Amanda Newman
Executive Director



Agoura Hills Performing Arts Education Center
July 14, 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


118°WEST is a new a cappella group from Orange County, Calif., featuring the best talent from Chapman University A Cappella. Having just launched this year, the group is thrilled to participate in The Open and show that collegiate a cappella has a place in the professional a cappella scene!

Once upon a time, two brothers had an idea: they would each make a singing group and have a competition to see which group was best. They gathered friends and started working on an arrangement, but before long, they were working all together. Soon after, they formed one group and performed at a local talent show. This was the beginning of Aca-word in 2012. Since then, Aca-word has grown into 13 multi-talented singes, including three magicians, an accordionist, two baristas, a lifeguard, a juggler, a ping pong player, an actress, a rugby player, and two clarinetists. They perform original covers of every genre, from classic rock hits to contemporary pop tunes, all with sophisticated arrangements and a unique signature sound. They strive to bring joy to audiences and share their aca-love of singing to everyone within earshot! Aca-word has performed at the Bay Area Harmony Sweepstakes from 2016 to 2018. In 2016, their arrangement of James Bay's "Let it Go" was recognized for Best Original Arrangement. They perform regularly at local farmers’ markets, private holiday gigs, and county fairs. This year, they participated in workshops at She Sings in Berkeley, Calif. They are thrilled for the chance to perform at The Open!

Established in 2015, B-Side Book Club emerged from a group of close-knit friends with a shared love for singing. Each of them had participated in collegiate a cappella during undergrad and wanted to continue singing after graduation. Since the group's first meeting around a dining room table, they have performed in various venues throughout Portland, collaborated with other a cappella groups, and become a recognized nonprofit. Through it all, their mission hasn't wavered from their original goal to creatively produce enjoyable, beautiful, and meaningful music. B-Side Book Club has been a place of solace, creativity, and musical inspiration for all of its members. They get lots of joy from the group, and love being able to share their music with others.

From the heart of Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area, vocal band Business Casual combines unexpected musical styles to produce stylish a cappella versions of vintage chart toppers, today’s top 40 hits, and award-winning original songs. Winners of the 2015 and 2017 San Francisco Regional Harmony Sweepstakes a cappella competition, Business Casual has taken home awards including Best Arrangement, Audience Favorite, and Best Original Song. The group has performed at conferences such as Dreamforce and Wizard World Comic Con, as well as at community events such as the Mill Valley Arts Festival and San José Christmas in the Park. In addition to a regular schedule of private events, Business Casual has played live public gigs at Neck of the Woods and Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco and Omega Salvage in Berkeley. The group has conducted workshops with local schools and participated in collaborations with other Bay Area artists. Their first EP, Eyes on Me, was released in 2014.

COLLAB is a collaboration of performers from UCLA’s Resonance, The ScatterTones, and CSUN’s Acasola. They are brought together by a mutual love for singing and a cappella music. They strive to challenge themselves musically and leave an impact on their community.

Collide Vocals features five young singers (ages 19-23) that bring a fresh sound to the a cappella scene, featuring tight harmonies, unique pop covers, and a dynamic, youthful energy. Three of Collide's members attended high school together in Colorado Springs, where their passion for a cappella began. Though relatively new, the group is working hard to turn their dream of performing professional a cappella into reality. Their latest accomplishments include releasing their first studio single on Spotify and Apple Music (produced by friend and mentor, Tony Huerta) and opening a sold-out show for Face Vocal Band in Colorado. Collide enjoys experimenting with unusual sounds and putting their own spin on the music they choose, which includes non-traditional styles for a cappella, such as rap and electronic music. The members of Collide are passionate about making an impact with their music, so they often select songs with relevant social themes. Collide’s singers have a wide array of musical skills, from Collin (vocal percussionist), who is pursuing a jazz degree at UNC Greeley, to Josh (tenor), who is classically trained and has a B.A. in music education. The members of Collide embrace their diverse musical backgrounds and strive to highlight them in performance. When not singing a cappella, members of Collide take in the beautiful mountains of Colorado... or hide in their apartments to watch movies and play video games. Collide is so thankful to the many friends, family, and mentors who have helped them get started, and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

HIVE is a group of five very different women who make music and crazy sound effects with just their voices, all while trying to make the world a better place. The fierce members of HIVE are also music educators and teach workshops on vocal music, in addition to being singers and performers. As such, one of HIVE's core values is giving back to the musical community through education. The singers of HIVE come together across three cities to sing their unique arrangements of creative covers and original music. With Lisa and Moorea from the Bay Area, Christina and Nina from Los Angeles, and Courtney in Salt Lake City, Utah, the women of HIVE meet every two months for full-immersion musical weekend retreats to develop their sound, connect as people, practice for hours on end, make music videos, laugh, connect, and eat bread like champions. HIVE is influenced by craftsmanship in songwriting, lyrics that are raw in honesty and true to spirit, and music that moves people. The sound and soul of HIVE's music have been shaped by artists such as Krystle Warren, Hiatus Kaiyote, Merrill Garbus, Becca Stevens, and Laura Mvula. HIVE includes Christina Wilson, Courtney Jensen, Lisa Forkish, Moorea Dickason, and Nina Kasuya.

Los Angeles-based Honey Whiskey Trio tells stories through song and stomp, highlighting the traditions of American folk music. Alumni of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach, Courtney, Ann Louise, and Christina began singing together in each other’s living rooms for a musical, emotional release. After seeing the impact of their music on the contemporary a cappella community in 2013, these sisters in song solidified their style as American folk and picked up instruments to further enhance their vocally driven sound. Today their passion for music education, community outreach, and singing continues to drive them. They create, arrange, and explore music from the front porches, music halls, and hymn books of early America, sharing with students, adults, and lifelong music lovers across the United States.

Based in Phoenix, Ariz., Side Note is a semi-professional co-ed a cappella group that specializes in singing and arranging contemporary a cappella music. The group members are recent graduates from Northern Arizona University (NAU) and Arizona State University (ASU), all with extensive experience in collegiate a cappella and who still love to create a cappella music on the side (hence the name "Side Note"). Established in 2017, the group originally served as an outlet for its busy members in the workforce, including music educators, marketing directors, science tutors, and business entrepreneurs. However, they have rapidly grown in skill and demand since the group's establishment, performing at various showcases across the state of Arizona and beyond (including this chance to compete in The Open!), and group's musical support and prestige has exceeded their original goals! Side Note is no longer solely an outlet from everyday jobs, but a high-achieving community of singers and friends who love to share the power of music with everyone!



Erin Bentlage is a singer, songwriter, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist from Burlington, Vt. She co-founded and directed her high school’s first a cappella group and went on to join The Boston University Treblemakers, but soon transferred to Berklee College of Music where she earned her degree inc contemporary writing and production. Erin has been a member of The Singing Tribe, an improvisation-oriented world a cappella group created by Bobby McFerrin, Introflection, a jazz and improvisation based group, and The Berklee Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and has performed throughout the country at various festivals in groups and as a featured artist and clinician. Erin relocated to Los Angeles in late 2014, where she continues to cultivate her passion for music through writing, performing, and teaching at Silverlake Conservatory of Music and Los Angeles College of Music. She is also an arranger and director for A Cappella Academy, an intensive summer program for high school students from across the globe.

Kenton Chen is a professional singer, songwriter, and arranger. He has a B.A. in vocal jazz from the University of Southern California, where he served as business manager and music director of The SoCal VoCals, winning ICCA Finals twice with the group. Kenton has also appeared on "The Sing-Off," toured as an opening act for Ben Folds, and was a member of esteemed a cappella group m-pact. He currently sings with the L.A. Choral Lab and Level A Cappella, which was recently featured on "The Late Late Show with James Corden." Outside of a cappella, Kenton has sung background vocals for numerous groups and organizations, including Portugal the Man at Coachella, and is a featured singer/arranger for ABC's "The Real O'Neals." He is also a working session singer in Los Angeles and can be heard on work for the Oscars, "Simpsons," "Deadpool 2," and "Star Wars: Rogue One."

Tom Keyes is a passionate and dedicated a cappella facilitator, event producer, and music director. He is the former executive producer of the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, former director of the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL) for and director of operations at the A Cappella Academy in California. With a considerable background in vocal and instrumental music, Tom was bitten by the a cappella bug in 2009 when he created and directed his own group, the award-winning semi-professional group, Frequency. Currently music directing three vocal groups, as well as a spiritual center, he balances music, work, and family, and lives with his wife and three children in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Jim Raycroft holds a master’s degree in voice from the California Institute of the Arts and has performed all over North America and in Europe. He is a 33-year member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and sang with the Los Angeles Opera for 12 years. He has soundtrack credits for movies including “Home Alone,” “Jurassic Park,” “A.I.,” “Lady in the Water,” “Godzilla,”and more. He appeared as a singing pirate in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” in numerous television shows, and has performed at the Grammys, for the President of the United States, and the Queen of England. He founded and sings with the vocal jazz group, Pacific Swingline, the barbershop quartet, The Nickelodeon, and The Singers Elite Vocal Big Band. He is a published arranger and orchestrator, choral director for the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, music director at First United Methodist Church of Redondo Beach, and has prepared choruses for the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra. His singer referral service, Singers Elite, has entertained Southern California audiences for more than 30 years, and in 2002, he founded the annual “Choral Taste of Los Angeles,” a reading session of choral music by area composers.

Rachel Zumberge has a strong and varied background in performance, direction, and instruction of vocal and instrumental music. She currently serves as music director for two groups: The Over Tones A Cappella, a multi-generational a cappella group in the San Fernando Valley she founded in 2015, and Premiere A Cappella, an all-female a cappella group based in the Los Angeles area. While attending Lincoln High School, a performing arts magnet school, Rachel served as Concertmistress for the Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble and performed with Lincoln’s elite vocal a cappella jazz ensemble, winning many performance awards in orchestral and vocal ensemble competitions throughout the United States. Rachel went on to study violin performance the University of California, Santa Cruz, under Roy Milan, concertmaster of the SF Ballet., and has been a first violinist with the San Fernando Valley Symphony. She was a violin instructor for several years at Cazadero Performing Arts, led its All-Camp Choir l Program in 2010, and was its guest conductor in 2012. As music director for All About Theater in Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley Performing Arts Company, Rachel directed adults, teens, and children in many musical theatre productions. She has performed as a freelance violinist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and from 2008-2012, she ran a private studio in San Jose where she taught voice, violin, music theory, and piano lessons. Rachel was also a music teacher at East Palo Alto Academy, RJ Fisher Middle School, and Lincoln High School.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank tonight's emcees, Aaron Jung and Jaquain Sloan, guest performance group Legacy, sound engineer Jeff Eames, and all of the A-PAEC staff, especially Gilles, Liz, Stacy, Adrian, and Mike; 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.


Legacy is an auditioned community youth a cappella group made up of singers aged 13-18 from the greater Los Angeles area! Under the direction of Rob Dietz ("The Sing-Off," "Glee"), the group promotes both a high standard of musicianship and a strong sense of community. Founded in 2016, the group has already received numerous awards and accolades, including 1st place at the 2018 ICHSA Finals, the title of 2017 LAAF scholastic competition champions, winners of the 2017 AcaOpen Southwest Semifinal, and a coveted spot on the 2018 BOHSA compilation.

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!