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



Mees Auditorium 
July 21, 2018






Follow us @varsityvocals on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and join the conversation using #ACAOPEN



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 three to five 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 eight 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 70 groups competing in six U.S. Semifinals, an international Semifinal, and a Wild Card round. The winners of those events advanced to The Open Finals at Carnegie Hall, where they competed against our reigning ICCA and ICHSA Champions for $25,000. The second season of The Open will take place starting this summer and will culminate at Carnegie Hall on September 22.

For a full tournament schedule, visit us at


Impromptu A Cappella hails from Indianapolis, Ind.! The group includes eight individuals with diverse educational and vocational backgrounds, but they share a love of music and an understanding of its power to affect others. Since the group’s conception, they have had the pleasure of performing and placing 4th in last season's AcaOpen Midwest Semifinal, performing as an exhibition group in this year's ICCA Midwest Quarterfinal, and performing in the VoiceJam competition in Fayetteville, Ark. in April. They are very excited to bring a fun and original set to this competition and take pride in arranging their own pieces. They hope that you enjoy their interpretations and share in the universal joy of music!

Inside Voices is a mixed group from Bowling Green, Ohio. Its members come from all over the state and come together twice a week to make music they can be proud of and grow and friends and musicians. Inside Voices strives to be a consistent presence in their local arts scene and to make new friends in the a cappella community!

LUXE is a six-member group from the Midwest area. Composed of Varsity Vocals competition alumni, each of the members of LUXE have earned special awards from Varsity Vocals competitions, including ICHSA, ICCA, and the 2017 A Cappella Open. Passionate about the art of a cappella and entertaining people from around the world, LUXE is ecstatic to come together for the 2018 A Cappella Open!

The Spartones is a vocal collaboration within the Michigan State University a cappella community. The group includes a number of members and alumni of MSU's State of Fifths, Ladies First, The Accafellas, Capital Green, and The Dischords. The group was founded last year to compete in the Open, and the great experience created such strong relationships between the groups, that they've decided to come back! They can't wait to bring their music to the audience.

Note-ably Strange is an a cappella group based out of Harrison, Ohio. These four high-schoolers have been singing together for nearly two years, and are very excited to be competing the the Open this year. Note-ably Strange chooses, arranges, and performs their songs on their own. Of the group, Paige, Isaac, and Matthew are part of Harrison High School's Dynamix, and Hannah Carmen works backstage at nearly all of their shows. Note-ably Strange participates in a variety of other activities at their school, including drama club, robotics , French and Spanish clubs, and jazz, concert, and marching bands. Note-ably Strange generally performs songs from artists such as Jon Bellion, Train, The Script, and Panic! at the Disco.

Born of rivalry, this Columbus, Ohio-based a cappella group combines three of the top competitive groups from the campus of The Ohio State University. Claiming members from Buck That!, Scarlet and Grace Notes, and The Ohio State of Mind, ResonEight is a brand new co-ed group looking to make their voices heard on the Open stage this year.

Based in northeast Ohio, Zero to Sixty is composed of current and former members of Kanga Blue (University of Akron) and Vocal Intensity (Kent State University) who simply cannot stay away from a cappella. This newly formed group performs innovative arrangements of new and old top 40 hits, rehearsing into the wee hours of twilight. #goodvibesandhighkicks



Stephen Donnelly graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Penn. with a degree in music education. At Duquesne, he performed in every ensemble he could, including vocal groups. After college, Stephen pursued his passion and became a full-time music and movement specialist. Currently teaching in Quaker Valley School District, Stephen spends his days teaching music and his nights performing and arranging for DoubleShot! Vocal. He has travelled from coast to coast performing and conducting vocal workshops for various groups and organizations.

Katie Hayward hails from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is an alumna of the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, where she studied music education and voice. Today, she enjoys an active career as a performing musician, vocal coach, and choral educator. Recognized as a popular music specialist, she regularly judges events in the Cincinnati area. Katie is currently the artistic director of 2Knight 2Knight and One Knight Only, Kings High School's premier pop a cappella groups.

Laura Quinn has been a member, arranger, and managing director of Two Weeks Notice, a semi-professional (CAL) group in the metro Detroit area since 2007. In 2014, she attended a workshop with Tony-winning composer Jason Robert Brown, and later directed his show, "Songs For A New World" in Birmingham, Mich. Laura brings a unique perspective to the judging process with an extensive background in vocal music, musical theater, piano, ukulele, and percussion. She met her tap-dancing husband in 2000 while singing karaoke, and today they have one daughter, one dog, one cat, and a ferret. Laura works in advertising by day for MRM//McCann and spends her evenings as a dance mom, traveling to regional and national dance competitions throughout the year.

Brad Rees serves as a music professor and director of arts programs at Tiffin University. There, he oversees the school’s cutting-edge commercial music degree, record label and recording studio, and also directs the award-winning a cappella group, Up in the Air. A leader in vocal jazz education and contemporary a cappella for two decades, he has taught at Bowling Green State University, the University of Northern Colorado, and Iowa’s School for Music Vocations. He sang with the Grammy-nominated vocal quintet, The Axidentals, and has performed with Ben Folds, Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra, and others. He has studied at the University of Northern Colorado, Western Michigan University, George Mason University, and Boston University, and is currently in demand as an arranger, producer, adjudicator, and clinician. 

Selame Scarlett hails from Okemos, Mich. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, she was part of Capital Green A Cappella, and served as music director, arranger and vocal percussionist. Currently, she is an ICHSA producer, Varsity Vocals judge, and clinician for high school and collegiate groups in the Midwest. She serves as a percussionist and vocalist for the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA)-winning, all-female sextet, Lady Jaye, and the all-female gospel powerhouse group, Traces, which was featured on Season 5 of NBC's “The Sing-Off.” In the summertime, Selame is an instructor and counselor at A Cappella Academy, a Los Angeles-based vocal camp for young adults (ages 13 to 17). Selame has been fortunate enough to record alongside groups such as Naturally 7, The Boxettes, Pentatonix, Duwende, and Traces of Blue (formerly Afro-Blue)! She has led percussion workshops and masterclasses, both on her own and with her beatboxing colleagues.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Era McMahon, Nik Engelhart, and Capital University Staff; Riley McMahon, Jake Hackl, Jeremy 'JDVBBS' Winston, and the rest of our wonderful event volunteers for your time and effort in making this such a successful first event in Columbus; 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 placing group advances to The Open Finals.



The International Championship
 of A Cappella Open Finals


Carnegie Hall
 Saturday, September 22, 2018



Find your favorite groups on Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and Best of High School A Cappella (BOHSA), available for purchase on iTunes!





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.