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 SEMIFINAL

 

DeKalb High School
Saturday, March 10, 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

 

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 ICHSA 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.

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.

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.

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!

Viva Voce is an all-female a cappella group from Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis, Mo. Founded in 2016, Viva Voce is a musically talented, highly dedicated group of high school girls who come together to share their love of a cappella music with their peers and community. Currently, Viva Voce has 16 members with a variety of different interests, from ping-pong to computer science, but they unite through a common love of a cappella music. Outside of rehearsals, you can find Viva Voce sharing their music all over St. Louis.

KC A Cappella is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing a unique educational and musical experience for high school students around the Kansas City Metropolitan area. This organization houses the contemporary vocal a cappella group, SoundProof, in which ensemble members are introduced to the world of contemporary vocal a cappella and given the opportunity to grow as performers, vocalists, and musicians.

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.

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.

Vocal Point is a 15-member, auditioned, a cappella vocal band based out of Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School, in Galesville, Wis. Previously dubbed Vocal Jazz, they took a new name in preparation for Interkultur's "World Choir Games," back in July 2012. Vocal Point has participated in the ICHSA for the past three years, finishing among the top 20 groups in the country each year and consistently receiving awards for Outstanding Soloist and Outstanding Vocal Percussion. In 2015, they were invited to take part in the first ever a cappella festival at Carnegie Hall, hosted by Deke Sharon, musical producer of the “Pitch Perfect” movies. In the spring of 2017, they won the ICHSA Wild Card round and were one of nine groups in the country competing at Finals in New York. Vocal Point placed 3rd and Ethan Giles took home the Outstanding Vocal Percussion award.

Founded in the fall of 2015, The Accidentals is an a cappella from Southwest Christian High School in Chaska, Minn. After a successful first season on campus, the group became an official part of the SWCHS music department and curriculum. Besides the obvious musical connotation, the group's name refers to how it started almost "by accident," on the whim of a few students who wanted to sing in an a cappella group and started asking around for members. The group performs at all the SWCHS music events and travels to schools and churches, sharing their "happy accident" with anyone who will listen.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Aubrey Malito is delighted to be judging these talented groups! Aubrey attended Illinois State University for musical theatre and music business, and served as music director for the women’s a cappella group, Secondary Dominance. After graduation, Aubrey performed in musicals and cabarets in New York, and worked in house management for six Broadway shows. She continued to arrange a cappella music, and even was commissioned by the cast of “Jersey Boys” to arrange a piece for their Hall & Oates concert to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Since returning to Chicago, Aubrey has been an active performer and teacher. She recently graduated summa cum laude from Saint Xavier University with a degree in choral music education, and has gone on to direct choirs, musical theatre voice, and theatre at high schools across Chicago, including Whitney M. Young, Plainfield South, Carl Sandburg, and Marist High Schools. She also maintains a private voice and piano studio. Aubrey is represented by Lily’s Talent. 

Deepak Kumar entered the a cappella community as a freshman at the University of Michigan, when he joined Maize Mirchi A Cappella, the South Asian a cappella group on campus. Throughout his time in college, he became heavily involved in a cappella, both within the context of Mirchi and in the greater Michigan a cappella scene. He joined the Michigan A Cappella Council (MACC) executive board in order to enable a stronger sense of community across groups at the university. As a member of Maize Mirchi, he pushed the group to invest more in the a cappella community. As music director, Deepak aimed put Maize Mirchi on the map as a group that could bring South Asian a cappella to major venues (like the ICCA) and still create relatable and enjoyable musical experiences. Throughout college, he wrote arrangements for other college groups (UMD Anokha) and high school groups across the country, and continues to arrange for groups on request. Deepak is excited at the opportunity to be a judge for this ICCA season.

Edric Mitchell, a 2014 and 2016 graduate from Ball State University, studied musical theatre and executive development for public services. During his time at Ball State, he got his start in a cappella with the all-male group, Charlie's Angels. He quickly became a founding member of the all-male a cappella group, Note to Self, with whom he spent four years as a member, coordinator, and music director. In addition, Edric was a founding member and music director of Sedoctave, and founder of the Association of Collegiate A Cappella (ACA) at Ball State. ACA is an umbrella organization that unites all collegiate a cappella groups on the BSU Campus, and hopes to eventually expand to other college campuses. When Edric was a competitor in the ICCA, he received two Outstanding Arrangement awards for "Can You Stand The Rain" and "Recovery Stitches," as well as an Outstanding Soloist award with Walter Edwards for "Smash Your Apology." He is currently the vocal music director at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, Ind.

Heather Newkirk is a proud alumna of Syracuse University's Main Squeeze, for whom she sang, arranged, choreographed, and did vocal percussion. Since graduating, Heather has remained active in the a cappella world as social media coordinator for BOSS, Program Manager of Social Media for the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA), associate producer of Voices Only, and an instructor for workshops and masterclasses at a cappella festivals nationwide. She has won ICCA awards for Outstanding Arrangement and Outstanding Vocal Percussion as a college student, and Varsity Vocals has held a special place in her heart ever since. 

Amy J. Branahl has been teaching choral music for 15 years at the high school and middle school levels. Currently, she is a choral director at New Trier High School and artistic director of the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago (YCT), a community-based after-school program that enrolls 75 young people in Chicago’s North Shore. Amy graduated from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) with a B.M.E. and M.M.E. in choral music education. Amy remains involved in the contemporary a cappella scene as an adjudicator for the ICCA and ICHSA with Varsity Vocals, and as an active member of American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, and NafME. Amy and her husband have three beautiful boys and reside in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Best of luck to all the groups tonight!

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank 
Angel Smith, Travis Erikson, Bryan Miller of ACP, Brian Allen, Robert Tyree Photography, Jake Hackl, The Illinois State Acafellaz, the DeKalb High School Staff and Administration, Alex Kreuger, Jacob Henry, Trent Snyder, and Robin Hackl; 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 placing group advances to ICHSA Finals!

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