THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF HIGH SCHOOL

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

ICHSA MID-ATLANTIC QUARTERFINAL

 

Cherry Hill High School East 
Saturday, March 17, 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 six semifinals that lead to the Open Finals featuring those six regional champions, a wild card champion, an international champion, and our 2017 ICHSA and ICCA Champions. Those ten groups competed at Carnegie Hall in New York City this past September.

 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

 

Rebel Yell, from Howell High School (N.J.) is one of America's oldest high school a cappella groups. Among the leaders in the pioneer days of competitive contemporary high school a cappella, Rebel Yell is, for the first time ever, an ALL-GIRL group! Continuing the traditions of pop, rock, and message songs, Rebel Yell serves New Jersey with good music, good energy, and good will! Rebel Yell is beyond honored to compete in the ICHSA each year!

REVERB is the newest a cappella group at Howell High School! Making their ICHSA debut and featuring singers ranging from freshmen to seniors, this mixed group is excited to take the stage with energy, variety, and style. REVERB is a nearly student-run aca-group, with all of its choreography, and many of its arrangements coming from inside the group. Just as exciting, team leaders manage all of the group’s business and administrative aspects in order to prepare for aca-life in college. Ladies and gentlemen, this is REVERB a cappella!

Created and directed by Heather Lockart, Cherry Hill East High School’s Stay Tuned has experienced wild success in the world of a cappella music since its inception in 2012. In addition to winning many awards over the last six years, they were selected to be featured on an eight-week Lifetime docu-series, “Pitch Slapped,” which aired during the winter of 2016. On this show, Stay Tuned was coached by music director and arranger of the “Pitch Perfect” movies, Deke Sharon. Stay Tuned has performed at the Kimmel Center, Lincoln Financial Field, and Carnegie Hall alongside the cast of the “Pitch Perfect” movies. Most recently, Stay Tuned was ranked 4th in the nation at ICHSA Finals. While the group has enjoyed such great national success, serving their community by sharing their love and passion for music with their local friends and supporters has always been their number one priority. The members of Stay Tuned are thankful for every performance opportunity and always strive to inspire and bring joy to their audiences.

The Gold 'N Blues
is the premier co-ed, contemporary a cappella group from Wissahickon High School in Ambler, Penn. They are beyond excited to be starting their musical journey and cannot wait to share their songs. The group members come from a variety of different interests and are united by a common passion for music. They aim to show people how amazing and moving music can be.The Gold 'N Blues is student-run, which creates a unique bond, since each member contributes something to its success. While performing, the ensemble likes to bring the sass (and the z-formation snaps) and have fun while doing so. When they are not rehearsing and working hard, they like to have "Four Chords" jam sessions. You will usually find them singing or grubbin' on some snacks in the stairwell by their auditorium (that they swear has the best acoustics). Even though they are new to the high school a cappella scene, The Gold 'N Blues are ready to sing their hearts out.

The Highlands Belles have made their home at Northern Highlands Regional High School. The Belles are honored to participate in another ICHSA, and are the defending 2014 ICHSA New England Regional Champions. The Belles have also competed in the SingStrong Festival in Chicago and had the privilege of singing the national anthem at the MetLife Stadium for a Jets/Patriots game. Last year, The Belles placed 3rd in their Quarterfinal, and are excited to share their hard work and perform for you tonight! They wish good luck to all the groups and  are excited to make tonight aca-awesome! Follow them on Twitter @highlandesbelles and Instagram @thehighlandsbelles

The Ram Jams is Ramsey High School's advanced vocal ensemble, auditioned out of the Ramsey High School chorus, which has performed on such stages as Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall over the past few years. In its second year, The Ram Jams is excited to be entering the competitive a cappella stage! The Ram Jams would like to thank the Ramsey community for its support in everything they do!

Vocal Forte comes from Haddon Heights Baptist Regional School in southern New Jersey, and this will be their 10th appearance in the ICHSA tournament. Vocal Forte is made up of students who love to sing and share their love of music with others in the community. They can frequently be found performing at local community events, charity functions, and church services. They have also had the honor of being featured on TV's “Pitch Slapped,” Philadelphia's 101.1 FM, and the BOHSA 2016 and 2017 albums. Vocal Forte would like to thank Varsity Vocals for running such an incredible program, and their fans for coming out to support them each and every year!

Vocal Synergy is the premier a cappella group from Dwight Morrow High School and the Academies @ Englewood in Englewood, N.J. It is composed of 22 young men and women ranging from 14 to 19 years of age. They sing a cappella locally, at school and community events, and were chosen to sing with Kenny Rogers at his Christmas Show at BergenPAC in Englewood in 2015. Their diverse musical interests range from renaissance to jazz to contemporary. Vocal Synergy is also driven to use their talents philanthropically, and for the past five years, they have been featured as a group and as soloists in an event called Cabaret for a Cause. During this time, they have raised about $7,000 for organizations including the Make a Wish Foundation, Save the Children, and a local food bank. They also break down into smaller groups for Valentine’s Day to sell sing-a-grams and donate the proceeds to Operation Smile. For this particular activity, they write their own arrangements of the songs that they perform. This year, the group is already planning an event to raise money for Puerto Rico, which suffered inconceivably from Hurricane Maria. Vocal Synergy brings a unique combination of diverse backgrounds to the stage, translating  into a passionate, enlightening, and authentic performances. They are very excited to be competing in their first ICHSA.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Gyasi Barber, a New Jersey native, completed his Master of Music in vocal performance at the New England Conservatory. There, Gyasi played Figaro in "Le Nozze di Figaro," Don Pedro De Hinoyosa in Offenbach's "La Perichole," and Ben Benny in "Paul Bunyan." Prior to that, he earned his undergraduate degree in music education from Syracuse University, and played such roles as Pish Tush in "The Mikado," Frank in Strauss' "Die Fledermaus," and Sarastro in "Die Zauberflote." Gyasi has performed as a featured soloist with the Masterworks Chorale in Boston, as the bass soloist for their annual Messiah Sing, and played Collatinus in Opera Brittenica’s production of Britten's "Rape of Lucretia.” Currently based in New York City, Gyasi performs with the Oratorio Society of New York, in addition to other small groups.

Ricky Jabarin is thrilled to be judging again for Varsity Vocals! With eight years of a cappella experience, he currently works for A Cappella Productions (ACP) as a studio production engineer and arranger. In 2012, Ricky co-founded and directed Penn State's award-winning group, The Coda Conduct. While performing with Coda, he received the Outstanding Arrangement award for the group’s entire 2015 ICCA set. Ricky also serves as admin for the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) and teaches at a cappella festivals like Boston Sings (BOSS) and NE Voices.

Jonathan Sears began singing a cappella in 1996 at Elizabethtown College with the all-male group, Phalanx. In his senior year, he led Phalanx to its first-ever ICCA showing, and a 3rd place title at Quarterfinals. This set the stage for future years, when they advanced to Semifinals and appeared on BOCA. After graduating in 2000, he performed with a number of professional a cappella groups at shows and festivals throughout North America. He is a two-time CARA nominee, first in 2000 in the Best Male Collegiate Arranger category, and again as a professional in 2005 in the Best Contemporary Pop/Rock Original Song category. He is a five-year veteran of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB), where he adjudicated over 70 a cappella albums submitted by both collegiate and professional groups. Jonathan lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with his beautiful wife Kelly and their two girls, Molly and Emma. 2018 marks Jonathan’s 12th year as an ICCA/ICHSA adjudicator, and his 22nd year as an active member of the a cappella community.

Charnice Frazier has a long-lasting relationship with music, and has been singing since she could speak. In addition to singing in choirs from middle school through college, Charnice was part of a chamber a cappella ensemble in high school called Infinity. Through this ensemble, she realized that she wanted a cappella to always be a part of her life. In the fall of 2012, Charnice joined James Madison University's premier female a cappella group, Note-oriety, and served as business manager and president during her years with them. Along with leading the group, she arranged songs and helped record their award winning album, Note-oriety. Charnice currently resides in Southern Maryland and is the choral director at Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf, Md. Outside of teaching, Charnice sings in D.C.'s newest all-female vocal group, The District, and is one of the group’s assistant music directors.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank 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 the ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Semifinal.

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