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 UNITED KINGDOM QUARTERFINAL

 

Oxford University
Saturday, February 17, 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

 

The Oxford Alternotives of the University of Oxford is the oldest a cappella group in the U.K. Established years ago, this group provided an “alternative” to the classical choirs that dominated the university. The Alts is a mixed group, but having two genders isn’t the only thing that sets them apart from other groups at the uni. They love to go beyond just making pop covers and to turn familiar songs on their heads. David Bowie’s “Heroes” mixed with superhero themes, perhaps? 16th century Palestrina as part of a Muse mashup? They’ve got you covered. But above all else, this group is a loving group of friends that love to hang out together, whether they’re singing or not. In the past amazing year, they recorded an EP, performed at the Edinburgh Fringe for their eighth consecutive year, and appeared on BBC1’s “Pitch Battle,” a singing competition for vocal groups of all stripes. This experience helped them improve their technique and performing skills. Following on from this taster of a cappella competition, they are incredibly excited for their first-ever shot at the ICCA! 

The Cosmopolitones is the first all-female a cappella group at the University of Leeds. After performing in 2017 ICCA Quarterfinals,The Cosmopolitones have gained a mission to spread their love of a cappella throughout Leeds, Yorkshire, and next, the world! They draw influences from sounds old and new to bring a myriad of mellifluous melodies to excite, move, and inspire their audiences. From a variety of diverse backgrounds and with a vast spectrum of interests, they are united by an intense love of music and the timeless and unique sound they create.

The DeciBelles is the all-female group hailing from across the bridge in Cardiff! These sass queens have gone from strength to strength, performing in an array of events for the University, for charities, and more! Rehearsing twice a week, these 14 students perform repertoire arranged by their members, with plenty of scope thanks to the diverse music tastes in the group. They are swiftly able to unleash their sassy and sensitive sides, predominantly singing songs conceived and performed by strong female artists, including Britney Spears, Peggy Lee, MILCK, Ariana Grande, and more. Throughout rehearsal, the words ‘dynamics!’ and ‘blend!’ can be frequently heard uttered by their musical director. The group constantly works to perfect the even tone and musicality that they’re known for throughout the Welsh capital. Improvisation games are also a common occurrence with these gals; they unleash everyone’s creativity and help them get their heads in the game!

The Imperielles is Imperial College London’s first all-female contemporary group. They’re the closest of friends, be it on or offstage, and they usually spend rehearsals laughing, chatting, and throwing in the occasional bout of singing for good measure. They have participated in the ICCA for the last three years and are so excited for another! With exciting gigs, busking in South Kensington and Portobello Road, and producing their very own music videos and Soundcloud tunes, The Imperielles are always expanding their horizons and pop-centric repertoire.

The Rolling Tones is King’s College London’s all-female a cappella group. In 2017, they were the first all-female group to win the Voice Festival U.K. University Competition, they competed in the ICCA for the first time and placed 2nd in the U.K. Semifinal, and they sold out their debut Edinburgh Fringe show. More recently, they released their debut single and music video, “Teardrop.” The Rolling Tones enjoy singing and snacking.

The Songsmiths of Leeds University is Leeds' first and best a cappella group. This group proves the saying, “it's not the size that matters, it's how you use it!” They pride themselves on creating a huge wall of sound and bringing energy to every performance, always leaving everything on the stage. Outside of competitions, they love gigging all around Leeds. Want a bit of Adele at your wedding? No problem. Fancy some Fleetwood Mac at your funeral? Give them a call (they’re incredibly cheap). From flash-mobs in the Union to spots on TV and radio, they are up for anything and relish any opportunity to try something new. They enjoyed a very successful 2017 season and attending ICCA Quarterfinals was a huge highlight! Despite placing 4th and missing out on Semifinals by a few points, they learned a lot and had an amazing time. They also got through to the Voice Festival U.K. University Final for the fourth year in a row, performing the best set the group has ever created, and coming away with the Best Soloist award for the third year in succession. After narrowly missing out on 1st place, they walked away feeling like they’d made a mark on the U.K. a cappella scene, and they are ready to take it to the next level!

Surcery is a mixed fusion group singing English and Hindi contemporary songs. They aim to seamlessly mix the best of both worlds. Characteristic Western harmonies and well-known R&B vocal runs are combined with Indian classical music’s intricate alaap and more modern melodious Hindi songs, all to synthesize a unique blend where East truly meets West. A cappella provides the perfect platform to merge these distinct musical genres together. They use catchy bass riffs, funky beatboxing, and common chord sequences that unite Eastern and Western music styles. This group believes that music is a universal language spoken by everyone around the world, expressed in a variety of ways. It breaks down cultural barriers and helps to communicate a myriad of emotions through song. They hope to capture their audiences’ attention through a diverse range of musical styles, perhaps introducing them to new genres they have not experienced before. Last year, the group participated in its first ICCA and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Surcery also won the inaugural inter-university fusion music competition, Bollywood Beat, earning them a performance in the prestigious Hammersmith Apollo. Most recently, Surcery featured in Sky 1’s hit prime-time show, “Sing: Ultimate A Cappella.” Now in its third year, Surcery is excited not only to put fusion a cappella on the map in the U.K., but to also establish itself as an established fusion a cappella group across the globe.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Matt Chinery is an a cappella singer and recording engineer with over a decade of experience in contemporary a cappella. He sang for two years with Oxford University's Out of the Blue, and with them, finished 2nd place at the 2006 ICCA Final in New York. He also directed scratch group, Last Minute, in the 2008 BBC television series, "Last Choir Standing." He currently sings with AfterParty A Cappella, a former Shard Choir of the Year and member of the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL). As a recording engineer, Matt's credits include one Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) and several further nominations, a track on prestigious compilation album Sing 9, a Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB) Pick of 2015, and multiple tracks on U.K. Compilation, The Voice Collection. In his limited spare time, he is a lawyer.

Blessed with fiery red hair and a 6’5″ frame, Jonny Stewart is a bass, producer, live engineer, and arranger. While studying music at King’s College London, he directed three-time ICCA Finalists All the King's Men and performed with them in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, and the U.S. His combined experience as a choral singer, jazz saxophonist, and indie-folk keyboard player have influenced his distinctive vocal bass sound. In 2017, Jonny and fellow AtKM alumnus Gus Nicholson launched NoVI, a six-piece group based in London. With original songwriting and innovative vocal arrangements at the heart of their ethos, NoVI seeks to make both great music and great art. First-year highlights include singing to a sold-out audience at the iconic Carnegie Hall, making their London debut at the Bedford, performing as guest artists at Exeter's Northcott Theatre, and releasing their debut music videos. A proud Scotsman, sports nut, and Star Wars fan, Jonny's work as a producer and live sound engineer with the Vocal Company has received multiple album placements (SING, BOHSA) and award nominations (CARAs, AVAs). 

Midé Naike developed an avid interest in a cappella in 2012, and joined Sons of Pitches the following year as its beatboxer. Highlights over his two years with the group include performances at the Edinburgh Fringe, Paderborn (Germany) 2015, and a crazy three weeks in Hong Kong. In the U.K., they've run a number of school workshops, including his own solo beatbox masterclass. In 2015, he and the boys won BBC's The Naked Choir, which was a truly awesome experience!

AJ O'Neill has a varied musical background. He started, managed, choreographed, and arranged the music and harmonies for The Gleeks, the U.K.’s number one "Glee" tribute act, which performed both tracked and a cappella pop songs. AJ also has an impressive musical theatre resumé, having played the roles of Amos and Mary Sunshine in the West End cast of "Chicago," performed in the European premiere of "A Man of No Importance" and its West End transfer, and lead roles in the Irish premieres of "Songs for a New World," "The Last 5 Years," and "Listen to My Heart." As an educator, he teaches musical theatre performance at DanceWorks and Pineapple, two of the U.K.’s premier theatre studios. AJ has also sung lead on ad campaigns for Puma and toured the Netherlands with a close harmony Irish music show featuring male vocalists, "Druid," singing high tenor.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Ian Wood, Bradley King, Dan Mailer, Gemma Davies, Nick Bradley and FACES, and Claire Sampson; 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 three placing groups advance to ICCA United Kingdom 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