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

 

University of Edinburgh
Saturday, February 3, 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

 

Hailing from the University Of Aberdeen, Aberpella has been making music since 2011. Like other a cappella groups, they love to bring fun and energy to the stage with a cheeky little noughties banger. However, over the last few years, their competition sets have gained a trademark intensity and dark, thick tone. Drawing inspiration from bands like Imagine Dragons, Fall Out Boy, and Maroon 5, they love to delve into darker, intense music-making. The group has experienced lots of success, competing in its first ICCA last year and making it all the way to U.K. Semifinals. They also competed in two other competitions last year, made and performed a successful Edinburgh Fringe show, and recorded an EP entitled Fifty Tones Of Grey. The group hopes to be just as successful this year and is ready to show the a cappella community that they mean business. They love being together and working as a team, and most importantly, putting on a show and giving their audiences a heavy dose of entertainment. Rocking between sassy humor and adrenaline-inducing numbers, Aberpella promises an anything-but-grey performance from the granite city.

Aca-Pocalypse is a tight-knit 14-piece mixed a cappella group from the University of Nottingham, in its third year in existence. They love singing a cappella together from a varied repertoire, including pop, indie, and rock, but above all, they love spending time together as a group, coming up with distinctive and fun warm-ups. These often involve Disney songs and a fair amount of Beyoncé. Although their members study various degree subjects, including maths, engineering, and history, they come joyously together for a mutual admiration of making harmonious noises with their mouths. They’re known for their energetic choreography, notably featured in their La La Land Medley, performed at the Voice Festival U.K. Semifinals of 2017. However, their renewed focus on blending provides a much stronger foundation for their arrangements. This year, they hope to keep developing their reputation across the U.K. and particularly look forward to premiering their new color scheme inspired by their university's sports department: #GreenandGold.

The Accidentals is the first all-female a cappella group from The University of St. Andrews. Made up of 10 members from all over the world, The Accidentals pride themselves on their diverse group makeup and the ability to blend into one accent! Known for being fun, fierce, and sassy, the group performs a range of different songs and is always excited to get onstage and perform. In previous years, they have been crowned Scottish Champions and competed in ICCA Semifinals. They are so excited to be involved in the ICCA again this year and can't wait to show everyone what they have been working on!

Combining a range of musical influences, this feisty and cool group does not shy away from any musical genre or mash-up combination! From the classic sounds of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder to contemporary Beyoncé ballads to traditional folk music, The Alleycats love to explore the endless musical possibilities of a cappella. The 13 vocalists in this high-energy act provide award-winning contemporary a cappella, combining a full range of male and female voices into a velvety blend. The Alleycats began with a group of friends in 2001 who shared their love of singing over a pint in the pub and discovered the enjoyment that their music could evoke. Their unique style has developed over the years, but retains their classic white high-top shoes and suave look. They strive to emotionally connect with their songs in order to captivate audiences and provide top-quality entertainment! In 2015, they embarked upon their first-ever U.S. Tour to the East Coast, singing with groups across four states, including those at Yale, Princeton, and MIT. Every year, The Alleycats perform at events and corporate functions across the U.K. (a particular highlight being the annual Edinburgh Fringe), all while participating successfully in competitions. In March 2017, they were crowned Scottish A Cappella Champions, with their fabulous musical director Lauren Gage winning the award for Best Arrangement.

The Killer Quines is an all-female a cappella group from the University of Aberdeen, ready to entertain with their angelic sound and sassy attitudes. Despite their very Scottish name, these Quines are from all over Europe, and each one brings a unique quality to their performance. The group’s fresh new music director Pauline has embraced the evolution of The Quines and brought out new strengths. With a diverse musical background, they strike a unique balance between all of their individual sounds. They believe the nature of a cappella is as flexible as their voices allow them to be, whether that entails soft, angelic choral sounds, layered gospel singing, gritty, explosive soul, or silky, smooth folk. Taking pride in all their clean, raspy, passionate, quiet, full, crisp, and purposeful notes alike, they invest in a variety of techniques and sounds that keep them on their toes. In order to not let a single voice go unnoticed, they take turns in vocal percussion between parts, and like to be inclusive with solos, taking advantage of a multitude of skills contained in the group. 

Greetings from The Northern Lights, a mixed a cappella group from Durham University. Formed only four years ago, they have already made huge advances in the U.K. a cappella scene. This group’s energy and power onstage sets them apart from others, and they have a track record of awing audiences with their superb soloists and blended harmonies. They believe a cappella is more than its sound, but also about the group’s dynamic. The Northern Lights continually strive to nurture a familial bond within the group, helping them bring out the best in one another. They have had sell-out crowds and sterling reviews at their week-long Edinburgh Fringe show, and recently released their second professionally produced music video, “Bird Set Free.” They hope this combination of gifts will create an incredible experience for tonight’s audience.

The Other Guys was originally founded in 2004 by a group of friends who wanted to bring the American tradition of collegiate a cappella to the university town of St. Andrews. They have rapidly grown to become the premier all-male a cappella ensemble in Scotland. Combining the classical with the contemporary, their philosophy has always been to entertain.

Take Five is the University of Nottingham's smallest group, formed in 2015. They love focusing on close harmony and blend, and constantly love to challenge themselves. They seek to get the best out of each of their members, through arrangements that highlight their various strengths. They are all best friends, and hold rehearsals at the home of their music director and alto 2, Raman and Viv. Despite all the laughter and messing about during rehearsals, they somehow manage to sing a wide variety of genres and aim to push themselves even further in competitions, hopefully bringing something new and interesting to the plate!

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Rachel Mason is an international vocal judge, performer, award-winning songwriter, singing teacher, and musical director. Most recently, she was a judge for the “Sky One Television’s Sing: Ultimate A Cappella,” which was nominated for a National Television Award, and has judged a cappella and show choir contests across the U.K., Canada, and Ireland. She has also run vocal workshops and arranged music for choirs all over the world. Rachel music directed for many vocal groups, including Euphoria, the U.K.’s top show choir until it ended in 2015. With Euphoria, she performed on international stages, radio, and television, and won numerous awards. Having gained a master’s degree in songwriting, Rachel now writes songs for “The Voice U.K.” alumni, a “Canadian Idol” star, artists signed to major record labels, and BBC Introducing bands. She is also half of the singer songwriter duo, Tucker and Mason. Her award-winning song, “Body On Mute” (performed by Rachel with Euphoria Show Choir), has been adopted by two international anti-bullying charities as their anthem. The song has raised thousands of pounds for charity, has been performed in many different countries, and even had its lyrics featured on a range of American Apparel clothing.

For many years, Stephen Hogg combined the careers of singer and management consultant. He studied with Raymond Connell, and was a student on “The Knack” at English National Opera. He was a member of professional choirs of St Mary's, Bourne Street, and St George's, Hanover Square in London over a  20-year period, and has sung with choirs of several other London churches, including Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral. Internationally, Stephen has sung in South Africa, the U.S., Canada, Germany, Israel, and Bermuda. Solo work has included the Mozart and Michael Haydn Requiems, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Purcell’s Odes, Handel's Messiah and Solomon, and Zelenka’s Lamentations. He has had two opera roles written for him. Ever versatile, Stephen has regularly performed the countertenor repertoire, but has also taken the tenor role in Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” the Sorceress in Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” and the mezzo soprano solo in Durufle’s “Requiem,” both to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His last engagements included Cole Porter and Gilbert and Sullivan. Stephen has now retired from both careers, but once in a while gives into temptation and drags himself out of retirement.

Samuel Swinnerton-Woolf grew up in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, competing as a concert pianist. He moved to the south of England in 2008 and is now a professional session musician and producer, specializing in pop music and the keytar. As a performer, Samuel has toured venues all over the world, from stadium performances across Asia to a tiny ice-shelf in Antarctica. In between mini-tours of Europe and playing gigs all over the U.K., he spends what time is left producing and arranging music for all sorts of bands and choirs. With a plethora of a cappella groups under his belt (including Out of the Blue and AfterParty A Cappella), including dozens of arrangements, choreographies, and almost a decade of performing as a bass, Samuel looks forward to seeing the incredible standard of a cappella that the next generation has to offer.

Rosalind Johnson’s musical journey began at the age of 5 when she began studying piano and then trumpet soon after. She kept busy with various musical ensembles throughout her school career, including orchestras, wind bands, and choirs, all while studying music at GCSE and A Level. At 17, she discovered barbershop and joined Phoenix Chorus, with whom she placed 5th at the National competition in 2010. At the University of Edinburgh, Rosalind quickly became involved in the management of the Edinburgh University Music Society, producing six large scale concerts a year and touring each summer. With the Forth Valley Chorus, she won three national gold medals and competed in three international competitions, achieving an 11th place finish in Las Vegas in 2017. Through her involvement in barbershop, she also been a member of the LABBS Youth Chorus and three competing quartets, placing as high as 4th in the National competition. In 2016, she also took on the role of music director of The Rolling Hills Chorus, Scotland's premier male barbershop ensemble, and produced a successful show at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Rosalind’s biggest passion is arranging and she has created numerous custom a cappella pieces, including the full repertoire for her a cappella trio, Black Velvet, which has been performing in and around Edinburgh since 2013. She strives for expansive and intricate sounds in all her work and loves sharing the limitless possibilities of harmony with every audience.

At Imperial College London, Peter Noden was a member of The Techtonics and helped them claim the title of ICCA Champions in 2016, the first non-U.S. group to do so in the competition's history. Since then, Peter has pursued a career as a professional actor and singer and has performed with various ensembles, including the Maida Vale Singers, the BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and John Wilson Orchestra. Having graduated from the M.A. musical theatre course with distinction at the Royal Academy of Music, Peter has built up an extensive and ongoing resumé of theatrical experience.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Helena Benthall, Max Hunter, Dan Mailer, Gemma Davies, Tarquin Penman, Iain McQueen and the team at The Queen’s Hall, 5 Beats in a Bar, Frankie Elyse, Yasmin Mahal, Zoe Hutber, Kate Godlein, and Steve Robb and the team at Live Systems Ltd.; 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