben Bram, Robert Dietz, and India Carney at The Betsy's A Cappella Festival. Shams serves as a regular judge at ICCA, ICHSA, and CASA events all over the country. Outside of a cappella, he also serves as Director, Talent & Creative for Northeastern University's $1.4 billion Empower fundraising campaign. He currently lives in Boston, working in business intelligence, arranging, coaching, and overseeing projects in the a cappella world. @theonlyshamsyouknow

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 placing group advances to ICCA Finals!

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