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 SOUTHWEST SEMIFINAL

 

Marcus High School 
Saturday, March 24, 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

 

Vocal Effect is Montrose High School’s first-ever contemporary a cappella group. Last year was their first year competing in ICHSA and they are excited to be a part of the amazing experience again this year. Their 7:00 a.m. rehearsals are brutally early for these high school singers, but this is the only time they can meet, as many of them are involved in after-school activities, including softball, marching band, speech and debate, rock-climbing, dance, and color guard. Vocal Effect is passionate about strengthening the community of vocal and choral music at Montrose High and in the rural community of Montrose in general, where a cappella music is a new phenomenon. During the past year, this group has become a huge hit at many local businesses’ Christmas parties, country club festivities, church group gatherings, and school board meetings as a student showcase. They are often requested to sing around the community, especially during the holidays. Although it's unusual, this group does have two vocal percussionists. Both VPs are a part of the state-qualifying marching band program at Montrose High School and double as singers when needed. Vocal Effect is grateful to have a practically full-time volunteer sound tech, Terry Byrd, known by most members of this group as Papa Byrd. He always finds a way to make them laugh on long road trips or tough rehearsals and continues to push them to be their best. The group is also thankful to have advising on visual presentation from one of their member’s sisters, Kaci Drye, a former color guard captain and experienced dancer. Vocal Effect may be from a small town on the western slope of Colorado, but they don’t have a small town sound!

Ironwood Ridge High School's Treble Rebels is a passionate performing arts group in its second year competing in the contemporary a cappella arena. Composed of beauties and a beat, the vocalists fell in love with a cappella during the 2017 ICHSA Semifinals. Treble Rebels aims to connect with the community, facilitate musical growth, and provide widespread entertainment.

Red Harmony
(Walden Grove High School, Sahuarita, Ariz.) has been bringing contemporary a cappella to southern Arizona since 2015. This student-led ensemble rehearses outside of school hours and they always put their time where their mouth is, bringing dynamic energy and passion for singing to every performance. Frequent performers at school and community events, they've established a reputation for creative takes on established repertoire. From self-arrangements to refreshing spins on older tunes, Red Harmony has done it all and puts it all onstage.

Encore
is the a cappella ensemble of Carroll Senior High School. Members of this ensemble represent every walk of student life in their community. This newly formed group looks forward to exploring the world of a cappella.

Vocal Legacy
is the mixed contemporary a cappella group from Bryan High School. The group is made up of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. The group loves all things music (musicals, choral music, a cappella, even sight-reading).They are excited to share their set with you tonight!

Walk the Line
is in its third year competing in ICHSA. Last year, they were named Quarterfinal and Semifinal Champions of the Southwest, and were honored to attend ICHSA Finals in New York City! It was a memorable experience that they will keep with them through the rest of their lives. After their success last year, they have been repeatedly sought out to perform on campus, around the Rockwall community, and in the North Texas area. Walk the Line, above all else, enjoys meeting other a cappella groups and connecting with their audience. They are hopeful for another year of ICHSA success!

Coming from Marcus High School, Fusion is happy to be back in the ICHSA competition this year after taking a year off to record its first EP, Stand in the Light. The women of Fusion are active in choir at Marcus, as well as band, theatre, drill team, TAFE, church, service organizations, and numerous honor societies. They hope to show the strength of women united to share a common story, and to inspire other young women to join a cappella.

Pitch Black
is in its third year as the primary pop a cappella ensemble at Harker Heights High School. The previous iteration of this select ensemble was Les Chanteurs, one of the finest vocal jazz ensembles in Texas for 15 years. They worked with and were raised by such legends as Bob Chilcott, Paris Rutherford, Kerry Marsh, Michele Weir, Rosana Eckert, and Jennifer Shelton Barnes. Pitch Black thrives on performing some of the most elaborate and difficult a cappella arrangements around. This will be its first-ever pop a cappella competition.

Madison Avenue 
is the best of the best at James Madison High School. These 17 fine performers represent their school throughout the city of San Antonio with great pride and extraordinary talent. They have been featured on local newscasts, private parties, and even had the pleasure of opening for the legendary 80s rock band, Foreigner, at the Majestic Theatre. In 2016, Madison Avenue was chosen as the winner of the Margaret Tobin FAME award. Personally chosen by Deke Sharon to open for the Vocalocity tour in San Antonio, Madison Avenue staked their claim on the Tobin Center stage as one of the most popular high school a cappella groups. In its first year of ICHSA competition, Mad Ave won the right to represent the Southwest in ICHSA Finals in New York City. They are here tonight for a shot at that amazing opportunity once again.


GUEST PERFORMERS


Fusion and VoiceMale are the female and male a cappella groups at Marcus High School. They are both extra-curricular ensembles of the Marcus Choir Department. Both these ensembles and its members are very active performing at school, athletic and community events as the outreach groups for the choir department and Marcus High School. Both groups have competed regionally and nationally, having being recognized as the Grand Champion at Festival Disney in Orlando last year. Fusion and VoiceMale hope to continue to inspire other young singers to pursue singing and unity through music.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Bill Hare has been a full-time recording engineer and producer for over 30 years, and is recognized as a pioneer in bringing pop/rock production techniques to recorded contemporary a cappella. Bill has recorded and/or mixed acclaimed albums for some of the best-known a contemporary a cappella groups around the globe, including Pentatonix, The House Jacks, m-pact, Street Corner Symphony, NoTa, +4dB, Duwende, and The Backbeats (U.S.); The Swingle Singers and The King's Singers (U.K.); Basix and Vocal Line (Denmark); Cluster, The Ghost Files, Alti & Bassi, and Maybe6ix (Italy); Wise Guys, Amarcord, and Maybebop (Germany); as well as groups from dozens of other countries from Australia to Zambia. Collegiate a cappella clients include The Beelzebubs, On The Rocks, Divisi, The Harmonics, and hundreds of others. Bill is the world’s most awarded individual contemporary a cappella producer, with more than 70 appearances on BOCA, well over 100 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) nominations, 40 albums in the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB) "Picks of the Year" lists since 1998, and 13 "DeeBee" from DownBeat Magazine since 1987. His projects around the world have earned gold on up through multi-platinum record sales. Bill received a Grammy Award in 2011 in his name for his work on Christopher Tin’s “Calling All Dawns,” as well as multiple Grammy nods for projects worldwide.

Anna Gann 
has been a high school choir director and private voice teacher for 15 years. She has served as head of all music in Big Spring Independent School District in Texas, choir director for the Big Spring High School choir,and head choir director of both East Central High School and Edgewood Fine Arts Academy. She has a degree in vocal performance from Lubbock Christian University and an M.S. in music/choral conducting from UTSA. She was involved in a cappella groups during college, including Sweet Adelines. Anna is a frequent adjudicator for Texas UIL competitions, as well as ICHSA. Professional memberships include TMEA, TCDA, ACDA, and TMAA.

Colin Adams got his start in contemporary a cappella as a singer in Duke University's Something Borrowed, Something Blue. After serving as the group's general manager, arranger, and producing several albums for them, he was inspired to form Starry Night Studios in 2012. Since then, he's had the opportunity to record and produce records with dozens of college groups across the country. Now based in Houston, Texas, Colin continues to serve as a coach, arranger, producer, and traveling recording engineer. He is excited to be involved with Varsity Vocals this year.

Sue Schreiner received her B.A. and M.A. in vocal music performance from California State University-Northridge. After graduation, she served as a member of the Los Angeles Opera Company, performed as a featured soprano soloist with various symphonies and choruses throughout the country, and sang the national anthem for several professional sports teams including the New England Patriots and the Portland Trailblazers. She has taught vocal music students at both the university and the high school levels for the past 40 years until her retirement in 2016. Sue founded and directed the contemporary a cappella group, Soul’d Out, at Wilsonville High School in Oregon in 2007. Since then, the group has enjoyed great success, winning the Northwest ICHSA Semifinal in 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2018. They placed 2nd at ICHSA Finals in 2011, and were chosen to be the only high school group to perform on season 3 of NBC’s “The Sing-Off.” Sue has been a certified judge of a cappella, as well as state high school and college choir competitions, since 2008. She has judged and coached a cappella competitions throughout the Northwest, prior to moving to the Austin area in 2016. Sue loves Texas and she loves a cappella.

A native of upstate New York, Erin (Shults) Smith developed her passion for contemporary a cappella while getting her B.A. in voice at Ithaca College. As a member of Premium Blend, Ithaca College’s CARA-winning all-female a cappella group, Erin quickly discovered a love for arranging and vocal percussion. Soon after earning her B.A. in 2010, Erin moved to Florida to pursue her M.A. in arts management at the Florida State University College of Music. Since then, she moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and worked on the development teams for Fort Worth Opera and the University of North Texas (UNT) College of Music. Erin is currently the Director of Foundation Relations Communications for the UNT Division of Advancement, and is pursuing her M.B.A. in marketing at UNT. Since her Premium Blend days, Erin continues to arrange and has previously served as a master clinician, workshop presenter, and panelist at SoJam. She continues to sing as a member of the Lewisville Civic Chorale and with the Denton Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, and remains a dedicated advocate for the contemporary a cappella discipline and the performing arts.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Marcus HS Fusion and VoiceMale, and TCU License to Trill; 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