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!


Amanda Newman
Executive Director



University of Tennessee
Saturday, January 27, 2018



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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



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.



Founded in 1994, Aural Pleasure is Emory University's oldest co-ed a cappella group on campus. This is NOT your mother's "glee club.” AP is proud to bring intense energy to its performances and an edge to its arrangements, sound, and style. They are the bad boys and girls of a cappella. You won't find any “doo wops” in AP's songs, and that's just the way they like it! 

EQ Blu is a mixed a cappella group from Murray State University in western Kentucky.  The group was founded in 2015 by their director, Dr. Chris Mitchell, and is one of several vocal/choral ensembles in the school’s music department. They are often asked about our name. The EQ comes from “equus,” the latin word for horse, because the Murray State mascot is a race horse.  Of course, it also refers to audio equalizer.  The Blu comes from the Murray State colors of blue and gold. 

Harmonic Notion hails from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. This small, tight-knit group of singers was founded in 2013 and is excited to take the ICCA stage for the fifth time. On the Vanderbilt campus, Harmonic Notion is known as a fun-loving, quirky group with high standards for musicianship and performance. They look forward to sharing the stage with some awesome a cappella groups and hope you enjoy the show!

The Melanated A Cappella mission on Vanderbilt's campus is to create a safe and lively environment for all kinds of singers, rappers, and beatboxers to collaborate on a cappella music. They encourage all minority groups to join Melanated, and hope to create a more inclusive a cappella culture on campus. As a group, they explore a variety of musical styles to highlight a diverse range of voices. They sing any and all styles of music. Fom Disney theme songs to rap to Billboard 100 songs, they do it all! 

Pitchmen is the premier student-run men’s a cappella group from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Its members include a variety of majors, from commercial voice to audio engineering to music business and more, and are selected through an audition process that takes place each semester. All of Pitchmen’s music is selected and arranged by members of the group and comes from a wide range of musical genres. The singers of Pitchmen strive to provide their audiences with a fun, yet classy, a cappella experience and to develop musical men of the highest caliber.

Prismatics is Belmont University's newest co-ed a cappella ensemble. They strive to promote unity within music and to spread love among musicians, as well as in the world. Founded in the fall of 2015, Prismatics is eager to compete at ICCA for their second year. 

The Swashbucklers is East Tennessee State University's student-led men's a cappella group. Since the ensemble's formation in the fall of 2015, they have performed locally in the East Tennessee area, as well as Illinois and Missouri. The Swashbucklers have been featured in the Men in Song Festival in Johnson City for three years, as well as at the first annual Bucappella festival, also in Johnson City. The members pride themselves on the strong sense of family and brotherhood within the group. 

The Volatiles is the newest a cappella group at the University of Tennessee, as well as UT’s first all-male group to exist entirely independent of the music department. Formed with the hope of providing a wonderful contemporary music experience for those who may not be traditionally trained musicians, they look forward to challenging the existing barriers of a cappella music. They cannot wait to see what their first year has in store!

UT Singers is a contemporary a cappella group composed of students from multiple majors across campus. They perform a variety of music, including R&B, pop, oldies, and rock, with many of their own arrangements. Their heavy performance schedule includes hired gigs for private and corporate parties, million-dollar UT donor functions, sporting events, NACC, competitions such as ICCA and SoJam, and VOLcappella, featuring Avi Kaplan from the Pentatonix! UT Singers is the oldest vocal ensemble on the UT campus with roots dating back to the 50s. Like any great artist, the group has evolved its image with the changing times. UT Singers began as a traditional choral ensemble, then changed to a show choir, a jazz choir, and now exists as a contemporary a cappella group. They have a long line of distinguished alumni and it’s rare not to meet at least one former member at UT functions. 

VOLT is the University of Tennessee’s premier student-led co-ed a cappella group. Founded in the summer of 2015, VOLT is proud to embark on its third season. The current group runs under the presidency of Amber Hale, musical direction of Evan Price, and includes four new members. They love making music together and embrace originality and diversity. Special thanks goes to Misty Anderson, their enthusiastic faculty sponsor, and to McKinley Merritt, their founder and original fearless leader. They are excited to perform for you!



Sharon Cho is a high school music director and recording artist in Nashville, Tenn. She has sung for Hans Zimmer Live on Tour, Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo' (whose album got nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album), New York/ Nashville Connection, and LoudMono Productions. In addition, she has recorded for several films, including “The Nanny” and “Johnefe, 17.” She currently directs the a cappella and jazz groups for LittleStone Music Festival and has led the a cappella group for Windish Music Productions. She continues to perform in the Chicagoland and Nashville area, singing jazz with her own band.

Kristina Richie received her Bachelor of Music from Miami University, where she served as music director of the all-female a cappella group, The Misfitz, and assistant conductor of two choral ensembles. After graduation, Kristina co-taught middle school and high school choir in Mason, Ohio. She then traveled to India, where she worked for six months as administrative director of the fledgling KM Music Conservatory. Kristina also worked for renowned film composer A.R. Rahman, orchestrating film scores and recording as a playback singer. Her work and performances appear in several films, including "Slumdog Millionaire." She received her Master of Arts in ethnomusicology and humanities from The University of Chicago in 2009 and currently serves as the education manager for the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.

A graduate of Western Carolina University with a Bachelor of Arts in piano pedagogy, Sarah Fowler currently serves as the Director of Music Ministries at the First Presbyterian Church in Weaverville, N.C. where she directs the adult, youth, and handbell choirs as well as the Orchestra. In 2013, she founded the Multiplicity Music Studio where she teaches private piano and voice to students of all ages. She is one of the most sought-after accompanists and musical theatre directors, performing regularly at several community theatres and middle/high schools throughout western North Carolina. She is a former member/co-founder of Vocal Blast, Asheville's premier show choir. Sarah has performed alongside notable performers such as Angela Brown, David Malis, Tonio DiPaolo, and Sherrill Milnes as well as the U.S. Army Field Band. She is honored to return to Varsity Vocals as an adjudicator.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Angie Batey; 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



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 South Semifinals.



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!





The International Championship
of A Cappella Open


Carnegie Hall
 Saturday, September 22, 2018