THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF COLLEGIATE

A CAPPELLA

DEAR FRIENDS,

 

Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 24th 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 660 groups and more than 10,000 singers at 90 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 Perfectfranchise remains the highest-grossing musical series of all time.

The stories of our real ICCA competitors were also the subject of the TV docu-series "Sing It On," which followed 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 three 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 fourth 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 24 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2020 season will take 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 CENTRAL QUARTERFINAL

 

Binghamton University
Saturday, January 25th, 2020

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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

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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 four 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 at The Town Hall in New York City on Saturday, April 18th.

The high school tournament is now in its 15th year and continues to grow every year. We are now holding Quarterfinal rounds in all of our regions, and the 2020 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 on Saturday, April 17th.

The Open Tournament celebrated its third year in summer 2019 and featured six Semifinals that lead to the Open Finals featuring those six Regional Champions, two Wild Card Champions, and our 2019 ICHSA and ICCA Champions. Those 10 groups competed in October 2019 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.



 For a full tournament schedule, visit us at 
www.varsityvocals.com/events

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

 

The Harpur Harpeggios, fondly known as "The Pegs", is the only all-female a cappella group at Binghamton University in Vestal, N.Y. The Pegs typically includes between eight and 20 members (though the size is not restricted to these numbers). Formed in 1983, the group was spawned by one visionary member of the Harpur Chorale. They have since grown to perform at sporting events, nursing homes, charity events, schools, and at a variety of other gigs throughout each semester and over their winter tour. Recently, The Pegs were featured on the social media accounts of Kelly Clarkson and Atlantic Records, recorded six songs, and even performed on the Radio City Music Hall stage to open for the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular.

Hooked On Tonics has not been on Suny Oneonta campus for long, but they have invested time and work into making their campus a more welcoming and musically entertaining environment. Their main goal as a group is to perform at gigs and events on campus for their fellow students and faculty. Their campus has a little of everything and they love coming together and making music not only for their student body but for themselves. They mostly perform current pop hits and throw in some good old classics to mix things up.

Mic Drop is Duquesne University's first and only a cappella group on campus. They are entirely student-led, and have been so since their creation in the spring of 2017. This is their third year competing in the ICCA and they are so excited to share the stage with such amazing groups. From concerts to community performances to vocal workshops with local high schools, Mic Drop is making a name for itself in and out of the city of Pittsburgh. 

Founded in 1998, The University of Rochester Midnight Ramblers have established themselves as one of the most entertaining TTBB groups in the country. Guided by two central tenets of performance and innovation, The Ramblers push the boundaries of what a cappella can be in both live and recorded works. Their most recent album, This Side Up, includes "Hello," which was nominated for Collegiate A Cappella Song of the Year by the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB). In 2016 and 2018 the Ramblers advanced to the ICCA Central Semifinal, winning awards for Outstanding Arrangement in 2016 and Outstanding Vocal Percussion in 2016 and 2018. If you like what you hear, you can find them on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. 

Note to Self is Binghamton University’s only and everyone's favorite community service a cappella group. With a specific focus on civic engagement, they not only serve and spread joy to the campus community, but also to the local community, through their empowering music and volunteer efforts. Each semester, Note to Self participates in the Binghamton a cappella tradition, Dollar Show, and hosts an end-of-semester show in which they perform 10-15 songs for students, community members, and family. NTS performs at many events throughout the academic year, which has included hockey games, TEDx conferences, a cappella invitationals, and much more. They also organize an annual tour in which they facilitate workshops for high school students in vocal groups and perform shows across the Northeast for one week. In August 2019, Note to Self released their first ever EP, Tied to the Tracks, available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Instagram Music. They are excited to keep growing as a group by competing in ICCA for the first time. 

Pitch Slapped is SUNY Oneonta's all-female a cappella group. 

Premium Blend is Ithaca College's only all-female aligned a cappella group. They sing music of all genres that embody the spirit, soul, and talents of their unique and gifted members. Premium Blend is passionate about lifting up female voices and providing an outlet for female-identifying and female-aligned individuals to express themselves, form community, and band together. They believe that women are powerful and all the more so when they are together. For the past several years, they have competed at the ICCA with music that is most meaningful to them. They enjoy creating sets that follow a theme with resonance for the whole group, whether that is calling to attention to injustices that women face in society or supporting one another through hard times. They strive to uplift one another and create art with their voices, movement, and friendship. 

The Accidentals is Ithaca College's newest all-inclusive a cappella group! Founded in the fall of 2017, they serve as a second chance to those who are interested in a cappella and may not have gotten accepted to all of Ithaca College's other incredible a cappella ensembles on their first or second try. They don't limit themselves to a specific genre of music, but aspire to explore all realms of vocal opportunities and arrangements. Since its establishment, the group has dreamed of competing in the ICCA and were often told that they would have to wait years for that to be possible. However, The Accidentals are on a streak of proving that although they’re new, they’re just as capable as any group with years of experience. Theirfirst concert had one of the best turnouts of first concerts in the history of Ithaca College a cappella, and after only two years, they have performed at invitationals all around New York State and are frequently contacted to perform at local gigs. They know what it is like to be seen as underdogs, and the world isn't ready for what they have in store! 

The Class Notes is Cornell University's oldest co-ed a cappella group. They were founded in 1983 as a jazz group, and have expanded since to perform a wide variety of genres, including pop and R&B. Over the years, their crazy concert themes, original arrangements, and love for Tostitos Hint of Lime chips have earned them a place in the hearts of past and present Cornellians. The Class Notes have members from all over the country and world, and there are over 200 Class Notes alumni scattered across the globe. When they're not jamming out together in rehearsal, they're getting bubble tea, listening to Ariana Grande, and getting caught up on the new Gen Z trends. Above all else, they love making music and spending time together to escape the stress of academics and Ithaca's long winters. 

Established in 1993, Rhythm Method is Binghamton University’s only 80s, 90s and early 2000s, co-ed a cappella group. Primarily performing “the songs you grew up to” provides a unique repertoire compared to other groups. The group has no size limit, but only takes in new members at the beginning of each semester. Rhythm Method rehearses two weeknights for two hours each and then four hours on Sunday. They perform multiple times throughout the semester, with their two main performances being the Dollar Show at the beginning of the semester and their Semester Show towards the end. This 15-member group provides an exciting and fun outlet for participants to express themselves, make friends, and perform their favorite songs. Among their favorite performances is their winter tour where they perform at different locations across New York State. Additionally, in the beginning of June, Rhythm Method performs at A Cappella in the Park, an event in which all nine a cappella groups at Binghamton University perform with their alumni in Central Park. You can check out their past albums on iTunes or Spotify and past performances on YouTube! Rhythm Method hopes to continue growing their alumni relations and contributing to the Binghamton community.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Brandon Burgess attended SUNY Potsdam, where he received his bachelor's degree in music education, with clarinet as his primary instrument. As a freshman, Brandon auditioned for and was accepted into The Potsdam Pitches, the premier co-ed a cappella group on Potsdam's campus. During his time in the group, he arranged music and served as music director, assistant music director, alumni secretary, webmaster, and president. Brandon held a part-time instrumental music teaching position before returning to SUNY Potsdam to pursue his master's degree in music performance, with clarinet as his primary medium. During this period, he also returned to The Potsdam Pitches, helping them place at ICCA Semifinals and and progress on to ICCA Finals as Central Champions. Brandon is currently teaching in New York State. 

Austin Kiley is a teacher of vocal music, music theory and history, drama, and musical theatre at Vestal High School in Vestal, N.Y., where he also founded and directs three a cappella groups: Bear Necessities, The Vestellas, and The Bearitones. Bear Necessities has been featured on BOHSA and competed in several ICHSA seasons, receiving various individual awards and placing multiple times at Semifinals. Austin holds a B.M. and M.M. in vocal music education from Ithaca College, where he sang with Ithacappella for four years. During his tenure with the group, he competed at ICCA Finals twice and served as president of the group. This will be Austin's fourth year as an instructor at A Cappella Academy in Los Angeles, where he has worked with many of the leaders of the contemporary a cappella scene. He runs an a cappella program in Central New York called The Vocal Connection that pairs high school and collegiate a cappella groups together for a year-long mentorship. He also sings with the Southern Tier Singers' Collective and is active with numerous theatre companies in the Binghamton, N.Y. area. He is elated to be a judge at this competition and thrilled for the opportunity to see and hear such wonderful groups perform. 

Austin Matson currently serves as the director of secondary choirs in the Attica Central School District. Prior to teaching in Attica, Austin was the choir director in Dryden, N.Y., where he directed Dryden High School's Beyond Measure. He received his bachelor’s degree in music education and acting at SUNY Potsdam and his master’s degree from Buffalo State. While studying at SUNY Potsdam, Austin was a member of The Potsdam Pitches, a co-ed a cappella group. With The Pitches, Austin served as music director, choreographer, and arranger through several seasons of competition. He believes that singing is the most human of all art forms and has the power to inspire and motivate people of all ages, lifestyles, and backgrounds.

Bobby Morano’s involvement in a cappella started over 10 years ago when he began working on simple arrangements for the select choir at his high school. After catching the a cappella bug, Bobby sang with The Pointercounts during his undergraduate career at SUNY Potsdam, from which he graduated magna cum laude. Regular competitors at ICCA, the group advanced to Semifinals in 2014 using two of his arrangements. Since graduation, Bobby earned a master's degree in music education at the University of Buffalo. For the past six years, he has taught music at Windsor High School in Windsor, N.Y., where he implemented an a cappella program. His group, Noteworthy, holds regular concerts and tours state-wide.

Melissa Rashford
is a proud alumna of The Mandarins, Syracuse University’s oldest all-female a cappella group. Under her direction, The Mandarins competed and performed throughout the Northeast and earned national recognition by advancing to the ICCA Finals. Melissa holds degrees in music industry and business administration from SU and currently works in the University's Division of Marketing and Communications. She arranges for local ensembles and adjudicates area festivals and musical theatre productions. Melissa also teaches high school field band and musical theatre and takes every possible opportunity to encourage her students to join a cappella groups when they get to college. 

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

Patty Floyd
 Accountant

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Sara Yood
Senior Producer

Courtney Jensen
 Associate Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Bronwyn Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Gemma Davies
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Christopher Witham
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Elise Hackl
PA/MA Program Coordinator  
ICHSA Great Lakes, Midwest, & Southwest Producer

Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West 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 two placing groups will advance to the 2020 ICCA Central 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?


FALL 2020