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

 

Northern Highlands Regional High School 
Saturday, January 20, 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

 

The Ridgewood High School AcaBellas, established in 2011, is competing in the ICHSA competition for its fifth straight year. In 2015, The AcaBellas placed 3rd in the Quarterfinals and 4th in Semifinals.

Highlands Voices is from Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, N.J. “The Voices,” as they are called around the school, were featured on Season 1 of Lifetime’s “Pitch Slapped.” They were the winners of the first-ever National A Cappella Convention Competition in 2015, consecutive ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Champions from 2011-2016, and ICHSA 2014 National Champions. They have performed in workshops for NAfME, NJMEA, and Bergen Teen Arts, and they host the Highlands A Cappella Festival each year. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube @highlandsvoices.

The Ridgewood High School Maroon Men, established in 2010, is competing in the ICHSA competition for the sixth time. In 2015, The Maroon Men won Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals, plus awards for Outstanding Soloist and Outstanding Vocal Percussion. In addition to singing sweet harmonies with the boys, each member of The Maroon Men can bench press 250 pounds.

The Nightingales is an all-female student-run a cappella group from Ridgefield High School that performs at various school-sponsored, town-sponsored, and private events. They focus on building community among talented women. Their Sunday morning rehearsals are more than just singing; they eat breakfast together and confide in one another, sharing their lives in hopes of promoting a stronger group bond. They hope to demonstrate the value of this connection to anyone who listens to their arrangements and songs.

Coming from Cresskill, N.J., Cresskill High School’s Note-oriety is the school’s 13-member women’s a cappella group. Since they began 2015, the singers of Note-oriety have honed their craft by participating in school district shows, concerts, and other community events, all while spreading positive messages in every performance. They hope that each person they reach will pay it forward and help the group continue spreading positivity throughout the world. A huge thank you to everyone who helped and supported the group over the last two years.

The Mahopac High School PACapellas are thrilled to be return to the ICHSA stage for another exciting season. They are very active in their community, performing at charity and community events ranging from Relay for Life to feature performances at Daryl's House and 12 Grapes. In addition to singing, many students in this group self-arrange and play a variety of instruments.

The Seventh Street Singers is a co-ed a cappella group hailing from Connetquot High School in Bohemia, N.Y. (specifically on Seventh Street!). The Seventh Street Singers' roster has always been large for an a cappella group because rather than an after-school club, the group is actually a class that students can audition to take. In addition to performing at school events and concerts, "Seventh Street" can often be found roaming their school halls in search of stairwells with the best acoustics. They have dubbed their favorite stairwell "the shower" because, well, who doesn't sound amazing in the shower? The Seventh Street Singers have competed in the ICHSA for the past three years and look forward to their fourth. They hope the judges will "remember the address for sounds so sweet - Seventh Street!"

Cresskill High School’s SoundXplosion from Cresskill, N.J. is the school’s 15-member mixed a cappella group. Formerly a chamber vocal group, SoundXplosion transitioned and evolved into a year-round contemporary a cappella ensemble in 2014, participating in school district shows, concerts, and other community events. SoundXplosion competed in the ICHSA in 2014 and 2015, and participated in Lifetime’s 2016 television show, “Pitch Slapped.” These singers are passionate about making the world a better place while sharing the gift of music with all!

The Unaccompanied Minors of Columbia High School began in April 2011 as a one-song project. In the seven years since that humble beginning, this group has grown into a 24-voice, three-ensemble a cappella army that performs custom arrangements of popular music throughout New Jersey and beyond. The group is proud of its member-driven, collaborative rehearsals, with all songs arranged by Ms. Bunce, students, and alumni of the program. The Unaccompanied Minors’ public appearances have included music conventions, multiple performances of the national anthem at nationally televised Red Bull games, and a guest appearance on Lifetime’s “Pitch Slapped.” In January 2016, they took 1st place at their ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinal.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

After winning the ICHSA championship title in 2010 with Limited Edition, Brian Brammer went on to earn his B.M. in commercial vocal performance from Belmont University in 2014. Brian has been performing professionally around the United States and Europe for nearly a decade, including work at theme parks, corporate events, industrials, and cruise ships. Brian was a member of the ensemble, Company, at Belmont University for three years, which sings both a cappella and accompanied music. Brian has studied and worked on jazz music with many renowned directors and arrangers in the industry, including Steve Zegree, Kirby Shaw, and Sandra Dudley. 

William Horton got his start in a cappella competing in the Alpharetta High School talent show with a group called The Alpha Males, and he hasn't stopped performing and arranging since. While attending Harvard, he served as music director and primary arranger of The Veritones, leading the group to its first ICCA competition. After college, he joined The Workshop, a post-collegiate a cappella group in New York City. In addition to working days as a software product engineer, Will arranges professionally for groups across the country, and can occasionally be seen singing a Broadway number or two in some of New York’s cabaret venues. 

Dubbed “the next generation of a cappella specialist” by “Pitch Perfect” and “The Sing-Off” vocal producer, Deke Sharon, Kari Francis is an avid vocalist, composer, and educator. Based in New York, Kari has shared the stage with Taylor Swift at the American Country Music Awards, collaborated with Imogen Heap in her “Earth” project concert series, and competed on Season 3 of NBC’s “The Sing-Off” with Kinfolk 9. Kari studied composition with Lei Liang and Chinary Ung at UC San Diego and conducting with Mark Scatterday and Brad Lubman at the Eastman School of Music. She taught musicianship classes through the Eastman Community Music School, and was assistant conductor to the Eastman Women's Chorus and the Amadeus Children’s Choir Chorale. Following her time at Eastman, Kari was a Conducting Fellow at the Young People's Chorus of New York City. She directs "The Art of A Cappella" at CUNY Hunter College, an ensemble-class dedicated to exploring, arranging, and performing contemporary a cappella music. In addition to her vocal projects, Kari has been an active lecturer and clinician since 2009. She routinely gives workshops on musicianship, arranging, and vocal percussion at music festivals and vocal camps across the U.S. Kari graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from UC San Diego and holds an M.A. in music education from the Eastman School. Find her online at acappellaprofessor.com 

Carolyn Kiel has been singing and arranging a cappella music for 14 years. She got her a cappella start with The Vassar College Night Owls, and performed for nine years with The MetropoliTones in New York. Carolyn has recorded five a cappella albums and performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, and Giants Stadium. She has sung for such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, Zach Galifinakis, and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. By day, Carolyn works in corporate training and talent management, where she uses her newly-earned master's degree in industrial/organizational psychology. Her other skills include songwriting, vocal percussion, and driving in Manhattan.

Elie Landau is a Tony and Emmy-nominated theatre and film producer. He currently serves as Executive Producer at Triptyk Studios, where he oversees the company's slate of theatre, film, and television projects in development and production. He a Founding Partner of Ergo Entertainment, currently represented on Broadway by Steve Martin's "Meteor Shower," starring Amy Schumer, Keegan-Michael Key, Laura Benanti, and Jeremy Shamos. He is also a co-producer of numerous other Broadway shows including "Speed-the-Plow," "You're Welcome America," "The Homecoming," and "November," and several films, including the award-winning documentary "Paper Clips." Select prior management credits include the Broadway productions of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (and served as Executive Producer of its Grammy-nominated original cast recording), "Lucky Guy," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "Seminar," "The Addams Family," "Red," and "Spamalot." He is a member of The Broadway League and the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers (ATPAM). In his past life, he performed with several a cappella and choral ensembles and remains actively involved in the a cappella community as a master clinician, competition judge, awards nominator and voter, concert host, and music critic, with more than 300 album reviews published by the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB).

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 two placing groups advance to the ICHSA Mid-Atlantic 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