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 MIDWEST QUARTERFINAL

 

DeKalb High School
Sunday, February 10, 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 #harmonics from Guilford High School are so excited to be back at ICHSA! Rockford's very first a cappella group, The #harmonics is in its third year of existence, and also its largest, with 19 members strong! They are excited to share their set tonight, featuring a thoughtful story about bullies and the challenges people face and overcome in those situations. They hope to tell a familiar story, but also one with hope. Please watch as the lyrics and choreography unfold to tell this beautiful story. They hope you enjoy the show!

The Blenders started 10 years ago as an honors group at Clinton High School. Since this time, the group has evolved to add pop a cappella to its format and they've  been having fun ever since. They meet daily for first hour at school and it's a great way to wake up!

Drown Out a cappella choir is the elite ensemble of vocalists at Edison Jr. Sr. High School in Lake Station, Ind. A cappella is a new style of music for the Edison music department, as this group has only been in existence since the winter of 2016. All of the Drown Out performers dedicate their time and talents to multiple sports and clubs in the school, but come together twice a week to rehearse as an ensemble. Drown Out is already a highlight among the performance groups at Edison Jr. Sr. High School, and they are continuing to gain fans within the community of Lake Station.

Enharmonic Fusion is a mixed a cappella ensemble from DeKalb High School in DeKalb, Ill. Established in 2010, they advanced to ICHSA Finals that first year and again in 2012, 2015, and 2016. In 2017, they were named Midwest Semifinal champions and placed 2nd overall at ICHSA Finals. When not rehearsing or performing, they enjoy spending free time getting ice-cream and listening to a cappella jams. They also enjoy hearing Mr. Erikson gently remind them to clean up their water bottles and music binders. They would like to send a huge thanks to everyone who helped them prepare for this event and to their friends and family for support. They would also like to thank Varsity Vocals for the opportunity to participate and for the amazing experiences they have had in ICHSA over the past 11 years.

Guys & Dolls is from Niles West High School in Skokie, Ill. The group features 15 vocalists who bring melodies of classic and contemporary genres to the stage. This unique mixed a cappella group brings an all-embracing appreciation for music from all across the world, and their performance will have you on your feet! This will be Guys & Dolls' fifth year returning to ICHSA.

Hawkappella is currently the only a cappella group in its school district. The group formed four years ago and has learned more about performing competitively in each year since. Above all else, this fun, goofy group of students loves music and one another. They're here to have a good time and invite you to share in their fun!

High Fidelity is an all-girl a cappella group from Niles West High School in Skokie, Ill. These dazzling dames have been wowing audiences with their dynamic voices for years. This group of 14 powerhouse divas is in formation and ready to take your breath away!

This the the inaugural year for the Lockport Township High School's Off The Record. This energetic and talented group of 10th-12th graders is ready to take the contemporary a cappella world by storm.

VHS (Vocal Harmonies Supplied) consists of the sassiest, most talented group of ladies at Urbana High School. They will blow you away with their velvety R&B-infused sound, and remind you why you shouldn't write off female a cappella groups.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Antonio Rodriguez graduated in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in music from Washington University in St. Louis, where he sang with The Amateurs for four years. He also served as arranger and music director of the group. He spent the next five years performing as a stage actor in St. Louis before gaining his union card and moving to Chicago in 2014. Favorite past musical credits include “The Who’s Tommy” (Tommy Walker), “Urinetown” (Bobby Strong), and “Altar Boyz” (Matthew). He was a member of the St. Louis Theatre Circle Award-winning ensemble of the a cappella musical “All is Calm” for three years, and is a four-time nominee and two-time Theatre Circle Award winner for his individual acting work in both musicals and straight plays. In addition to performing in full-length stage works, he has conceived and performed two solo cabarets in both St. Louis and Chicago. Antonio is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Liz Hutchinson earned her bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 2011 and a master's degree in music education from DePaul University in 2015. While completing her undergraduate work, Liz was an active member of the choral music and a cappella communities, performing with many university ensembles and serving as music director of The Illinois Rip Chords. She is the recipient of several scholarships and awards, including the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award at Illinois and the Graduate Music Education Scholarship at DePaul. This is Liz’s sixth year as choral director and music theory teacher at West Aurora High School, in Aurora, Ill., where she leads a choral department of over 250 singers and nine choirs. She is a performer in the Chicago area, singing with the TVK Orchestra and An Octave Above A Cappella. Liz is also a freelance arranger and has created custom a cappella arrangements for several high school choral groups in the Midwest. She currently resides in Oak Park, Ill. with her husband Andrew (also a choral director) and their pitbull, Chuck. 

Cory Ellis is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, where he studied music education, performance, and music industry leadership. He is a founding member and former musical director of The NIU Huskie Hunks, the first all-male a cappella group on campus. Cory led The Hunks to perform at the VoiceJam A Cappella Festival in Arizona, as well as the National A Cappella Convention in Tennessee. In addition to his a cappella contributions to NIU, Cory was also the head drum major of The Pride of the Midwest, the Huskie marching band, and a member of the world-renowned NIU Steelband.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Angel Smith, Travis Erikson, Brian Allen, Trent Snyder, Alex Krueger, ACP, the DeKalb High School Administration and Community, Grace Klonoski, and Ian Panke; 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 Midwest 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