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 GREAT LAKES QUARTERFINAL

 

DeKalb High School
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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@varsityvocals

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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 Acafellaz, a bass a cappella group hailing from Illinois State University, was founded in 1999. They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary by establishing a scholarship at ISU, granted to a music student who works to bring music to the Bloomington-Normal community. The 'Fellaz travel around the state of Illinois and throughout the Midwest, performing and interacting with audiences of all ages. They have recorded and released one studio album and are currently recording a second, due for release in spring 2020. 

Downtown Voices is an a cappella group based at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This student led group includes members from a wide variety of majors who all share a deep passion for creating and sharing music. Downtown Voices performs at different on and off campus events around the city of Chicago and even in New York City! They are ecstatic to be back at ICCA for the fifth year in a row and cannot wait to share their set with you. No matter what, they will survive! 

No Comment loves performing almost as much as they love eating Taco Bell! Although only 15 years old, NoCo has already made a great name in UIUC a cappella history and doesn’t plan slowing down. They just released a full length studio album, No Heart, that is available on all streaming platforms. Give it a listen! 

One Note Stand is a mixed a cappella group at North Central College. Established in 2013, this group of musicians and friends is all about having fun, making music, and giving back. A very community-focused group, they regularly do tours of area schools, as well as nursing and retirement homes in and around Naperville. This year, they decided to take the plunge and audition for their first-ever ICCA and they can't wait to show you what they're made of! 

Paravox is the premier mixed vocal band at Northern Illinois University. Founded in 2017, this group aims to bring joy and authenticity to their campus in DeKalb, Ill. The name is a portmanteau of "paradox" and "vox,” which means "voice" in Latin. You can often find these folks quoting “Drake and Josh,” jamming to Kidz Bop, and discussing social justice issues. This is their first time competing in ICCA and they would like to thank their faculty advisor, Dean Kassel, as well as all of the wonderful members of the a cappella community at NIU. Go huskies! 

Sonata Problem was North Central's first co-ed a cappella group and has grown into NCC's first competitive a cappella group, joining the ICCA circuit in 2016. Two years ago, a member of Sonata Problem was awarded Outstanding Soloist at ICCA Quarterfinals. In the past, they have performed for high schools, local businesses, churches, in the Wisconsin Dells, on a live TV Milwaukee news show, and a wedding (for a Sonata alum!). They are also featured vocalists in two “Sleeping At Last” songs! Last year, they released their first album, Exposition, on Spotify, iTunes, and other streaming platforms. Sonata looks forward to another busy, yet fulfilling, year doing what they love and making beautiful music. 

Founded in 2014, The Harmelodics is Northern Illinois University’s only student-run women's a cappella group. They perform on campus and around the Chicagoland area. They have competed in the ICCA since 2016 and have participated in the Voice Jam Competition as well. They strive to change the a cappella world with their innovative arrangements, powerful sound, and strong passion for performance. 

The Naturals is the first and only all-male a cappella group at Marquette University. The Naturals was formed in 2003 by several guys who simply wanted to get together and sing. Eventually, this small group grew into a high-energy group of gentlemen who enjoy sharing their showmanship and talent with audiences across the Midwest. Highlighted by two trips to ICCA Semifinals, this group strives to improve season after season, and is always eager to prove themselves in front of a crowd. At the end of the day, The Naturals take pride in how much fun they get to have onstage. 

Through innovative musical arrangements and choreography, The Meladies, Marquette University’s premier all-female a cappella group, have been captivating audiences since their foundation in 2012. Together, they form a sisterhood of passionate women who strive to engage a wide variety of people with high-energy performances. From their early days performing in stairwells and lecture halls on Marquette's campus, the group has grown into one of Milwaukee's principal vocal ensembles and has performed for audiences across the Midwest. In only a few short years, the women of The Meladies have taken great strides and do not intend to slow down. 

Founded in 2001 at Northwestern University, The Undertones is a co-ed a cappella group that prides itself on maintaining a very high level of musicianship. The group placed 2nd at the 2018 ICCA Great Lakes Quarterfinals and received the award for Outstanding Soloist that ame year. The Tones have studied in every major school Northwestern has to offer and hail from all over, creating opportunities for the group to tour nationally (The White House, New York City, Orlando) and internationally (Edinburgh, Scotland, and Barcelona). Although much of their time together is spent rehearsing, performing, and recording, The Undertones are also a close group of friends who love spending time together and keeping the fun and silliness alive in the work they do! If you would like to keep up with their adventures, from road trips to late-night rehearsals, follow them on Facebook and Instagram @nuundertones.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Travis Erikson is in his 15th year as choral director and music theory instructor at DeKalb High School in DeKalb, Ill. He founded the DeKalb High School a cappella ensembles in 2004, and they have competed in the ICHSA since 2006. They have won awards for Outstanding Soloist, Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Arrangement, and Outstanding Vocal Percussion, and have advanced to ICHSA National Finals in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2015. He holds a B.A., M.M., and Performer's Certificate in music, and has studied piano, voice, choral music, and music theory at Whitman College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Northern Illinois University under the instruction of Leonard Richter, Donald Walker, Ed Klonoski, Brian Hyer, Susan Pickett, Eric Johnson, Timothy Stalter, Joe Miller, Robert Bode, Christine Janis, and Orna Arania. 

Michelle Schrier is currently earning her Master of Music in musicology at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis last May, where she majored in music and sang with the co-ed a cappella group The Amateurs for four years. During her time with the group, she competed in ICCA three times (twice advancing to the Semifinals) and competed in VoiceJam once (with the group winning Best Arrangement). She co-music-directed The Amateurs for two years and helped with the release of their 2018 studio album Infrared. She continues to sing at Northwestern in the all-graduate-student group The Keynotes. 

Lee Stovall currently teaches choir for the South Milwaukee school district, where he directs the award-winning a cappella groups, Delta V and The Poprockets, who recently released their debut album, Keep Myself. A founding member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison a cappella group, Fundamentally Sound, he has been interested in promoting contemporary a cappella education since college, and keeps busy arranging and coaching for groups around the world. He recently arranged for "Broadway Goes A Cappella 3" at Feinstein's/54 Below in New York City to rave reviews. Lee's work has earned ICCA awards and Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs), as well as spots on BOCA and BOHSA compilations. He has attended seminars with The Vocal Company and Vocomotion studios, volunteered for SingStrong Chicago and A Cappella Fest, and judged for Varsity Vocals, CARAs, and the AVAs. Lee has also worked with Camp A Cappella, directing ensembles from the middle school to collegiate levels, and is a board member of A Cappella University. Outside of the contemporary a cappella world, Lee sings with two professional classical ensembles, The Madison Choral Project and Present Music Milwaukee. 

Colleen Sye has been singing in choirs and chamber groups for many years, and began performing a cappella music in the Buffalo Grove High School champion show choir, The Expressions. Her love of music continued into her time at Monmouth College, where she studied music education and started the school's first all-female a cappella group, The Sassy Lassies. Colleen currently teaches choir at Algonquin Middle School, where she directs three choirs, an a cappella group, and a spring musical! 

Sam Wulterkens started singing a cappella at University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with The Innocent Men. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in music education, and is currently teaches at Oak Creek High School. With his co-director, Gillian Pacetti, Sam leads two ensembles at Oak Creek, who have been active members of the ICHSA community. His group, Knight Club, qualified for ICHSA Semifinals for three straight years, and competed at the 2019 ICHSA Finals. He also directs the highly-lauded Ladies Knight, who, along with Knight Club, recently qualified to compete at the Semifinal level. He serves as a board member and district representative for the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Joseph Aquino, Moira Rose, Elise Hackl, Angel Smith, Travis Erickson, DeKalb High School, and Elise Hackl; 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 Great Lakes 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