THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF COLLEGIATE

A CAPPELLA

DEAR FRIENDS,

 

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!

Sincerely,

Amanda Newman
Executive Director

ICCA SOUTH SEMIFINAL

 

University High School
Saturday, March 2, 2019

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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

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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 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 
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

 

Prismatics is Belmont University's newest co-ed a cappella ensemble. The group was  founded in the fall of 2015 and they are eager to compete in their third ICCA. They strive to promote unity within music and to spread love among musicians and throughout the world. This year, they would like to dedicate their set to mental health awareness, reminding each and every person that they are not alone. Help is one call away at 1-800-273-8255. 

The Beltones is a 14-member student-run, co-ed a cappella group from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Founded in 2009, they have grown to include local and national performances, including ICCA Finals in New York City in 2013, 2014, and 2017. The Beltones are built on a foundation of positivity and value the privilege of making good music with people they love. This fun and positive group is dedicated to fostering a community for its members and students through music. 

No Ceiling is a mixed a cappella group from William & Mary, established in 2015. Though they enjoy singing many different types of music, No Ceiling found its niche in lesser-known songs that create space for creativity in their arrangements. The lack of audience expectation allows them to craft their selections into a dynamic set, rather than just a list of songs, and they strive to complement their music with unique choreography. No Ceiling persists in the face of heavy workloads and busy schedules, and to pushes itself to become the best that it can be. Beyond its competitive aspect, No Ceiling comprises a group of close friends who enjoy spending time together. Their fondest memories include long road trips, group dinners, and late nights jamming to their favorite tunes. They like to think that their close friendship makes them stronger performers, and they strive to convey that connection musically each time the pitch pipe is blown. As they say after each rehearsal, No Ceiling, lots of feeling. 

Wolfgang is a co-ed a cappella group at North Carolina State University, created to build exceptional musical experiences. They sing a variety of pieces that aim to foster creativity, while building a unified sound and a close-knit dynamic. Their music has been described as powerful, inspiring, and meaningful. They strive to promote personal growth, incite originality, and foster a diverse group of individuals with a common love for music. 

Harmonic Notion is a competitive co-ed a cappella group from Vanderbilt University, founded in 2013. Harmonic Notion is made of 14 undergraduates who love to sing and perform and the group is known for bringing passion and energy to every performance. In their music, they seek to create a culture of music, fun, and collaboration. 

Infinite Harmony is an eclectic family of diverse Georgia Tech students that share a love for music. Not your typical a cappella group, iH maximizes their different backgrounds to approach music both systematically and abstractly. Engineers and science majors collaborate with liberal arts and business majors to create the perfect balance of structure and spontaneity. With arrangements ranging from jazz to rock to electronic, their multifaceted set lists showcase each individual's unique interpretation of music and what it means to perform. 

Founded in 2016, Gestalt hails from the University of Florida. Gestalt references the German psychology theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. With musical leanings between the recognizable and the sublime, their quest is to break the mold of contemporary a cappella. 

Vox is so excited to be competing in ICCA for the first time! They are the second-newest co-ed a cappella group at Florida State University, and formed in 2017. The group was created to provide aspiring musicians with a musical outlet on FSU’s campus. Vox has attended the Betsy Acafest two years in a row and has competed in numerous competitions and showcases on FSU's campus. They are dedicated to showcasing each member’s unique strengths and maintaining an encouraging atmosphere within the a cappella community. After ICCA, they hope to release a debut album. 

Hailing from Orlando, Fla., Gemini Blvd. is the University of Central Florida's first co-ed a cappella group. Gemini Blvd. embraces the individuality of each of its members, which contributes to the unique style and persona of the group as a whole. These talented and loving singers recently released their second studio album, Impact

BisCaydence is the oldest a cappella group at the University of Miami and is so excited to be returning to the ICCA stage. The group was created in 2011, deriving its name from Miami's Biscayne Bay and the musical term "cadence.” They perform all over south Florida and have traveled throughout the Southeast region to perform and compete. They specialize in pop music, but have been known to dabble in a variety of genres, including alternative rock, folk, indie, funk, and EDM. BisCaydence cannot wait to bring a wave of fresh Miami sounds your way.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Dr. Kevin Badanes is founder and artistic director of the professional vocal jazz octet, Avante. He has been leading a cappella and jazz groups in a three-decade career at the collegiate and professional levels. An active composer and clinician in small-ensemble singing, he is the co-creator of the nationally touring production, “STEM: the Musical.” 

A graduate of Western Carolina University, Sarah R. Fowler holds a Bachelor of Arts in piano pedagogy and a concentration in musical theatre. She currently serves as a vocal coach and accompanist for the WCU School of Stage & Screen and the WCU School of Music, where she works with the opera and their premier vocal and instrumental performing group, Catamount Singers and Electric Soul. She is one of the most sought-after vocal coaches and accompanists in Western North Carolina, having performed at both the Grand Ole Opry and at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. She performs regularly at various professional theatres as a music director and at regional area high schools as a choral accompanist. During her collegiate years, she performed alongside notable opera singers Angela Brown, David Malis, Tonio DiPaolo, and Sherrill Milnes. She has also performed with the United States Army Field Band. Sarah currently resides in Asheville, N.C. and serves as the Director of Music and Youth Ministries at the First Presbyterian Church in Weaverville, where she directs the adult, handbell, and youth choirs as well as the orchestra. She is honored to return to Varsity Vocals for her sixth season as an adjudicator. 

Kristin LoBiondo is no stranger to the a cappella community. She has worked as the assistant director of events for the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA), and performed with professional groups, Snowday, Vox Pop, and Jaded. She earned her B.A. in vocal music at Elon University, and has judged the ICCA in North Carolina and Maryland. Kristin is super excited to be judging again, and can't wait to see how the aca-bop has transformed over the years. 

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 concurrently developed her soulful alto 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 routinely 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. 

Megan Philbeck is the choral director at Crest High School in Shelby, N.C. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music from Gardner-Webb University in 2011, where she assisted and arranged music for The AcaFelons, the school’s only a cappella group. Under her direction, Crest High School’s first and only a cappella group, Tonal Spectrum, regularly places at both the Quarterfinal and Semifinal levels of the ICHSA. Tonal Spectrum recently released its latest EP, 2018, which is now available on all platforms! Music education is Megan’s passion, and she finds the most joy in helping her students grow their confidence and find their voices. In her spare time, she sings with her band, CleveCo, and accompanies the congregation at Advent Lutheran Church in Kings Mountain, N.C.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank 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

Producer

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

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 the 2019 ICCA Finals!

BRING THE HARMONY HOME

 

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!

VIEW ALBUMS

varsityvocals

THE OPEN

 

The International Championship
of A Cappella Open

ARE YOU READY?

Carnegie Hall
 Saturday, October 5, 2019