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 UNITED KINGDOM QUARTERFINAL

 

University of Edinburgh 
Saturday, January 26, 2019

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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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

 

Founded within the University of Aberdeen, Aberpella is the university’s premier mixed gender a cappella group. The group is currently at its largest to date, consisting of 14 charismatic and energetic performers. Founded in the year 2011, Aberpella has risen from strength to strength ever since. In 2017, they released our first solo studio EP, Fifty Tones of Grey, and a show of the same name at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. They have also collaborated on an EP, 3000 And Counting, with their sister ensemble, The Killer Quines. Known for their dark and atmospheric sound, Aberpella is bigger and better than eve, with a tight-knit ensemble and a warm and heartfelt signature sound. This is Aberpella’s third year participating in ICCA, and beyond showing some questionable dance moves, the group greatly enjoys connecting with other ensembles. They love the community aspect of a cappella and feel greatly privileged to take part in the competition at its heart. Over the past few years, Aberpella has performed fun sassy numbers, heart-wrenching ballads, and some dark and focused arrangements. With a roster of fantastic soloists, skilled vocal percussionists, and well-constructed arrangements, this year is sure to be a step up. They hope you enjoy! 

Cloud Nine is Edinburgh University A Cappella Society’s all-male competition group. Although only a year old, the group has made its mark and was fortunate to make it to the Voice Festival U.K.’s Semifinal down in Birmingham. 

The Killer Quines is an all-female a cappella group from the University of Aberdeen, ready to entertain you with their angelic sound and sassy attitudes. Despite their very Scottish name, The Quines are from all over Europe and each one brings a unique quality to their performance. Their wonderful music director Pauline has embraced The Quines’ evolution and highlights each member’s unique sound and musical background. They believe the nature of a cappella is as flexible as their voices which allows them to be whoever they want, whether that be soft, angelic and choral, layered gospel singing, gritty, explosive soul, or silky smooth folk. Taking pride in all their clean, raspy, passionate, quiet, full, crisp and purposeful notes alike, they work on a variety of techniques and sounds that keep them on their toes. In order to not let a single voice go unnoticed, they take turns in vocal percussion between parts, and like to be inclusive with regards to solos, taking advantage of the multitude of skills within the group. Moving forward, they learn from their mistakes and successes constantly, taking performances as they come. Juggling blending, beatboxing, choreography, rhythms, key changes, dynamics and harmonizing, they never have two performances the same. This year, they are taking every chance they can get to shine even brighter and can’t wait to see where it takes them. 

Licence to Trill is the University of Edinburgh's only all-female competitive a cappella group! Formed in 2016, they quickly took the a cappella world by storm, coming 2nd in the 2017 Scottish A Cappella Championships (SACC), and winning a place in the Voice Festival U.K. Final the following year. A group of 15 girls, Licence to Trill prides itself in diverse musical selections, with a repertoire encompassing Irish folk songs, Pentatonix's "Evolution of Beyonce," Christina Aguilera, and a funk medley! They are also known on campus for their stunning harmonies, creative arrangements, and gorgeous blend, all of which they are thrilled to showcase in the ICCA! As a female a cappella group, they are keen to set themselves apart with their authentic and committed performance style, alongside unique and exciting choreography. Every member contributes their own touch, which culminates in a truly captivating group dynamic. These girls have come a long way in two short years and can't wait to go further! They are thrilled to continually develop their sound, as well as their potential to explore new possibilities for all-female a cappella! Keep an eye out because Licence to Trill has got a lot to give! 

The Northern Lights is a mixed a cappella group made up of talented, diverse and passionate performers who seek to thrill their audiences through the power of the human voice. The Northern Lights are entering their sixth year of existence and hope to build on last year’s success, which included 3rd at the U.K. Semifinals of the ICCA, performing at Castle June Ball and Durham Cathedral, recording an EP and putting on sold-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The group is proud to arrange their own music and choreograph their own routines. Above all, the group fosters a close, supportive environment while aiming for musical excellence. Northern Lights now has a significant back catalogue of music to listen to, including their new EP, Castles in the Sky, and a third music video of Katie Melua’s debut-single, “The Closest Thing to Crazy.” 

The Royal Northern College of Music is one of the world’s leading conservatoires. Situated in the dynamic musical city of Manchester, the College is unique within the U.K. conservatoire sector, as the only one to have Bachelor and Master’s programmes in both classical and popular music. Inspired by the breadth and depth of talent within the Popular Music programme, Northern Voices is a new a cappella group led by musical director and fourth year vocalist Grettel Killing. A graduate of the A Cappella Academy (2014-2015), Grettel is an accomplished professional singer and arranger with extensive experience in this genre. Northern Voices is the RNCM’s first a cappella group and consists of 15 talented principle study singers from counties including Estonia, Cyprus, Germany, Poland, Holland, China, Malaysia, and the United States of America. To date, the group has performed for the Mayor of Manchester, has opened for the Royal Northern College of Music Session Orchestra showcase in April 2018, and most recently at the Manchester City Council Culture Awards at the Etihad Stadium. Northern Voices’ ethos is built on the key principles of professionalism, musical integrity, creativity, and collaboration, with each member having input into the group’s artistic vision. There is a shared responsibility for repertoire choices, influenced by pop classics and current chart hits from artists including Michael Jackson, Tori Kelly, Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and more. After an impressive debut season, the ensemble has ambitions to establish itself as one of the U.K.’s leading student a cappella groups, with concert tours planned for 2019 and this ICCA season. 

The Accidentals is one of two all-female a cappella groups from the University of St Andrews. Known for their strong sense of sisterhood, killer choreography, and all-around sass, they seek to promote female empowerment, supporting multiple women’s societies on campus. Many of their song choices embody their central message of girl power and they approach every performance with energy, a sense of humour, and the joy of singing together. The Accidentals is a very international group, with members from England, North America, Brazil, Portugal, Austria, and Lithuania, as well as Scotland, all brought together by their love of singing and iconic pink jackets. The Accidentals make a point of traveling as much as possible, often visiting Edinburgh, Dublin, and London to perform, and they’re currently planning a Euro Tour for this spring. The Accidentals is the only group from St. Andrews to place in the U.K. Semifinals for two consecutive years and placed 3rd in the 2016 SACC. Though The Accidentals compete and perform a lot during the year, the best part about being an Accidental is being  part of the empowering sisterhood. As a group of 12 best girlfriends, it is impossible to not feel supported and loved.

The Alleycats was set up by a group of friends in 2001 who shared their love of singing over a pint in the pub, and much to their delight, discovered the enjoyment that their music could evoke. Combining a range of musical influences, this feisty and fabulous group does not shy away from any genre of music. These 10 vocalists provide award-winning contemporary a cappella, combining a full range of male and female voices into a velvety blend. Originally an all-male group, in The Alleycats opened their doors to female members in2007 and began working their way towards the rich sound they have today. Every year, the group performs at events and corporate functions across the U.K., all whilst participating successfully in competitions. In March 2017, they were crowned the SACC Champions, with musical director Lauren Gage winning Best Arrangement. 

Since forming in January 2016, Tone Up has been a prominent feature on the University of Edinburgh campus and in the U.K.’s a cappella scene. A combination of creative song choices (past favourites include a mashup of Beyoncé and Papa Roach, and “Tribute” by Tenacious D), emotive and dramatic solos, and of course, their signature purple jackets create memorable performances for any competition or event in which they partake. In their competitive debut at the 2016 SACC, their performance won over both the audience and the judges, receiving awards for their choreography and vocal percussion. Since then, they have launched themselves onto the nationwide scene with appearances in consecutive Voice Festival U.K. University Finals in 2017 and 2018 and accruing numerous other outstanding awards and commendations along the way. The 2017-18 year also saw the release of Tone Up’s debut single and accompanying music video, New York an integral part of their Outstanding Overall Performance win from Voice Festival U.K. 2018. Outside of competition, Tone Up enjoys performing regularly in venues around the city, as well as at events as part of the wider Edinburgh A Cappella Society (EUAC). This year, Tone Up is excited to build on their previous work and bring their unique style of music to the ICCA for the first time. They can’t wait to perform for a new audience of a cappella lovers! 

Newcastle University's Tune Army is known for bringing the TUNE to the TOON! They are an enthusiastic group of close friends from a wide range of academic degrees, brought together by a mutual passion for singing. They write their own arrangements, performing anything from Basshunter and Muse to Abba and Kelly Clarkson, and they absolutely love it all! Outside of rehearsals, you'll find them bopping about the local karaoke bar, belting the classics and sporting their most outrageous fancy dress numbers! Some responses to their audition video include “Such a good looking group,” from Chyaro Hylton, “'Compared to last year, that was good,” from Honor Hierons, “I would love to hear you guys live.” - from Alpin McGregor, “Most impressive. I love it!” from Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys), and “Well narrated; David Attenborough will die soon - his job may be up for grabs!” from Sam Blayney.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Aliak Bedirian is a singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist based in London. She has been passionate about music from a young age and has extensive experience in various genres. She has been involved in classical, rock, big band/jazz, and musical theatre performances, and has a B.A. in music from the University of Bristol. Her a cappella career began with joining mixed group, The Bristol Suspensions, in 2014, becoming co-musical director in 2015 and co-founding the all-female group, Pitch Fight, in the same year. With The Bristol Suspensions, she won Outstanding Arrangement at an ICCA U.K. Quarterfinal and the group was crowned champions of Voice Festival U.K. in 2016. Since then, she has joined VoCollective, which recently competed in the 2018 AcaOpen, and continues to arrange and perform around London. Aliak looks forward to seeing what the ICCA has in store this year. 

Andrew Carter graduated with a Bachelor of Music (honors) in vocal and operatic performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Currently bass and music captain for international touring show “The Choir of Man,” Andrew is an in-demand performer and vocal director. He has worked as an Associate Artist with Birmingham Symphony Hall and is Junior Artist in Residence with Ark Music, having coached vocal and a cappella at schools, societies, and universities in Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Northampton, and at the International Music Education Expo at the London Olympia. 

AJ O'Neill has a varied musical background. He started, managed, choreographed, and arranged the music and harmonies for The Gleeks, the U.K.’s number one "Glee" tribute act, which performed both tracked and a cappella pop songs. AJ also has an impressive musical theatre resumé, having played the roles of Amos and Mary Sunshine in the West End cast of "Chicago," performed in the European premiere of "A Man of No Importance" and its West End transfer, and lead roles in the Irish premieres of "Songs for a New World," "The Last 5 Years," and "Listen to My Heart." As an educator, he teaches musical theatre performance at DanceWorks and Pineapple, two of the U.K.’s premier theatre studios. AJ has also sung lead on ad campaigns for Puma and toured the Netherlands with a close harmony Irish music show featuring male vocalists, "Druid," singing high tenor. 

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Helena Benthall, Ben Smith, Dan Mailer, Gemma Davies, Tarquin Penman, Iain McQueen and the team at The Queen’s Hall, 4Play, Isabella Peterson, Caitlin Morgan, Georgia Heriott and Steve Robb, and the team at Live Systems Ltd.; 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 three finishing groups advance to the ICCA United Kingdom Semifinal!

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