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! 


Amanda Newman
Executive Director



R.J. Reynolds Auditorium 
Saturday, March 3, 2018



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




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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



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.



You've heard of sforzando, you've heard of crescendo, and this is CRESCENLOE, a completely student-run a cappella group from Enloe High School in Raleigh, N.C. Established in 2015, this group has grown to become the diverse team of hardworking musicians you see today! Group members come from all high school grades, and encompass musical skills such as songwriting, musical theatre, and Indian drums. The group is infused with excitement and skills from all over the musical world. With members of the marching band, classical singers, a beatboxer-bass, and many arrangers, they showcase their members’ individual skills and have brought their innovative sound to stages all over North Carolina. They were honored to perform at UNCG and NC State in their first year of operation! They pride themselves in their ability to cooperate, learn music, and perform at elite levels of musicality and professionalism. As Crescenloe continues to grow, they hope to reach more and more people with their music. As a group, they love to shock their audiences with cool choreography and intelligent arrangements, but when given the opportunity, they will pour our hearts and souls onto any stage.

InToneNation is an award winning contemporary a cappella group from New Manchester High School. They specialize in contemporary pop music, but also sing a variety of genres from jazz, to classical, to musical theatre. 

Keynote A Cappella has made its mark on the heart of the Carolinas at Western Harnett High School of Lillington, N.C. This newly emerged group prides itself on its combination of small size and smooth, dynamic sound. They are excited to compete in the ICHSA tournament for the first time!

Looking for Treble is an all-female a cappella group from Western Alamance High School in Elon, N.C. Formed in December 2014, LfT was created to help female students branch out in the world of music and work to create something bigger than themselves. While most members are enrolled in chorus classes of different levels, LfT helps them grow as musicians in a way that they cannot within the classroom. By collaborating with singers of different backgrounds and experience levels, all of the group members are able to evolve as individuals and ensemble members. Since LfT's debut performance in May 2015, they have competed in ICHSA and a local competition, placing 2nd in the latter. They recently recorded their first single, "Life is a Highway," which can be found on iTunes, Spotify, and other digital avenues. They cannot wait to share more exciting developments from the group this year!

Pitch Please is a contemporary a cappella group from Northwood High School in Pittsboro, N.C. These 16 auditioned singers rehearse twice a week after school under the direction of Northwood Choral Director, Matt Hanson. Last year, Pitch Please traveled to New York to participate in Total Vocal 2017 under the direction of aca-legend, Deke Sharon. The group has also placed for each of the last three years of the MIX 101.5 Christmas Choir competition, winning $8,000 for their school choral program. Pitch Please is active in the Chatham County and Triangle area community and performs for various festivals, charity functions, and community events.

Syncopate is RJR's premier female a cappella group. Originally established in 2002 by eight driven girls (hence the name “Syncop-eight”!), the current group includes 17 members and is led by students Eve Salzwedel, Ava Foster, and Ellie Grubbs. The girls are ecstatic to be back for the group's second year competing in ICHSA! Syncopate placed 3rd in this Quarterfinal last year, and the group hopes for another successful season to bond and challenge themselves. With new members come new opportunities and a new sound; Syncopate is excited to bring their new sound to the stage tonight.

The R.J. Reynolds Acafellas started in 2001 with only eight guys (known then as “The Octafellas”). Since then, they have grown into a student-directed, student-run ensemble of 19 guys with a deep passion for a cappella music. They released an album in 2013 and another one is in the works! The ensemble leaders are Wills Woodruff and Zeke Duncan. This is their first year competing and they are extremely excited to participate!

The Lion Experience held its first auditions at Shelby High School in the spring of 2016 and began rehearsals during the summer months. The group is new to this style of singing, but very enthusiastic about learning and performing. In less than two years of existence, they have performed all over Cleveland County at local events. They also competed at last spring's Carowinds Choral Festival and received 1st place. They look forward to spreading their wings with Varsity Vocals for the first time this year!

WA Cappella is the first contemporary co-ed a cappella group at Western Alamance High School in Elon, N.C. The group was founded in the fall of 2010 and has developed into an established, award-winning group whose members share a bond both on and offstage. WA Cappella has performed at a variety of events including ICHSA, Acappallooza at Elon University, Jam for Hope in Winston-Salem, and a series of collegiate a cappella concerts across North Carolina. The group just recently released its first EP, Out of the Blue, which can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and more!


is RJR's only co-ed a cappella group. Composed of 23 talented students ranging from freshmen to seniors, X was founded in 2013. The group is directed by four upperclassmen students: Ava Foster, Lucas Shields, Will Fulton, and Ellie Grubbs.



Originally from the mountains of western North Carolina, April McTaggart is a seasoned vocalist and entertainer. Her heartfelt passion for vocal music began at an early age when she sang alongside family members in a professional gospel quartet. The group's affinity for organic arranging developed April's ear for creating harmonies and blending with other vocalists. As an undergraduate, April sang high soprano in Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and other classical and sacred pieces with the prestigious Duke University Chorale and Chapel Choir. She developed her voice in the varied pop repertoire of Lady Blue, one of Duke’s leading all-female a cappella groups. After graduation, April became the first female vocalist to join Transit Vocal Band, a four-member professional a cappella group based in Raleigh, N.C. Described as "A Cappella Arena Rock," this award-winning group has entertained audiences in venues across the United States, including Carnegie Hall for the inaugural Open Final. As much as April loves performance for entertainment, she is equally passionate about music education. With Transit, she has conducted hundreds of educational programs for students at the K-12 and collegiate levels.

Tye Tavaras 
was a member of Emory University's Aural Pleasure from 2005-2009 and again from 2012-2013. She was also a member of Catatonic, a semi-professional group based in Atlanta, Ga., and the 2104 Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweepstakes Champions. In addition, she waspco-executive Producer of SoJam in 2014. She currently works for Emory University and is singing with a new group based in Atlanta.

Jessica Glime has a bachelor's degree in music education from UNC-G. In school, she served as music director, featured soloist, and arranger for The UNC-G Sapphires, an award-winning all-female a cappella group, and managed production on two of their albums. She currently teachers vocal music at Ragsdale High School and sings professionally in the Triad area. 

Felicia Francois fell in love with a cappella when she became a member of The UNCG Sapphires. After serving as the group's director, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with bachelor's degrees in vocal performance and in choral music education. She now works as a chorus teacher at Northern Guilford Middle School and as a private voice teacher in Greensboro, N.C. Felicia also sings with many groups around Greensboro, including the Bel Canto Company. 



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Principal Leslie Alexander and all of our administrators, Mr. Brad Fischer, Ms. Liz May, Mr. Mike Chamis, Mrs. Karen Morris, Mrs. Mary Bergstone, Mrs. Nicole Beale, Mr. Terry Hicks, Mr. Harry Corpening, RJ Reynolds Faculty and Staff, and all of our adult and student 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



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.



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!





The International Championship
of A Cappella Open


Carnegie Hall
 Saturday, September 22, 2018