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 Exeter
Saturday, February 10, 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

 

Academy A Cappella is University of Bristol's all-male a cappella group. They study a diverse range of intensive degree subjects, ranging from chemical physics to law, but when performing, they really like to let their hair down (well, what there is of it). You might recognize them as national heartthrobs from “Sky One's Sing: Ultimate A Cappella.” They like to put as much energy as possible into their performances and really show off their personalities. They want their audiences to experience a whole range of emotions, so they try to come up with a diverse portfolio of arrangements. From powerful ballads to cheesy tunes, they always aim to put on an exciting show, which should be more fun than being in the library all day! They like to put their own twist on popular songs, and often incorporate comedy into their sets, but they’ll let the judges assess that.

The Bluebelles is Exeter’s jazziest a cappella group! Despite only forming in 2013, the girls are already known for vintage twists on modern music and their herculean musical medley that features 56 musicals in 12 minutes! You cannot miss their 2017 music video, “The Sound of Musicals” (featuring 37 musicals in six minutes), that amassed over half a million views in 36 hours on the Theatre Nerds Facebook page. The Bluebelles have competed twice in ICCA Quarterfinals, the Semifinals of Voice Fest U.K., and have had three hugely successful runs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, for which they have received five-star reviews. The girls also released a single, “Love on Top,” in 2016, which can be found on Spotify. This year, The Bluebelles will record more music, perform around the university and city, compete at a national and international level, and return to the Edinburgh Fringe.

The Bristol Suspensions is a mixed a cappella group from the University of Bristol. They were Voice Festival 2016 champions in only their second year of existence. Now in their fourth year, they have recorded two albums, released three music videos and many live videos, had a sold-out Fringe run, toured the northeastern U.S., appeared on BBC One's “Pitch Battle,” and won The Voice Festival U.K. They placed 3rd in the ICCA U.K. Semifinal last year and are back again, mainly to crash the after-party!

Illuminations, representing the University of Exeter’s mixed a cappella scene, is returning to the competition for its third year. The group has hit new heights in recent years, reaching the ICCA U.K. Semifinal round for the first time last year, only their second time in the competition. Last August, they took their first show to Fringe, achieving a sold-out show by the end of the week. To top it off, they recently appeared on Sky One’s show, “Sing: Ultimate A Cappella,” getting the chance to show off their unique sound to a wider audience than ever before. With new members, songs, and a fresh image, this year they hope to build on their performance last year, come back even stronger than ever, and show the a cappella scene what they can really do.

Pitch Fight is the University of Bristol’s only auditioned all-female-identifying a cappella group, and self-proclaimed sassiest group in Bristol a cappella. Now in its third year of existence, Pitch Fight has paved its way into the world of a cappella, singing at private functions, debuting in collegiate competitions, and putting on its first headline show. Fresh and enthused from their feature on Sky One’s recent show, “Sing: Ultimate A Cappella,” the now 14-piece group is thrilled to kick it up a notch and show off some of its brilliant new talent. They have molded their identity through their common passion for women’s rights. In their first two years, the singers of Pitch Fight married their individual political enthusiasm with their love of singing together as a group, partaking in and performing at numerous women’s rights events. Having performed at women’s rights marches, most recently sharing a platform with Dr Helen Pankhurst, Pitch Fight is now working with Bristol Women’s voice towards putting on workshops and performances for International Women’s day, and co-organizing an all-female a cappella showcase to display some of U.K.’s excellent female talent. Armed with a bold new look, Pitch Fight has been working tirelessly to pair tight harmonies with fierce choreography. They stand to empower one another, welcoming the unique vocal backgrounds of each singer and celebrating the wide array of styles within the group. Pitch Fight has spent their first two years finding themselves in the a cappella scene and they’re ready to take this year by storm.

Formed in 2006, Sweet Nothings is Exeter’s premier all-female a cappella group. Boasting a wide repertoire, ranging from Hall & Oates to Ed Sheeran and Beyonce, these girls have gone from strength to strength in the past few years. They appeared on BBC’s “The Choir,” and regularly compete in national and international competitions. In 2017, they reached Finals of the Voice Festival U.K., winning awards for Best Solo and Outstanding Choreography and Stagecraft. More recently, they released their second charity music video, a cover of Sia’s “Chandelier.”

Cardiff University’s Vox, founded in 2014, is a mixed a cappella group of 14 members with six voice parts. They have performed at a range of gigs, university events, and have also taken to the streets of Cardiff to busk for charity. Consisting mostly of students, plus two recent graduates, the range of voices in Vox allows for a diverse and contrasting repertoire of songs, including pop, classical, and musicals. This versatile group ably adapts to the different genres and moods required for each performance. Vox’s songs are chosen and arranged by at least one of its members and can include some challenging harmonies and rhythms, all of which are polished up in twice-weekly rehearsals. The group has grown both in its size and level of musicianship since it started, helped along by the incorporation of improvisation ‘ball games’ in rehearsals, a favorite exercise among members to improve listening skills and vocal blend. They have a lot of fun as a group, but remain focused on constantly improving to reach their full potential.


GUEST PERFORMER


Sound Hypothesis is a barbershop quartet which has already made a splash on both sides of the pond. They won the Novice award at the British Barbershop Convention in Bournemouth and picked up the Varsity (under 26) Novice award in Las Vegas at the 2017 International Convention, earning the highest scores by a new quartet each time. More recently, this past November, they won the British Youth Quartet Contest. The boys met while singing in the contemporary a cappella group, The Techtonics, at Imperial College London. Inspired by recent International champions such as Vocal Spectrum, Ringmasters, and Instant Classic, they have embraced “the martial art of a cappella” (Deke Sharon, “godfather” of contemporary a cappella) and grown to love many older groups like Boston Common and The Suntones. They will perform next on the 24th of February in London.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Alicia Gayle's love of voices-only music began when she joined The Florida State University Acabelles. She served the group as an arranger, choreographer, and vocal percussionist, picking up skills on the way to be an inspiring and supportive musical director. After moving back to the U.K., Alicia directed The Oxford Belles through an incredible run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and participation in the Voice Festival U.K. competition. She then moved on to pursue her postgraduate studies at Imperial College London, where she sang and arranged for The Imperielles. The biggest highlight of her a cappella career remains competing in the ICCA and making it to ICCA Finals in New York! She is excited to be getting involved once again and looks forward to enjoying the great performances tonight. 

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! 

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 nominations for Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) and A Cappella Video Awards (AVAs). 

Nick Bradley is a singer/songwriter and session musician from Chester in the North of England. He was a member of The Techtonics in 2016, the pivotal year that they became the first British a cappella group to win the ICCA Champion title. He has performed on Broadway, The West End, at the Albert Hall, Latitude festival, to sold-out stadiums in Hong Kong, and has toured all across America. Just last year, Nick sang “Bang Bang” by Jessie J on ITV's “Tonight at The London Palladium'” and performed on BBC Television and Radio shows. At university, Nick was awarded a scholarship from Imperial College London to study at The Royal College of Music as a classical baritone. There, he performed works as a soloist with the The Imperial College Symphony Orchestra and played Sweeney in the Imperial production of “Sweeney Todd.” Nick currently sings for Gareth Malone's professional group, Voices, and is simultaneously pursuing a solo career, writing for himself and other artists in various studios around London. Keep up  with him on Facebook @Nick Bradley Music or Instagram @nickyblive. His new band, FACES, will be performing at ICCA Quarterfinals in Oxford next week!

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Max Hunter, Sound Hypothesis, Gemma Davies, Dan Mailer, Mark Gambrill and all the team at the Northcott Theatre, Leo Diebel, Izzie Cotterell, Rosie Pincott, and Linh Moran; 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