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



Fox Theatre
Saturday, February 2, 2019



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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.



Fortefied is made of 13 students from Diablo Valley College who aim to improve their musicianship and create smooth harmonies and walls of sound together. The group is composed of singers from all experience levels, ready to hit the ground running and take on the ICCA with their locked-in sound. From day one in August 2018, the group naturally blended and created strong harmonies together, valuing compassion, versatility, and perseverance. They may be singing pop tunes, but these singers have a wide variety of musical talents, from jazz instrumentalists to beatboxers. Within months, they have created unity, harmony, teamwork, and fortified a sound that showcase their shared love of music. 

So Noted is a group of nine singers representing the Diablo Valley College vocal jazz and a cappella ensembles. Although a few of the singers attended high school together, they formally met this past September when their instructor put them together as a group. The vocalists quickly bonded and set their sights on the ICCA. This balanced group of two sopranos, two altos, two tenors and baritones, a bass, and a beatboxer instantly impressed by their ensembles, solo voices and tight harmonies. This high-energy ensemble scrambled to put together music last fall made up of "dancing" favorites from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The group arranged tonight’s set specifically for this ensemble and is excited to make their ICCA debut. 

The Spartones at San Jose State University started as the school’s only all-gender a cappella group in October 2014. What began as a small ensemble of five voice majors has since expanded to include members of the entire campus community. This year, the team features musicians from a diverse medley of musical backgrounds, including a clarinetist, a percussionist, a composer, and a couple of classical Indian singers. With such a wide array of strengths, they bring out the best in one another. Regardless of where each of them is on their musical journey, they are proud to have come together to strengthen their individual and collective abilities. They sing in many genres, including pop, rock, indie. and vocal jazz. Their arrangements are mainly contemporary pop with 90’s R&B influences. They are proud to be lead by students working toward their music education degrees, but are run as a collective with everyone’s input take into account. They aim to learn as much as possible from one another, and to discover more about their talents than they could have apart. They are excited to share their love of music with you! 

The Stanford Mendicants is Stanford's original a cappella group, founded all the way back in 1963. Along with their rich history, The Mendicants typically perform a selection of ballads and love songs, as well as pop tunes for the student body. The Mendicants hail from all over the world, with hometowns including New York City, Hong Kong, Chicago, Saudi Arabia, and more. The Mendicants always have a blast performing at ICCA and are excited for tonight’s set. They hope you enjoy their show! 

The Afterglow is the only all-male a cappella group on The University of California, Davis campus! Getting their name from the after-party following a barbershop concert, The Afterglow's foundation is mainly in barbershop music. Over the years, their repertoire has grown to include many genres, such as rock, pop, country, R&B, soul, and hip-hop. Since the group’s inception in 2006, The Afterglow has been performing around the Davis community and for concerts and festivals all around California! Whether they are singing for a special serenade, wedding, or competition, their number-one goal is to spread their passion for music by engaging their audiences and having fun! 

DeCadence? DeCadance? DeCádince? What or who is that? DeCadence (“DEE-KAY-DENCE”) is a student-run, co-ed a cappella group from University of California, Berkeley that loves to belt top 40 hits, indie rock, jazz, and almost everything in between, all while wearing their classic gold capes.  They’re all about singing, performing, and having fun! Want to learn more about them? Check out their website,

Founded in 2001, Cloud 9 A Cappella is the first and longest-running a cappella group at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Known across California for their outrageous costumes, Cloud 9 has been competing at the ICCA for over a decade, most notably finishing 3rd at the 2015 Southwest Semifinal. After taking the 2017-2018 season off from competition, Cloud 9 is back and ready to rock the ICCA stage. 

Artists in Resonance, casually known on campus as AiR, is the premier co-ed a cappella group based out of the University of California, Berkeley. Their large and diverse repertoire consists of self-arranged pieces, with everything from top 40 hits and alternative rock to hip-hop and traditional fight songs. Founded in 1987, AiR has a rich history and established reputation on the Berkeley campus. During the school year, you can find them singing every Monday at noon on Sproul Plaza, but don’t be surprised if you also see them performing at the Telegraph Street Fair, Jack London Square, or even Santa Cruz! They perform all over California at various events, including appearances at the Annual Big Sing-Off (UC Berkeley/Stanford), the California A Cappella Festival (UCLA), and the ICCA!


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, top 40 hits, and award-winning original songs. In 2018, Business Casual won the National Champion title of the Harmony Sweepstakes a cappella competition. In previous years, they swept the San Francisco regional Harmony Sweepstakes a cappella competition, taking home awards including Best Arrangement, Audience Favorite, Best Original Song, and 1st place overall. Business Casual has performed at corporate events and conferences, including Dreamforce and Wizard World Comic Con, as well as community events such as the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival and San José Christmas in the Park. In addition to a regular schedule of private events, the group has played live public gigs at Neck of the Woods and Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco, and opened for Naturally 7 at the Great American Music Hall in 2017. In 2018, Business Casual had the honor of performing at Carnegie Hall in Varsity Vocals' 2018 Open Finals. The group’s first original single, “Ain’t No Way,” was released in March 2018. Business Casual also conducts workshops with local schools and participates in collaborations with other Bay Area artists. 



A Kansas City transplant, Derek Buchmann now calls the steep hills of San Francisco home. He has over a decade of hands-on a cappella experience, specifically as a clinician, arranger, and adjudicator. Derek is an alumni of Missouri State University and former music director of The Missouri State Beartones. The group has garnered several accolades, including a 3rd place finish at ICCA Finals. Currently, he fills his time with traveling, arranging, and long walks with his dog, Apollo.

Evan Fraser has been singing for as long as he can remember. Outside of church and school choirs, he sang with the a cappella groups Take it SLO at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and then after college with Frequency in Orange County. He's been on production staff as the graphics and competition coordinator, and was a masterclass clinician for the L.A. A Cappella Festival for the past seven years, and currently sings with the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus. 

Grace Jackson's love for collegiate a cappella began in USC's Reverse Osmosis (RO). During her tenure as president, the group hosted and won 1st place (as well as every individual award) at the ICCA Quarterfinals, eventually moving on to Finals at the Lincoln Center.  Grace also produced RO’s fourth full-length album, choreographed during all four years, and was featured as a soloist on Voices Only 2006.  Over the past decade, she has served as both the ICCA West Coast Producer and an ICCA day-of producer across the U.S. She has also worked as a choreographer for local musical theatre groups and now works at Netflix. 

Jessie Louise Mark holds a bachelor's degree from Duke University, where she majored in history and minored in music, and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. During her four years as a member and director of Duke’s award-winning all-female a cappella group, Lady Blue, Jessie developed a love for music theory, arranging and a cappella education. Upon graduation, she taught music theory and vocal arranging at a cappella festivals around the country, ultimately co-founding Miami’s a cappella festival, The Betsy’s A Cappella Festival, in 2014. Jessie currently sings and beatboxes with all-female vocal band VXN. She is currently based in the Bay Area where she works as an HR Consultant. Contact Jessie at



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Pete and Trina from Yoakum Light and Sound, our guest performance group and tonight's emcees, Business Casual, and all the staff at the Fox Theatre, especially Eric, Lori, Michelle, Ernie and Nigel; 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 West 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