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



Northern Highlands Regional High School 
Friday, January 25, 2019



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




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



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.



Bergen Sound proudly hails from the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, N.J. Originally founded in the early 2000s, Bergen Sound was the school's first a cappella group. The wonderful choir director Mr. Louise Spinelli supervises the group’s in-school rehearsals, and was actually a group member when he attended the Academies himself. The group was exclusively all-male until this year when the president of Bergen Sound and the school’s all-female group, Femme Fatale, agreed to team up to create a mixed group. As the Bergen County Academies (BCA) includes many different academies that cater to various interests, the group is proud to have members in the academies of theatre, instrumental music, medical science, and science and technology. Specializing in pop and rock music, plus holiday songs for that time of year, the new Bergen Sound is thrilled to broaden its horizons and can’t wait for what’s to come!

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 regional Quarterfinal and Semifinal last year. The Belles have also competed in the SingStrong Festival as well as the National A Cappella Convention. 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

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 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.

LumeNAtion is from Newark Academy in Livingston, N.J. This is the group’s fourth year in the ICHSA. Last year, LumeNAtion placed 1st at Quarterfinals and competed in Semifinals for their second time. The group is incredibly excited to perform and hopes that you enjoy their set today!

Cresskill High School’s Note-oriety, from Cresskill, N.J., is the school’s 15-member women’s a cappella group. Started in 2015, Note-oriety sends a message of positivity and empowerment to all who will listen.  They hope that each person they touch with their music will pay it forward and help the group spread their message to all.

Scarlet Sound
is entering its third year on the competitive circuit. For two years in a row, Scarlet Sound has garnered distinguished ratings at the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival and was named the top vocal ensemble in Monmouth County. Last April, Scarlet Sound placed 1st in its group at the Virginia International Music Festival, and brought home an Outstanding Soloist award. They are excited to keep growing as an ensemble and are extremely honored to share their set with you today!

Cresskill High School’s SoundXplosion, from Cresskill, N.J., is the school’s 15-member mixed a cappella group.  SoundXplosion made the transition to contemporary a cappella in 2014 and has participated in the ICHSA in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018. SoundXplosion was also part of the A&E Network’s television show, “Pitch Slapped.” The group cannot think of a better way to spend their time than to kick back and share the gift of music, making the world a better place for everyone!

Vox Blue
is a brand-new group at Delaware Valley Regional High School in Frenchtown, N.J., specializing in pop music with a jazz twist. The group’s mission is to bring high quality vocal music to Frenchtown, primarily through community service concerts. This is Vox Blue’s first time competing at the ICHSA and they are extremely excited to be a part of this event!



Neil Aaronson is a professor of physics and acoustics at Stockton College. A founding member of The TCNJ Trentones, Neil continued working with a cappella ensembles in graduate school at Michigan State University. Since 2008, he has helped the a cappella community grow from one ensemble with 10 members to three ensembles with over 45 singers, all working together to foster musical growth at their campus. He is the executive director of the ASTA/NJ Chamber Music Institute, assistant conductor of the Stockton Oratorio Society, and vice president of the Board of Directors for the Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey.

Dubbed “the next generation of a cappella specialist” by “Pitch Perfect” and “The Sing-Off” vocal producer, Deke Sharon, Kari Francis is an avid vocalist, composer, and educator. Based in New York, Kari has shared the stage with Taylor Swift at the American Country Music Awards, collaborated with Imogen Heap in her “Earth” project concert series, and competed on Season 3 of NBC’s “The Sing-Off” with Kinfolk 9. Kari studied composition with Lei Liang and Chinary Ung at UC San Diego and conducting with Mark Scatterday and Brad Lubman at the Eastman School of Music. She taught musicianship classes through the Eastman Community Music School, and was assistant conductor to the Eastman Women's Chorus and the Amadeus Children’s Choir Chorale. Following her time at Eastman, Kari was a Conducting Fellow at the Young People's Chorus of New York City. She directs "The Art of A Cappella" at CUNY Hunter College, an ensemble-class dedicated to exploring, arranging, and performing contemporary a cappella music. In addition to her vocal projects, Kari has been an active lecturer and clinician since 2009. She routinely gives workshops on musicianship, arranging, and vocal percussion at music festivals and vocal camps across the U.S. Kari graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from UC San Diego and holds an M.A. in music education from the Eastman School. Find her online at

Meredith Strang O'Sullivan has been active in the a cappella community as a singer, arranger, judge, director, and group mentor for nearly 25 years. She is currently the music director for Treble NYC, which recently appeared in the movie, “How to Be Single.” As an arranger for NYC A Cappella, she creates award-winning arrangements for vocal groups across the nation. During her college years, she directed The University of Delaware Deltones, who went on to be cast on NBC's “The Sing-Off.” Meredith is a member of the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL), the Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA), and was also a producer for CASA’s VoCALnation Festival, featuring headliners The Swingle Singers and Duwende. In addition to her love of a cappella, Meredith sings in a rock band, a jazz duo, and does backing vocals for artists such as Phillip Phillips, A Great Big World, and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank the Northern Highlands Board of Education, Northern Highlands Administration, Northern Highlands Custodial Staff, NH Music and Performing Arts Association, our tabulators James Doris and James Welton, our timekeeper Robert Leet, Irene Lahr, Teddi Sotiropoulos, and Kyle Kubicki; 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 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic 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