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

 

Port Washington High School
Saturday, January 27, 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 Academy Kids from Winnebago Lutheran Academy in Fond du Lac, Wis. is an extracurricular vocal band that has been totally a cappella for the past five years. They have auditioned for and competed in the Midwest ICHSA for the past four years and continually challenge themselves with each experience. While primarily focusing on contemporary a cappella music, they also enjoy performing for local Christmas parties and spring a cappella shows at Fond du Lac public and parochial grade schools.

Beloit Turner Overdrive (BTO!) is in its second year of existence at Turner High School. This extracurricular group meets before and after school twice a week, and they enjoy hanging out and bonding outside of rehearsal time. They enjoy long walks in the rain together and snuggling together by a fire. They also wear each others' clothes and finish each others'.... They are excited to watch and learn from all the other talented groups in this competition!

Graftonics, from Grafton High School in Grafton, Wis., is an audition-based, advanced ensemble specializing in unaccompanied vocal music. This ensemble is ideal for students who have a minimum of one year high school choral experience, are currently enrolled in one of the other curricular choral ensembles, and want to explore advanced choral singing in the contemporary a cappella genre. Students sing in four-part divisi harmony and focus on advanced vocal techniques specific to the genres being explored. Students continue to study advanced level music theory, sight reading skills (rhythmic and tonal), as well as stage presence and performance skills. In addition to required home performances and WMEA Music Festivals, students have the opportunity to partake in various clinic/festival choral formats with other school choral departments and perform for community functions as available.

The Insongniacs is an all-women student-directed ensemble from Appleton East High School in Appleton, Wis. They hope to empower women through their performances and to inspire more of them to join the a cappella community.

Limited Edition is an eclectic group of 16 individuals from Port Washington, Wis., ranging from sophomores to seniors. They have been performing in ICHSA since 2003, and in that time, the group has won every “Outstanding” award and won the national title in 2010. The group has advanced to the national Finals in New York City a total of five times in the past seven years. Limited Edition has been featured on compilation albums such as BOHSA and Voices Only, scoring several Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) nominations.

Midnight Voices is an all-female a cappella group in Madison, Wis. Combining members from area high schools, Midnight Voices rehearses twice a week and performs at many events. They've opened for Vocalosity, sang for the Milwaukee Bucks, and performed at the Madison Area Music Awards. They are excited to be back at ICHSA!

Reign is an all-male a cappella group from the great state of Iowa. Hailing from the land of Hawkeyes and Cyclones, the gentlemen of Reign are happy to back at ICHSA, in which they typically compete every few years. In 2015, they earned a 3rd place finish in the Midwest Semifinals and they’re excited for another shot. Blending together current and classic tunes, Reign loves to entertain the students of Valley High School with sweet melodies, awesome harmonies, a splash of fun, and occasional “organized movement” of a certain quality. A fixture in West Des Moines, the group enjoys entertaining audiences of all ages throughout the community. They are blessed to share a stage with such fantastic groups from the region and they hope you enjoy the performance.

The Treblesome Teens from Hortonville High School in Hortonville, Wis. is an auditioned group featuring many talented singers coming from all parts of the school. Group members range from football and cross country athletes to bible study leaders, student leaders, and band/choir students! The Treblesome Teens began in 2015 as a small group of best friends who enjoyed making music together, but quickly became so much more. Now, they perform at school concerts, church events and basically for anyone who asks! This has become one of the closest friend groups in the school, and they believe that the bond shared among its members helps their music in the utmost positive way. This past year, this group became an official school club, and they’ve expanded to 14 members, including a new tenor, soprano, and alto. The group covers the board of music styles, including pop, R&B, and barbershop, and they love continually trying new things and giving themselves a challenge! As a student-led group, their high energy and ambition to perform well makes up for the absence of an official director. They are so grateful for this amazing opportunity to share their music with others and to do something great with the group!

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Amy J. Branahl has been teaching choral music for 14 years at the high school and middle school levels. She is one of the choral directors at New Trier High School. Additionally, Amy is artistic director of the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago (YCT), a community-based after-school program that enrolls 75 young people in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Amy graduated from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) with a B.M.E. and M.M.E. in choral music education (voice/piano). An avid arranger, she started arranging music during her time at the University of Illinois. Amy serves as an adjudicator for the ICCA and ICHSA with Varsity Vocals and has been active in the contemporary a cappella scene. Amy has been the guest conductor for several music festivals, notably the 2011 Illinois Music Educators Association District VII Junior High Music Festival, the 2014 District 300 Junior High Chorus Festival, and was chosen to vocal direct this year’s Illinois High School Theater Festival All-state Show, “Sweeney Todd.” She is an active member of American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, NafME, and is serving on the Executive Board as the Illinois State Treasurer for IL-ACDA. Amy and her husband Jared have three beautiful boys and reside in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

Kimberly Raschka Sailor
is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB), and she has written more than 300 reviews of high school, collegiate, and professional groups since 2005. A former ICCA Finalist, Kimberly is the co-founder and past president of the University of Southern California's Reverse Osmosis. Kimberly has also served as a CARA nominator and judge. In addition to volunteering in the a cappella community, Kimberly is an author and elected school board member for the Mount Horeb Area School District in Wisconsin.

Jordan Henderson 
graduated from Illinois State University in December 2015 with a degree in vocal music education. As a student, she was a four-year member of the all-female a cappella group, Secondary Dominance, and held leadership positions including choreographer, vice president, and president. Jordan is currently in her second year as a vocal music teacher, having begun her teaching career at Naperville North High School in 2016. She is in her first year teaching at West Aurora High School in Aurora, Ill., and remains the assistant director for the show choirs at Naperville North High School, Entourage and High Heeled Harmony.

Luke Dutelle
is an a cappella enthusiast hailing from Madison, Wis., where he graduated with a vocal performance degree. Luke was a member of the all-male group Fundamentally Sound for his four years of undergrad, and music-directed the group for his final three years. As music director, he led workshops at a cappella festivals, was an award-winning and RARB-recognized arranger, and helped guide FS to three ICCA Semifinal finishes, as well as a CARA-nominated album. Luke works as a professional a cappella arranger and is pursuing a career in sound engineering.


SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Dennis Gephart, Port Washington Administration and Community, Alex Kreuger, and 5 am a cappella; 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