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 MIDWEST QUARTERFINAL

 

Washington University in St. Louis
Saturday, February 8th, 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

 

"Astha” means faith in Hindi. Astha A Cappella is Saint Louis University’s premier co-ed, fusion a cappella group. Established in 2006, the group was started by six students who came together to sing Indian fusion music, hang out, and jam. They had faith (astha) in music and Astha A Cappella was born. Astha has grown from jam sessions to complex compositions, and includes singers from a variety of backgrounds who enjoy singing a mixture of melodies that combine Western and Eastern musical influences. 

Since they were founded in 2000, The Bare Naked Statues have gained a reputation in the Saint Louis University community for their innovative style, musical talent, and creative performances. As the only all-male a cappella group and the first a cappella group of any kind at their school, The Bare Naked Statues have set themselves apart from many other a cappella groups on our campus. 

Beyond All Reason, lovingly known as BAR, is Saint Louis University’s one and only all-female a cappella group. Since the group’s founding in 2002, the ladies of BAR have been celebrating music and sharing their passion with one another and anyone who’ll lend an ear to listen. With a repertoire including artists such as Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Misterwives, Chance the Rapper, and Panic! At the Disco, a little bit of every member’s unique taste and talent shines through. You can find them performing at events in the St Louis community, on SLU’s campus, and at their Spring and Fall semester concerts, which are always themed with a BAR pun. A few of their favorites are “Bed, Bath, and Beyond All Reason,” “In a Galaxy BAR, BAR Away,” “BARch Madness,” “Holiday in BARbados,” and “BARely Ready.” BAR’s just…beyond all reason! 

Celebrating their 10-year anniversary, Decadence (dek-uh-dense) is a co-ed a cappella group based out of Saint Louis University. The name Decadence stems from two vital parts of their existence: deca from our ten original singers (plus one awesome beatboxer), and cadence, a musical term that describes the progression of two chords leading to closure within a musical composition. They perform a repertoire that spans many genres, including rock, indie, pop, country, Christian, oldies, and R&B, at events both on and off campus. In addition, Decadence prioritizes involvement in the community through various service initiatives as part of our core mission. 

Dissonance is Millikin University's mixed a cappella group. The group was founded in 2016 and quickly became an important part of the campus community. This year’s ensemble is composed of 16 members representing many different majors and minors from commercial music to psychology to philosophy and pre-law. THey aspire to do great things within their community and campus through music. Dissonance has competed in the ICCA for the last two years. In 2019, they were honored to win 1st place in St. Louis at Quarterfinals and move on to Semifinals. They love competing, both for the fun of it and because it allows them to perform for a larger audience. This ICCA season, their main goals are to grow as a group and to have a positive impact on the people watching their set. In addition to competing in the ICCA, Dissonance performs on campus, in the Decatur community, and on tour. They have tours in the fall and spring semesters to visit and perform for high schools in the Midwest region. Dissonance is a united ensemble and they truly do consider themselves a family. 

Mosaic Whispers is WashU’s oldest co-ed a cappella group, having celebrated their 25th birthday at their annual concert in Graham Chapel in 2016! They sing music from every genre and tour each fall and spring with recent stops in Chicago, San Diego, New York, Washington D.C., and Boston. The Whispers compete internationally, with a recent 1st place finish at the 2017 ICCA Midwest Quarterfinals and a performance at Broadway’s Beacon Theater in the 2016 ICCA Finals. Last year, they competed as Finalists at the National A Cappella Convention (NACC) in Memphis. Their 11 studio albums have received praise from a cappella critics, including two Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB) Top Tracks of the Year from their latest album Oasis (2018), which can be found on iTunes and Spotify. 

The UCM RainbowTones is the one and only a cappella group on the UCM campus. The group is based on principles of acceptance and equality for all. They do not require members to be majoring in music, only that they love it. 

Saint Louis University's Six Eight Christian A Cappella is a co-ed, Christian/spiritual a cappella group committed to performing music from a variety of genres, grounded in Christian perspective. They aim to be a strong Christian witness among both the a cappella performance groups and campus worship communities. Their threefold mission of ministry, worship, and entertainment, guides their repertoire selection and spirit of performance. As an inclusive Christian community, they seek to maintain an atmosphere of respect, creativity, and collaboration. 

Sur Taal Laya, or STL, is Washington University in St. Louis's fusion a cappella group combining classic Bollywood and South Asian hits with popular Western hip hop, R&B, and pop. Sur corresponds to a musical note, Taal is the beat or rhythm which binds a composition in time, and Laya is the tempo of a composition. Together, Sur, Taal, and Laya create a complete musical experience and together create the namesakes of their group.

Sweet Nothings is Truman State University's only co-ed a cappella group. The group was formed in 2005, and they released an album titled Get Pitch or Die Tryin' in 2013. The current group loves spending time together, even outside of rehearsals! They’ve been known to occupy a sand volleyball court or two. This year includes nine men and eight women, with five freshmen, three sophomores, and nine juniors. Despite their different ages, majors, and experiences, they unite to share their love of singing. Every year, Sweet Nothings hosts an annual concert called “Whispers,” in which they invite other a cappella groups to perform. When members of Sweet Nothings were asked about their favorite part of being in the group, most of them responded with mushy heartfelt messages about the amount of love everyone has for one another. You can find them rehearsing Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in Ophelia Parrish. In addition to a shared love for  singing, a cappella music, and performance, these singers also share the desire for true friendships, which elevates their performance, onstage and in practice. They aren't a SNamily for nothing!


GUEST PERFORMERS


Titan Harmony is composed of 18 singers who enjoy singing together in various styles. Outside of Titan Harmony, you can find many of these faces rehearsing with the show choir, acting in the school plays, or practicing for various athletic teams, including golf and tennis. This is Titan Harmony's second year as an a cappella group! They look forward to improving their sound, creating memories, and making their school music and theatre departments proud. They want to wish all the other groups luck in creating their unique art onstage.

Viva Voce is the treble voice a cappella group at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis, Mo. Viva was founded in 2016 after being inspired from attending an ICCA at Washington University.  Currently, Viva Voce is a group of 16 students ranging from 8th grade to seniors in high school.  This group is completely extracurricular and meets outside of the school day, which allows each member to pursue other passions, such as tennis, science olympiad, theatre, cross country, regatta, field hockey, and soccer. Even as they keep busy with these other endeavors, they are always excited to unite through their love of a cappella and vocal music.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Eion Blanchard hails from piano and vocal jazz, but broke into a cappella during his undergraduate years at the University of Florida, where he spent two years arranging for and directing No Southern Accent. Eion then co-founded Gestalt and served as music director for its first two seasons (#dvdp). Under Eion's tenure, Gestalt was named an ICCA Quarterfinal Champion and runner-up for ICCA South Semifinals, SoJam XV, Boston Sings (BOSS) 2018, and the 2018 NACC. Gestalt broke records at the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) garnering 11 nominations with its debut album, Beyond The Archetype, and winning multiple. Since graduating from Gestalt, Eion has stayed involved in the a cappella scene by leading masterclasses and now judging for Varsity Vocals, all while pursuing his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Ruthie Carter currently serves as assistant director at Oakville High School. Her love for a cappella music started in high school. Ruthie is honored to have been part of the 2013 Parkway North's Powder room, where they received 3rd place at ICHSA Nationals in New York City. She continued to be involved in a cappella during her collegiate years, serving as music director for A Cub Bella. Now as a choir director, Ruthie directs Oakville's all-male a cappella group, 2Legit

Taylor Hawkins is a lifelong vocalist and sang through high school, college, and professionally. Taylor has always been especially passionate about a cappella and has had the privilege of working with high school and college groups across the state. Taylor was a part of The True Men from Truman State University (go Bulldogs!) and is currently in a professional group called One Too Many A Cappella. Taylor is super excited to be here and wishes luck to all the groups tonight! 

A native of Branson, Mo., Giovanni Hernandez is currently the vocal music teacher at Raytown Middle School in Kansas City, Mo., where he leads a comprehensive vocal music program of over 300 students. Before his tenure at Raytown Middle School, he attended Missouri State University where he majored in vocal music education and sang with The Missouri State University Chorale, Men’s Chorus, Choral Union, Multicultural Ensemble, and The Beartones, MSU’s all-male a cappella group. With the Chorale, he has performed at various state, regional, and national conferences, and the China International Chorus Festival, and toured all across the United States, South Africa, and Scandinavia. During his time with The Beartones, Giovanni served as music director, leading the group to compete in ICCA Finals in New York City and record a full-length studio album. Professional affiliations include the National Education Association (NEA), American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA), and the A Cappella Education Association (AEA). 

Luke Thomas has a B.S and a M.A. from Missouri State University. During his time at Missouri State, he sang in the Missouri State University Chorale, touring the United States, South Africa, Scandinavia, China, and more. Luke was also a part of the all-male a cappella group, The Beartones, from 2014-2018, and served as the group’s business director, brand manager, choreographer, and president. During his time with The Beartone, Luke received three separate awards for Outstanding Choreography, and led the group to ICCA Finals in 2018. Most recently, Luke served as a production assistant with Varsity Vocals where he aided in producing shows, working social media, and running the current website. Currently, he works full-time at Missouri State University as an instructor and advisor. He is very happy to stay connected with the ICCA and be back as a judge. 

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Danielle Sutherland, Viva Voce, Washington University, 560 Music Center, Ron Weiss, Edric Mitchell; 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 Midwest 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