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 SEMIFINAL

 

New Wimbledon Theatre 
Saturday, March 31, 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

 

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 in an effort to 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.

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!

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!

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.

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 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 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 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. Narrowly missing out on 1st place, they left proud to have made a mark on the U.K. a cappella scene, and they are ready to take it to the next level!

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Alex Moore has been singing on the London a cappella scene for six years and was musical director of 2016 ICCA champion, The Techtonics, from 2013-2015. Currently a member of three semi-professional a cappella groups, Alex is also a big band singer, and former boy chorister at Wells Cathedral. He sings with the Wellensian Consort (BBC Choir of the Year 2010), studies singing with Alex Farkas, and is a keen cellist.

Edward Scott 
was music director of Semi-Toned for two years, leading the group to win the top prize at Voice Festival U.K. championships in 2015, and 2nd place at ICCA Semifinals in 2014. He has since spent over a year performing professionally around the world with “Gobsmacked!,” an a cappella and beatboxing show. He has given workshops on a cappella music both in the U.K. and abroad.

Andrew Carter 
earned a B.M. with honors in vocal and operatic performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Currently the bass and music captain for the international touring show, ”The Choir of Man,”  Andrew is in demand both as a performer and vocal director. He has worked as an associate artist with Birmingham Symphony Hall and is junior artist in residence with Ark Music, having coached vocal and a cappella at schools, societies and universities in Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Northampton and at the International Music Education Expo at the London Olympia.

Jo Goldsmith Eteson 
is currently a member of The Swingles. She started singing at school with various groups, including an a cappella group that she led herself. She was a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and has since served as a member of staff. Jo studied voice at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama before joining The Swingles in 2006. She has won several Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) for her arrangements and has given workshops and masterclasses all over the world. As a session singer, she has sung live backing vocals for alternative rock legend Elizabeth Fraser and can be heard on film soundtracks including “The Hobbit,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Arthur Christmas,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “The Hunger Games,” “Jurassic World,” and “Downsizing,” for which she co-wrote the end credit song.

Lucy Potterton 
is a highly experienced soloist, backing singer, songwriter and vocal coach. She has performed live alongside artists such as Florence Welch, Anna Calvi, Elizabeth Fraser, Nigel Kennedy, Jamie Cullum, and more. Lucy was a member of the international a cappella group, The Swingle Singers, for three years. With the group, she was fortunate enough to sing with the incredible Boston Pops Orchestra led by Maestro Keith Lockhart, tour with jazz legend Kurt Elling, and sing at the iconic La Scala in Milan. As a backing singer for Florence and The Machine, Lucy headlined some of the world's most popular music festivals, including Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage and Coachella. She has played to sold out crowds at the Hollywood Bowl and Red Rocks Amphitheatre and performed live on prime time television shows such as “Saturday Night Live” and “Later... With Jools Holland.” Lucy remains active on the London session scene and regularly provides vocals for studio albums, Hollywood film soundtracks, and video games. Lucy has been a vocal coach for ITV's “The Voice” since 2016 and has released a solo EP under her alias, Lulah.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Helena Benthall, Gemma Davies, Max Hunter, Jonny Stewart and all of NoVI, Peter Noden, Dan Mailer, Alex Maxted, Amatta Mirandari, Chris Witham, Josh Bruty, Robin Conway and all at Capital Sound, Emma Brack, Emily Collison, Jack Dryden, Greg Allen, Sunny Radley, Jack Rigby and all ATG staff; 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