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

 

South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center 
Saturday, Februrary 3, 2018

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

We're talking about this event, and all of our events around the world!

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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 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 Loyola Academy Acafellas of Wilmette, Ill., pride themselves on their fun demeanor and suave singing. The Acafellas bring an unmatched charm and love of music to every performance. Competing for the first time, The Acafellas aim to share their magnetic singing with a new audience!

Delta V (V as in the letter) is the equation for a rocket, as well as a family of gentlemen who sing together. This dynamic group from South Milwaukee High School works towards success through perseverance and being there for one another. Delta V is a home for this a cappella group, in which they work and have fun, whether through rockin' beatbox sessions or questionable dance moves. With their state-of-the-art wooden microphones, squeaky pig mascots, and love of songs about pineapples, they are ready for anything. They hope you enjoy their performance as much as they enjoy being onstage. 

Hailing from Niles West High School in Skokie, Ill., Echo Effect features male vocalists who bring urban, rock, and cutting-edge influences to vocal music. Their energetic humor, versatile choreography, and diverse personalities combine to create a genuine and hard-hitting a cappella performance you will never forget. This is Echo Effect's 10th year competing at ICHSA.

This is Incognito’s fourth year of existence and third year of participating in competitions. The group name comes from the way the group was formed. They met in secret outside of all normal rehearsal times and picked up the name Incognito as they went. This year, the group has grown in size with many new members, and they are excited to be diving into this world. As a primarily choral and show choir school, this is a different foray for the group, but they are loving it.

Knight Club a cappella, hailing from Oak Creek High School, is thrilled to be competing in its third ICHSA competition. Along with Ladies Knight (also competing tonight), the group is one of two a cappella ensembles at Oak Creek High School. These dedicated singers bring intensity and enthusiasm to their work, and strives to find and share important messages of hope, humility, and friendship through their  create. The members of Knight Club pride themselves on their storytelling. Their set tonight touches on themes of bullying, resilience, and community. They hope their story will inspire kindness. They invite you to lean in, be inspired, and MAKE SOME NOISE!

Sometimes all you need is a Ladies Knight. In this case, Ladies Knight is a group of 14 women, living it up in the world of a cappella. They are from Oak Creek High School and meet daily in their chamber choir class in combination with Knight Club. Tonight, the ladies will be performing a powerful set that emphasizes female empowerment, healing, and unity. They encourage you to whoop, holler, and get hyped, because here comes Ladies Knight! When they say “Ladies,” you say “Knight!” Ladies [Knight]! Ladies! [Knight]!”

Minor Renovation is in its very first year at Buffalo Grove High School, founded in the fall of 2017. Minor Renovation has 18 members ranging from sophomores to seniors. Minor Renovation is very excited to embark on this new era, competing in its first ICHSA season.

Nothin' but Treble of Wilmette, Ill. consists of Loyola Academy's most dedicated female vocalists and includes freshmen through seniors. In addition to producing a full dynamic sound, these vocal powerhouses are like sisters. The members of Nothin' but Treble distinguish themselves by creating profound art and capturing audiences with their bubbly personalities. These vocalists hope to share their love of music while showing they are qualified competitors.

The PopRockets is an all-female group from South Milwaukee High School, and they are pumped to return to ICHSA for their fifth straight year! The girls have created a beautiful bond through their music, and hope their performance is emotionally moving as well as entertaining. Though each PopRocket comes from a different facet of the school, they all connect through their music, and hope to inspire their audience to connect with them. 

Unaccompanied Minors is a brand-new group from Brookfield East High School. Brookfield East is a suburban high school located in the Greater Milwaukee area of Wisconsin. Inspired by the rise of high school a cappella groups and a lack of competitive groups in the area, juniors Emma Jester and Macy Gardner took on the challenge of starting their own. After a week-long audition process this past Spring, they found 14 talented young vocalists for their group. Unaccompanied Minors is a completely student-led group and regular rehearsals consist of bagels, sectionals, more bagels, and random outbursts of "High School Musical" karaoke. The group values teamwork, but also encourages individual growth and practice. Each individual member has a passion for music within a variety of arenas and have all found one another through a cappella. While they all have different voice parts and musical backgrounds, at the end of the day every voice is heard, needed, and valued to create the artistic expression of a cappella.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

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 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (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.

Laura Kruschke has been involved in a cappella since her collegiate days at University of Wisconsin Madison, singing with the all-female group, Tangled Up in Blue, while earning her degree in instrumental music education. Back then, she served as the group's primary vocal percussionist, music arranger, and director. After graduation, Laura had the opportunity to help launch the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL). After a whirlwind trip to San Francisco for an inspiring weekend with other like-minded aca-people, she returned to Madison and founded greenTONE A Cappella in fall 2007. gT is 10 members strong today, and sings for a wide variety of local events including weddings, holiday parties, fundraisers, and flash mobs. Laura is still involved with CAL today, serving as the organization's membership coordinator. Laura has also offered her expertise to local high school choirs through vocal percussion workshops, clinician opportunities, and group coaching. In addition to aca-involvement, Laura also arranges music for high school show choir, sings and plays saxophone in a local cover band, teaches yoga, and helps her three young children remember their F-sharps while practicing piano.

Molly Pufall-Brown is happy to be part of the ICHSA tournament for the first time. She was a member of the Millikin University OneVoice group that won the ICCA Champion title in 2004. She holds an M.M. from Northern Illinois University and taught full-time at the collegiate level for eight years in Milwaukee, Wis. She currently works at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and directs a church choir in Brookfield, Wis. Molly is also a founding member of The Marion Consort, a professional Chicago-based early music ensemble. She thrives on educating people about the art and aesthetics of singing with others, particularly in small ensembles.

Anna Corbett 
attended the University of Oregon and was part of the founding generation of Divisi, the school’s all-female a cappella group. Since graduating, she has continued her involvement in a cappella as a team member of the Women’s A Cappella Association (WACA), helping to put on their annual festival, SheSings, as well as participating in various bands and vocal music projects in the Portland, Oregon area. While she is in the book Pitch Perfect, none of the characters in the subsequent movies are specifically based on her. She is currently pursuing her J.D. at Chicago-Kent College of Law and is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as a judge for Varsity Vocals.

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 Robin Hackl, Jacob Henry, Lee Stovall, Rachel Sorce, Nick DaVia, the South Milwaukee High School Staff and Administration, and our amazing parent volunteers; 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