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 SOUTH QUARTERFINAL

 

Cypress Lake High School
Saturday, February 10, 2018

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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 Accidentals of Pine View School live two doors down from the chorus room, in the stairwell connecting the upper elementary portion of the building with the music department below. Their practices are concerts for the stream of little ones headed downstairs as they end the day. The concrete steps make their voices echo as if we were in a concert hall. There, every day after school, they bring their lunch to come and make music. They’ll sing whatever songs that they can get their hands on, but of course, there are different preferences among the 11-person group. Josie and Emily will always fight about doing a rock or pop song next. Eva will make sure that things don’t get too out of hand. Occasionally, James or Alana will throw together an arrangement. Danny wears cool socks. But this is only about half of who they are. The group has recently faced some hard times; with Hurricane Irma preventing them from getting together for two weeks and the ensuing catch-up game with school, they could only muster up six members for their ICHSA audition. They are grateful to be performing all together tonight. As a student-run, spontaneously-formed group, The Accidentals love what they do and want to do more. Give them a chance, and they’ll give you their best.

After School Specials is an exciting group of 20 singers. They attend Palm Harbor University High School in Pinellas County. Under the direction of the irreplaceable Mr. Justin Havard, they are elated to be returning to ICHSA after progressing to Semifinals last year. The After School Specials enjoy singing for nursing home residents, entertaining innocent bystanders, and rocking out some Christmas carols! The After School Specials’ signature sound demonstrates a mix of pop and rock music, with a quirky twist that's all their own!

PAWCAPPELLA, H.B. Plant's co-ed group, is the high school's original adventure into a cappella. Founded three years ago, this year's version still boasts two of its founding members. Though the cast changes annually, the group strives to continually create new, innovative a cappella. Attacking genres from 40s’ standards to the most contemporary of contemporary Billboard's Hot 100, PAWCAPPELLA values quality over quantity, creating innovative arrangements beyond the typical shoo bee doo oo lala. PAWCAPPELLA performs all over the Tampa Bay area, headlining Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's Christmas gala, gracing Walt Disney World stages, Busch Gardens stages, school events, and even opening for Rockapella. PAWCAPPELLA is delighted to be back performing at this year's ICHSA event. PAWS UP!

The Pink Panthers is Plant High School's all-female student-led a cappella ensemble. Their musical influences range from Beyoncé to Celine Dión, and you can recognize a Pink Panther by their pink Converse shoes. If you want them to focus, just yell, "PINEAPPLE!"

Put your fins up for The Ponte Vedra High School Sharkappellas! Whether making chocolate balls, having their own riff-offs, or roasting marshmallows around the campfire, this group of 20 unique artists shares one common goal to make music. Despite their differences, these singers bond by creatively expressing themselves together. They try to tell a story with their songs, and hope you enjoy the journey as much as they do. Their favorite quote is "Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."

The A Cappella Group is celebrating 15 years of amazing music this year. Highlights by the numbers include three ICHSA Finals appearances, 10 studio albums, six Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) wins, 26 CARA nominations, two Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB) Favorite Albums of the Year, four RARB Favorite Tracks of the Year, two appearances at NACC in Memphis, one appearance at SoJam, and two appearances at The Betsy A Cappella Festival. The group is very excited to continue the long history of TAG and looks forward to meeting and singing with all of tonight's groups.

Vocal Society is Trinity Preparatory School’s select high school vocal ensemble. This group performs in various campus concerts and events, is regularly invited to perform for Central Florida Honor Choirs, and is a repeat-performing choir in Walt Disney World’s Candlelight Processional. After a performance tour in Germany and Austria in spring 2017, Vocal Society is elated to begin the journey into a cappella competitions. This well-rounded ensemble is composed of varsity sports athletes, all-star cheerleaders, wakeboard champions, Honor Society tutors, history bowl members, student government leaders, and music arrangers, just to name a few. Their many talents combine to bring an eclectic and dynamic synergy on stage. This family thrives on the joy of making music, and takes the process of performance and music excellence seriously. Vocal Society truly appreciates the patronage from their TPS family and are thankful for their support on this new adventure!


GUEST PERFORMER


Founded in 2016, Gestalt has sought to invigorate the a cappella community. The vocal unit made its debut at The Betsy’s A Cappella Festival in 2016, performing at the Colony Theater here in Miami Beach. Last January, they started production on their first studio album, Beyond the Archetype, which is now available on Spotify and iTunes! The sets curated for this year are heavily inspired by the gestalt theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Through arrangement strategies and deliberate staging, this concept is infused into their every performance. Gestalt is proud to have already performed at two festivals this year and to be doing an East Coast Tour this spring. Dynamic voices, dynamic people #dvdp @GestaltACappella

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Lauren Wilson is a current graduate student at the University of Miami, where she is pursuing a Master of Music in music business and entertainment industries. She is also a recent graduate of Michigan State University, where she majored in marketing and ,media & information. At Michigan State, she was the music director of Ladies First, the school’s only all-female group. As music director, she led the group to perform in showcases, place at ICCA events, and earn recognition for their latest EP, Run This Show. She is currently the vocal percussionist and founder of Revel, a new all-female vocal band. The group made its debut at The Open in 2017, where Lauren also took home the award for Outstanding Vocal Percussion. She is also currently the vocal percussion instructor and Director of Marketing for A Cappella University. She served as a production assistant with Varsity Vocals, interned with the The Vocal Company, and hopes to continue her career in a cappella!

Kevin Trapasso has spent the last eight years in the world of a cappella and ICCA. While majoring in choral music education at Arizona State University, he helped found the school’s first all-male a cappella group, create an annual statewide a cappella festival, and eventually led this group to a Quarterfinal win in his senior year. Since then, he has moved to Florida and earned a master’s degree in choral conducting. He currently teaches chorus for grades 6-12 in Polk County, and directs an a cappella group at University of South Florida. He is so pleased to judge the very competition that helped him grow tremendously as a musician and educator, and looks forward to a great night of music!

Ryan Ellis is a jazz pianist and Director of Vocal Music at Miami Arts Studio, an up and coming public arts magnet school in Miami, Fla. Ryan received his Bachelor of Music from the University of Miami and his Master of Music Education from Florida International University. After five years as the Director of Bands at Miami Southridge High School, he switched to Director of Choral Music at John A. Ferguson Senior High School. There, his advanced chorus, The Falcon Singers, performed throughout the U.S., with concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, and New York. This included three concerts at Carnegie Hall in 2009, 2011, and 2014, in which the group performed the world premiere of “Nou Se Limye” by Haitian composer Sydney Guillaume. Since 2004, his ensembles have earned superior ratings at district assessments. In March 2018, Ryan will return to Carnegie Hall with his top ensemble from Miami Arts Studio. As a professional jazz pianist, Ryan has worked extensively in the Caribbean, Florida, and Hawaii, performing with a who's who of jazz, including Kevin Mahogany, Eddie Jones, Paul Brown, Leon Foster Thomas, Bobby Ramirez, Ira Sullivan, and Bobby Dukoff.

Cindy Ellis has performed in a variety of venues, ranging from local restaurants and bars to large performing arts centers. She a frequent guest performer with notable recording artists such as Wendy Pedersen, Jim Gasior, and Lisanne Lyons. Recently, she performed in Miami's Gusman Center alongside a who's who of Latin recording artists for producer Tony Succar's "Unity: a Tribute to Michael Jackson" event. Cindy received her Bachelor of Music from Florida International University. Currently, Cindy is a full-time vocal director and teaches eight classes at Miami Arts Studio 6-12 at Zelda Glazer, including two a cappella ensembles. Her top ensemble, SoFlo Harmony, will be a featured ensemble at Carnegie Hall on March 4.

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 South 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