Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 23rd season! Our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever after almost a quarter century of presenting the best student groups on stage and in the studio.

Our tournaments have grown from a handful of events to the massive showcase they are today, featuring more than 650 groups and 9,800 singers at 87 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 Pitch Perfect franchise 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 enjoyed a long stay 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 two years ago. “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. Its third season will kick off this summer.

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 23 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2019 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



Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 
Saturday, January 26, 2019



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 annually produce The Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and The 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 in New York City.

The high school tournament is now in its 14th year and continues to grow fast. We are now holding Quarterfinal rounds in all of our regions, and the 2019 season will feature the largest high school tournament field in our history. The winners of each of seven Semifinal rounds will advance to the ICHSA Finals at The Town Hall in New York City.

The Open Tournament took place for the second time ever in summer 2018 and featured six semifinals that lead to the Open Finals featuring those six Regional Champions, two Wild Card Champions, and our 2018 ICHSA and ICCA Champions. Those 10 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.



A Sharp Arrangement, SUNY Potsdam’s student-run treble a cappella group, loves to perform in schools and various other venues. The group takes pride in working with students and members of the community through their performances. A Sharp Arrangement has come together to explore the area of women’s a cappella music through a variety of musical styles. The group supports music education in schools and seeks to actively engage students through music. A Sharp Arrangement is committed to learning healthy, supported and energized singing that can be enjoyed by all of their audiences. A Sharp Arrangement’s mission is to perform and entertain the public through a cappella music.

Partial Credit A Cappella
is one of four club a cappella groups at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Founded in 2003, Partial Credit, or PC for short, was originally formed to help its members survive the frigid winters of Troy, N.Y., and maybe, just maybe, earn some extra points on their rigorous exams by uniting in the joyous act of song. Among them, they have four voice parts, affectionately referred to as the SopranBros, the Altoids, the Tenders, and the Basses (as in the fish). All of their music is proposed and arranged by group members, and as such, their repertoire features a wide variety of musical genres and eclectic mashups. They typically have multiple events scheduled throughout the year, on and off campus and in and out of state, and frequently in collaboration with other collegiate a cappella groups or RPI student organizations. Despite their busy schedules as science and engineering students, they rehearse three times a week. In addition to practicing their current song lineup, they fill up rehearsals by dancing on the offbeat, randomly harmonizing during warm-ups, screaming ugly jazz chords, complaining about homework, and partaking in the occasional handstand or round of stretches. Partial Credit relishes the competitive a cappella scene and loves the chance to improve their sound, meet with other groups from around the country, and provide entertaining and dramatic performances.

Pitch Please
is the premier co-ed a cappella group from the University at Albany in New York’s capital region! Still a relatively new group on campus, Pitch Please was formed in 2013. In that short time, they have become popular across campus and at other local colleges. This group is composed of future psychologists, teachers, accountants, and even doctors, but they all love to create music when they are focused enough. They don’t limit themselves to one genre or time period of music, singing everything from the Beatles to Sam Smith to Rihanna and even Mariah Carey at Christmastime. Although they began with a pop sound, they have been experimenting with different sounds such as gospel and rock. In the future, the group looks forward to writing original material and possibly recording it. They’ve performed at the ICCA four out of their five years of existence and they can’t wait to be back after missing last year! 

In the fall of 1992, Kyle Hayden, Brian Hough, Rob Searle, and Dave Smith formed a barbershop quartet under the moniker of The Ripchords, aiming to sing Valentines to raise money for the campus chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Their first real gig was singing barbershop and doo-wop classics at Boston University. When Rob left school in the spring of 1993, the barbershop idea was scrapped and the three remaining members formed The Potsdam Pointercounts. The Pointercounts dedicate themselves to educating students of all ages about a cappella music and bringing love of the arts into schools. The Pointercounts perform various styles of music to engage creative minds and spirits through educational workshops and performances. 

Serendipity is the University at Albany’s premier and only all female a capella group! First formed in 1999, their anthem has been “Wonderwall” by Oasis. “Serendipity” means to make a fortunate discovery by accident. The group name is accurate, because many of its members stumbled upon Serendipity, unaware of how greatly it would impact their lives. The group values diversity, female empowerment, and group bonding, and go out of their way to be inclusive and supportive for all of its members. They love music and love one another, which makes their music sound that much better. The group has previously participated in the ICCA and performed at significant events on the UAlbany campus, such as their President’s Inaugural Ceremony and even graduation and commencement ceremonies. They also put on their own shows each semester to show off their talent to friends and family. 

Stay Tuned is SUNY Potsdam’s second official co-ed a cappella group. They are a close-knit family of music lovers, and they’re excited to bring their take on a cappella to the public. Stay Tuned was formed in October 2012 by a small group of SUNY Potsdam students who had the desire to bring together a cappella musicians. Since then, their goal has been to redefine a cappella music. Their original arrangements, wide range of repertoire, and individuality come together to create a new and unique a cappella experience. 

The Golden Notes is the mixed a capella group from The College of Saint Rose. Since their founding in 2010, they have been creating new and exciting arrangements of popular music to perform around the Capital Region. 

The Potsdam Pitches is SUNY Potsdam’s oldest co-ed a cappella group. The group was founded in 2007 and has been going strong ever since! Their mission is to spread their love of music through a cappella and influence as many people as possible. 

The Rusty Pipes is a co-ed a cappella group from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. Founded in 1997, this is RPI's second-oldest a cappella group, and they perform original arrangements of songs from many different genres of music. They perform at campus and local events, participate in competitions, host semester shows, and record their music. 

Understaffed is the premier a cappella ensemble at Clarkson University. Founded in the spring of 2018, Understaffed hopes to make a name for itself on the collegiate a cappella scene. Clarkson University is universally recognized for its impressive engineering, math, and science programs, but lacks a music department. Understaffed consists of nonmusical majors who share a passion for singing and making music with the little free time they have to spare. Understaffed’s members come from a variety of musical backgrounds, ranging from little to no high school singing to High School All-State performers, but the group’s founding principle asserts that every member has musical talents to offer, whatever their experience. Understaffed members choose and arrange a variety of music, and find that this group provides an outlet for them to relieve the stress of college studies and strive for goals beyond the classroom. The members of Understaffed take great pleasure in performing and wish to share that pleasure with their audiences.



Gyasi Barber, a New Jersey native, completed his Master of Music in vocal performance at the New England Conservatory. There, Gyasi played Figaro in "Le Nozze di Figaro," Don Pedro De Hinoyosa in Offenbach's "La Perichole," and Ben Benny in "Paul Bunyan." Prior to that, he earned his undergraduate degree in music education from Syracuse University, and played such roles as Pish Tush in "The Mikado," Frank in Strauss' "Die Fledermaus," and Sarastro in "Die Zauberflote." Gyasi has performed as a featured soloist with the Masterworks Chorale in Boston, as the bass soloist for their annual Messiah Sing, and played Collatinus in Opera Brittenica’s production of Britten's "Rape of Lucretia.” Currently based in New York City, Gyasi performs with the Oratorio Society of New York, in addition to other small groups. 

Amy Malkoff is the Media Director of the Women's A Cappella Association (WACA), Marketing Director for the A Cappella Education Association, and one of the producers of Haunted Harmonies in Salem, Mass. Amy served on the board and as web content director for the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA) and is a longtime ICHSA/ICCA judge, as well as a certified judge for other events. She is a frequent workshop teacher, master clinician, writer, designer, runner of social media campaigns (, and a singer/songwriter and studio musician ( She was a founding member of award-winning groups All About Buford and Deadline Poet, and has appeared onstage and in the studio with such luminaries as Wayne Brady, Jonathan Brooke, The Persuasions, Ellis Paul, Vance Gilbert, GrooveLily, Patty Griffin, and Dar Williams. She has a degree in music from Kenyon College, with music studies at Youngstown State University and master’s-level coursework at the New England Conservatory of Music. Amy's music has appeared on both the Rounder Records and Hear Music/Starbucks labels. @amalkoff 

Anthony Pulido is an arranger and director for Uproar, a Boston-based, professional a cappella group. He attended Northeastern University, where he directed and arranged for The Unisons. He also records and workshops groups and artists in the greater Northeast region, notably at festivals such as BOSS, NE Voices, and Haunted Harmonies. You can also find him as the third member of the “Head/Voice” podcast team. Check out the podcast to hear Anthony discuss a cappella with other members of the community. 

Betsy Stambach-Fuller holds both a B.M. and an M.M. from SUNY Fredonia. There, Betsy founded and directed the university's first all-female a cappella group, Some Like it Hot. The group went on to record three studio albums and perform at the ICCA. Presently, Betsy clinicians and performs regularly in the New York Capital District. She is also the choral director at South Glens Falls High School, where she directs three choral ensembles, including the region's first high school contemporary a cappella ensemble, Vocal Point. In addition to competing at the ICHSA and hosting the region's popular a cappella festival, TuneUp, Vocal Point has recently released their first studio album and will be performing at the inaugural National Convention of A Cappella in April. Apart from her professional accomplishments, Betsy takes pride in her two 'Ben Folds-a cappella loving' children, Evelyn and Timothy. 



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank EMPAC staff, RPI, Nicole Kholweiss, Duly Noted, and The Rensselyrics; 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 Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Sara Yood
Senior Producer

Helena Benthall
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Courtney Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Elise Hackl
 ICHSA Midwest & Southwest


Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West Producer

Riley McMahon
 ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
 ICHSA South Producer

Nicole Kohlweiss
 ICHSA Northeast 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 finishing groups advance to the ICCA Central Semifinal!



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





The International Championship
of A Cappella Open


Carnegie Hall
 Saturday, October 5, 2019