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

 

University of Waterloo
Saturday, February 22nd, 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

 

Equivox is the first competitive a cappella group at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. The group was originally formed in October 2017 from members of the non-competitive, non-auditioned group The A Cappella Project (TAP), was Western University's only a cappella group at that time. The executives of the group decided to hold auditions for a new group, and held off on competing that first year, working on learning more complicated repertoire in a smaller, more focused group. Last year, Equivox was thrilled to make its ICCA debut, as well as attend the invitational Queen’s Annual A Cappella Competition, where their vocal percussionist was recognized. Multiple times per week, you can find the members of Equivox rehearsing their student-arranged music and performing together. There are currently eight male and eight female voices creating their sound, two of them also being beatboxers. Equivox strives to live up to its name, which means “balanced voices,” and being worthy of performing on the world stage. They are ecstatic to be back for the 2020 ICCA and to perform their new set! 

Established in the fall of 2017, In Full Colour is an award-winning mixed a cappella group from the University of Waterloo. The group draws inspiration from musicals and was founded to push the boundaries of a cappella by combining music and choreography into masterful storytelling. They strive to give audiences unique and emotional experiences. 

Noteworthy is the newest addition to Wilfrid Laurier University’s a cappella family, and although it was only established in 2018, the group has already proven its talent. This group is full of incredibly enthusiastic and talented singers who are passionate about a cappella! Their favourite pastime is to go out together, especially to the local arcade bar next to their school, and randomly breaking out into song. One of the best parts of the group is that they are not major-specific and have members from almost every academic department. They also thrive on energy, especially when one of their members got so excited during a piece that he punched over his music stand. One of their favourite events during the year is their annual fundraiser, in which they embarrass students by singing to them in front of their class. They are super excited for this competition season! 

Repercussions is an all-female a cappella group at Western University that is brand-new this year! They do not have a genre preference, but specialize in songs that make them feel like world-conquering women. They formed this group to fight the stigma that all-female a cappella groups are not capable of as much as all-gendered or all-male groups and they are excited to take the ICCA stage this year to inspire other a cappella women to ditch the bass and figure out just how much they can do with high voices. They have been working on including complicated and exciting choreography and have recently been experimenting with unique and rarely used a cappella syllables. They hope you enjoy their set! 

Ryenamics is Ryerson University's number-one a cappella group! They get to say that because they are also Ryerson's only a cappella group. Ryenamics was founded by a small group of friends singing in random stairwells. Now, they are a slightly bigger group of friends singing in random empty classrooms and hoping no one kicks them out! They started off this year with only six returning members, but through lots of annoying Instagram posts, sheer willpower, and actual blood, sweat, and tears, they got the most amazing batch of new members competing with them this year! This is their second year competing in the ICCA and they are in it to win it (rehearsal is also a solid excuse not to do homework, right?). They are happy to present all their hard work and hope you enjoy their set as much as they enjoyed making it! 

Surround Sound is a co-ed a cappella group that was originally founded by members of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music, but now extends to other colleges and faculties at U of T and beyond. Drawing from a variety of pop music styles, the group prides itself on featuring hidden gems and original songs that leave you wanting more! As students at Canada’s largest university, it's easy to feel like one in a million (or at least 80,000), but their rehearsals provide a space to form lasting friendships and participate in the arts. Whether Surround Sound is performing a cover or an original, onstage or in studio, the group is always ready to give it their all. Members come from a variety of musical backgrounds, but join together to create something unique and beautiful. Now entering their fifth season, the singers of Surround Sound are thrilled to return to the ICCA after making their debut in 2019! 

The AcaBellas is the University of Waterloo's first all-female a cappella group! Founded in 2009, The AcaBellas sing anything from top radio hits to obscure indie tracks to Korean pop songs! They also promote skills development among members through their arranging, beatboxing, and choreography teams. The AcaBellas have appeared in three ICCA competitions and have danced their way to the spiciest spot! On any scale, these Bellas are three chili peppers hot! 

Founded in 2009 by students at the University of Waterloo, The Unaccompanied Minors were an early part of what is now Canada’s largest university a cappella tradition. This mixed-voice group specializes in bringing a unique flavour to a wide range of genres and artists. Mashups and re-inventions are their specialty and they strive to bring out the musicality in everything they do. They’re passionate about bold, unapologetic performances with  belting and kick-ass choreo, but they can be silly, too ("Talk Dirty” probably should never have been done in a choral style, but they did it and still sing it to this day). Over the past decade, hundreds of students have built a community, learned to lead, and found their voice with The Minors. Here's to another decade of carrying that tradition forward! 

The Water Boys is the University of Waterloo's first all-male a cappella group. ICCA Finalists in 2017, they sing musically intricate arrangements of top 40, rock, and classic songs and put on fun performances on and off campus. 

Tunes. Beats. Awesome. (TBA) is an award-winning co-ed collegiate a cappella group at the University of Toronto. Formed in 2003, TBA has made a name for itself with its vibrant singers and innovative arrangements. TBA specializes in pop and R&B, but they take pride in performing a diverse repertoire, which includes K-pop and Canadian artists. In previous ICCA seasons, TBA has won honourable mentions and advanced to Semifinals on several occasions. The group members come from all corners of the world, bringing new and diverse strengths each year.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Christopher Brody is an a cappella producer, arranger, coach, performer, enthusiast, and cheerleader. In 2016, Christopher graduated with a music education degree from Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Mich. A proud alumnus of Gold Vibrations, he was a rare four-year music director and part of the team that helped lead Gold Vibrations to the 2016 ICCA Finals. Christopher is now an award-winning producer and arranger, having produced and arranged four tracks that are featured on BOHSA and BOCA, and also a member of Inverse Vocals. He continues to work with many college and high school groups to help students learn and grow about the art form he is so passionate about. His dream is to create the first-ever a cappella group composed completely of pugs. 

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 Region Champions. Brandon is currently teaching in New York State. 

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 acappellaprofessor.com

Jack Phillipson is currently in his first year of teaching high school choir after a busy college career in a cappella. He found his passion for a cappella halfway through college, and spent his time arranging and directing for Euphoria A Cappella. With successful ICCA ventures and nationwide travel for competitions, Jack helped Euphoria become a group of artists and, in turn, fierce competitors. Thanks to some inspiring people in the a cappella community, Jack's passion has turned into a career. Whether arranging, rehearsing, or gigging with his professional group, Inverse, Jack is just getting started.

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