THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF HIGH SCHOOL

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

ICHSA MID-ATLANTIC SEMIFINAL

 

Northern Highlands Regional High School
Saturday, March 23, 2019

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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

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@varsityvocals

@varsityvocals

Follow us @varsityvocals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, and join the conversation using #ICCA and #ICHSA.

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

 

Highlands Voices is from Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, N.J. “The Voices,” as they are called around the school, were featured on the Lifetime show, “Pitch Slapped.” They were selected to compete in the 2018 National A Cappella Convention in Memphis, Tenn., where they came in 3rd place. They were the winners of the first-ever National A Cappella Convention (NACC) in 2015, the ICHSA National Champions in 2014, and ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Champions in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. They have performed workshops for NAfME, NJMEA, AEA, ACDA, and Bergen Teen Arts. The group also hosts the annual Highlands A Cappella Festival, which attracts some of the biggest a cappella coaches in the world as instructors. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube @highlandsvoices. 

The Highlands Belles have made their home at Northern Highlands Regional High School. The Belles are honored to participate in another ICHSA after placing 2nd in both their region's Quarterfinal and Semifinal last year. The Belles have also competed in the SingStrong Festival and NACC. They have worked extremely hard and can’t wait to perform for you today! The Belles wish the best of luck to all the groups and are excited to make today aca-awesome! Follow them on Twitter @highlandesbelles and Instagram @thehighlandsbelles.

Rebel Yell is Howell High School's oldest a cappella team and one of New Jersey's oldest contemporary a cappella groups. Rebel Yell has recently become an all-female group and enjoys the richness of tighter harmonies (and less drama). These ladies prioritize excellent musicianship and service to the community and perform 25 to 30 shows each year outside of the competition series. Music, friends, intelligence, and fun define this dynamic group and they are always ready to take the stage! Ladies and gentlemen, Rebel Yell!

The Foxy Jukebox, from Moorestown Friends School in southern New Jersey, is a new group that formed in September 2018. This group is composed of sophomore, junior, and senior students who love to sing and strive to grow stronger as a team of musicians. Many of them have participated in the school's choral and drama program for several years, and hope to use those skills to transform this group into a strong pillar of the MFS music program. They would like to thank their families and peers for being supportive of this new musical adventure and also hope that you enjoy their music this evening!

Highlands Harmonics hails from Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, N.J. Until two years ago, Harmonics had never competed on any level, but they placed 3rd at SingStrong N.Y. in both 2017 and 2018. This is Harmonics’ first year competing at ICHSA and the group couldn't be more excited.  They have worked with a cappella powerhouses such as Deke Sharon, Chesney Snow, Sara Wordsworth, and Russ Kaplan. When they're not singing, they're participating in sports, scouts, clubs, community service, and theatre. 

First Edition is West Windsor Plainsboro High School South’s premier a cappella group. One of three groups on campus, First Edition performs at township and school events, including The Mayor’s Ball, Arbor Day, the 9/11 Memorial, the Christmas Tree lighting, and sports games. On top of their repertoire of pop, R&B, and classic a cappella genres, First Edition also focuses on Christmas music, enjoys experimenting with college a cappella arrangements, and creates their own arrangements in house. Affiliated with the choir program at school, First Edition includes members from all three music programs (choir, orchestra, and band). With 17 members (four on each voice part, plus one beatboxer), First Edition is a diverse group with a powerful sound. Living in West Windsor, these singers maintain challenging academic and extracurricular schedules in addition to weekly two-hour rehearsals. Everyone in First Edition has a genuine passion for learning and performing. Their favorite pastimes are eating food, making a loud mess, and having impromptu jam sessions during random parts of the day! 

Evolve from Chesapeake High School in Pasadena, Md. was founded in 2016 by alumni Michael Brisentine. Last year, Evolve was invited to perform with Deke Sharon at his DCINY Total Vocal Experience up in New York City, where they were selected to perform a song on the Lincoln Center stage in front of 3,000 people! Evolve likes to have quite a bit of fun, and sometimes, their weekly check-ins take up about half the rehearsal. Hopefully none of you notice that. 

The Spartones hail from St. Charles High School in Waldorf, Md. Last year, they made their ICHSA debut with a 3rd place finish at the Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals and advanced to Semifinals. They placed 3rd at the SingStrong D.C. high school competition and brought home awards for Best Arrangement, Best Vocal Percussion, and Best Male Soloist. They have performed with Blue Jupiter, Ball in the House, FreePlay Duo, and Pitches Be Crazy, among other local music groups. The Spartones look forward to meeting new groups and sharing their love for a cappella.  

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

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.

Warren Bloom has been a regular ICCA and ICHSA judge since 2002 (including both 2006 Finals). He’s been musical director, bass, and/or vocal percussionist for numerous vocal groups, including professional summer group, The Hyannis Sound, New York rock/R&B septet, Invisible Men (numerous New York City and Boston Harmony Sweepstakes awards), New York pop/jazz quintet, Doo*Wa*Zoo (1998 MAC and 2000 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) nominees), University of Miami’s Jazz Vocal 2 (1997 DownBeat Award winner), and Brandeis University’s Spur of the Moment. Warren was music director, co-arranger, and sound tech for Minimum Wage's "Blue Code Ringo" at the New York Fringe Festival (Best Musical Comedy Act, 2002 Time Out New York awards) and subsequent off-Broadway productions. He has also run live sound for numerous vocal groups including Naturally 7, Ball in the House, Six13, and Unsung Heroes. He was a composer/lyricist in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, before getting his music education degree from Hunter College and spending three years as band and orchestra director at Talent Unlimited High School in Manhattan. He has been teaching general music and band at P.S. 8 (Brooklyn) since 2011, and has been a musical director in the theatre department at the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts since 1998. Warren was one of the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America's (CASA) official bloggers for NBC’s "The Sing-Off.

Carolyn Kiel has been singing and arranging a cappella music for 15 years. She got her a cappella start with The Vassar College Night Owls, and performed for nine years with The MetropoliTones in New York. Carolyn has recorded five a cappella albums and performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, and Giants Stadium. She has sung for such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, Zach Galifinakis, and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. By day, Carolyn works in corporate training and talent management, where she uses her newly-earned master's degree in industrial/organizational psychology. Her other skills include songwriting, vocal percussion, and driving in Manhattan.

Elie Landau is a Tony and Emmy-nominated theatre and film producer. He currently serves as Executive Producer at Triptyk Studios, where he oversees the company's slate of theatre, film, and television projects in development and production. He a Founding Partner of Ergo Entertainment, currently represented on Broadway by Steve Martin's "Meteor Shower," starring Amy Schumer, Keegan-Michael Key, Laura Benanti, and Jeremy Shamos. He is also a co-producer of numerous other Broadway shows including "Speed-the-Plow," "You're Welcome America," "The Homecoming," and "November," and several films, including the award-winning documentary "Paper Clips." Select prior management credits include the Broadway productions of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (and served as Executive Producer of its Grammy-nominated original cast recording), "Lucky Guy," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "Seminar," "The Addams Family," "Red," and "Spamalot." He is a member of The Broadway League and the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers (ATPAM). In his past life, he performed with several a cappella and choral ensembles and remains actively involved in the a cappella community as a master clinician, competition judge, awards nominator and voter, concert host, and music critic, with more than 300 album reviews published by the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB). 

Caitlin Nelson is a New York City-based actress, vocalist, events professional, and cheese aficionado. Originally from Tallahassee, Fla., she attended Florida State University, where she majored in music and sang with All Night Yahtzee. Since graduating, she has served as music director for Boston's The 508s, founder and music director for Seattle’s Shot in the Dark, and music director of Empire A Cappella. She currently directs, arranges for, and performs with the six-person vocal band, Concrete, and is a member of the Founder's Board for the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL). Caitlin has earned awards for her choreography and arranging and is featured on Voices Only 2009 as the soloist for All Night Yahtzee's “Missing the War” by Ben Folds. 

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 ICHSA 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