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 UNITED KINGDOM QUARTERFINAL

 

Church Hill Theatre
Saturday, February 1st, 2020

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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

 

Northern Lights A Cappella is Durham University's spiciest a cappella group. They specialise in singing the funkiest home-grown arrangements, performing at various events, including charity gigs, busking on the street, and big insurance company gigs where they’re sold to slavery in the process. They try to dance too, and although they have many a dad dancer, they pull off their grooves due to a rigorous 70-hour week dancing schedule. They’re very excited to perform at the ICCA this year, and have been working incredibly hard to have a slick performance ready for Edinburgh. 

The Songsmiths is Leeds University's best (and admittedly only) a cappella group. After reaching the lofty heights of 3rd place at last year's U.K. Semifinal, they are back and ready to go all the way to 2nd this year! 

Aberpella is the first a cappella ensemble on their university campus and has been going from strength to strength since 2011. This award-winning mixed-gender group has a dark and full sound and a penchant for humour and heart. Having lost the majority of their group this year, Aberpella is excited to show off their new members. 

Founded in 2013, The Killer Quines is the only all-female a cappella group on the University of Aberdeen’s campus. Despite the group’s Scottish name, they proudly welcome girls from all over the world. The group’s diverse makeup allows them to create a place where their individuality is valued by not only celebrating their differences, but capitalizing on them to build something new. Building themselves from the ground up has pushed them to learn and grow every year, with each performance serving as an opportunity to evolve. They are involved in all aspects of their performance, from arrangements to choreography to beatboxing, and are eager to exploit the group’s various talents. By continually pushing themselves to bring something new to the table, they have improved their musical repertoire, as well as what their voices can do. The group’s varied musical backgrounds range from folk songs to gospel to beloved pop classics to girl-power anthems. The Killer Quines is a group of girls who lift another up, something they hope reflects in their performance. This belief remains for members old and new, because once a Killer Quine, always a Killer Quine. 

Cloud IX, Edinburgh University’s all-male a cappella group, has been dishing out energetic and rich performances and just enough boy band energy to keep their audiences satisfied. Founded two years ago, they have attended competitions such as Voice Festival U.K. in Birmingham in 2016, the ICCA, and the Scottish A Cappella Championships (SACC) last year. Cloud IX is a dedicated and practiced competition group, aiming to deliver impressive and masterful a cappella performances wherever they go.

Licence to Trill is the first and only female a cappella competition group from the University of Edinburgh. They are winners of the 2019 SACC and are excited to extend their reach to the rest of the U.K.! This wholesome group of girls loves tight harmonies and believe their blend is unparalleled. 

Since forming in January 2016, Tone Up has been a prominent feature on the University of Edinburgh campus and in the U.K. a cappella scene. Their combination of creative arrangements, tight harmonies, powerful ballads, and, of course, their signature purple jackets, create memorable performances that are always a highlight of any competition in which they take part. In their competitive debut at the 2016 SACC, their performance won over both the audience and the judges, receiving awards for Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Vocal Percussion. Since then, they have launched themselves onto the nationwide scene with appearances in consecutive Voice Festival U.K. University Finals in 2017 and 2018, accruing a range of awards along the way. Their ICCA debut in 2019 saw them place 4th in the U.K., and won Outstanding Soloist in SACC that same year. Tone Up enjoys performing regularly outside of competitions as well, either busking and performing in venues around the city, as well as events within the University A Cappella Society (EUAC). Tone Up can’t wait to perform for fellow a cappella lovers in their second ICCA! 

The Accidentals is one of two all-female a cappella groups from the University of St Andrews. Known for their strong sense of sisterhood, killer choreography, and all-around sass, they seek to promote female empowerment, supporting multiple women’s societies on campus. Many of their song choices embody their central message of girl power and they approach every performance with energy, a sense of humour, and a joy from singing together. The Accidentals is an international group, with members from England, the United States, Portugal, Austria, France, and Lithuania, as well as Scotland, all brought together by a love of singing and those iconic pink jackets. The Accidentals travel as much as possible, often visiting Edinburgh, Dublin, and London to perform, and are currently planning a Euro Tour for this coming spring. The Accidentals is the only group from St. Andrews to place in the U.K. Semifinals for two consecutive years and placed 3rd in the SACC in 2016 and 2019. AlthoughThe Accidentals love competing and performing, the best part of being an Accidental is being part of the group’s tight-knit and empowering sisterhood. As a group of 11 best girlfriends, it is impossible to not feel supported and loved. 

The Alleycats is one of The University of St. Andrews mixed a cappella groups. Combining a range of musical influences, this feisty and fabulous group does not shy away from any genre of music. These 11 vocalists provide award-winning contemporary a cappella, presented in a full range of male and female voices amid a velvety blend. The Alleycats was originally set up by a group of friends in 2001 who shared their love of singing over a pint in the pub, and much to their delight, discovered the enjoyment that their music could evoke. Originally an all-male group, The Alleycats opened their doors to female members in 2007 and began working their way towards the rich sound they have today. Every year, the group performs at events and corporate functions across the U.K., all whilst participating successfully in competitions.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Aliak Bedirian is a singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist based in London. She has been passionate about music from a young age and has extensive experience in various genres. She has been involved in classical, rock, big band/jazz, and musical theatre performances, and has a B.A. in music from the University of Bristol. Her a cappella career began with joining mixed group, The Bristol Suspensions, in 2014, becoming co-musical director in 2015 and co-founding the all-female group, Pitch Fight, in the same year. With The Bristol Suspensions, she won Outstanding Arrangement at an ICCA U.K. Quarterfinal and the group was crowned champions of Voice Festival U.K. in 2016. Since then, she has joined VoCollective, which recently competed in the 2018 AcaOpen, and continues to arrange and perform around London. Aliak looks forward to seeing what the ICCA has in store this year. 

Rosalind Johnson is an experienced a cappella singer, arranger and coach based in Edinburgh. Whilst her musical journey began as a pianist and trumpeter and she kept busy with various instrumental ensembles throughout her school and university careers, her expertise lies in barbershop and she has accumulated a wealth of experience in the field over the past 10 years. Rosalind is the musical director of Scotland’s premier male barbershop ensemble, The Rolling Hills Chorus, and she wrote, produced, and directed two successful Edinburgh Fringe Festival shows with them in 2017 and 2019. She is also the assistant musical director of the award-winning Forth Valley Chorus, who achieved 10th place in the world in 2019, and musical director of the National Mixed Barbershop Youth Chorus. Rosalind creates custom arrangements for various a cappella groups and coaches both individual singers and groups. She has previously judged the 2018 ICCA U.K. Quarterfinal in Edinburgh and the 2019 SACC. Rosalind also performs with and arranges for her own a cappella trio, Black Velvet. She is very excited to see what the ICCA has in store this year. 

At Imperial College London, Peter Noden was a member of The Techtonics and helped them claim the title of ICCA Champions in 2016, the first non-U.S. group to do so in the competition's history. Since then, Peter has pursued a career as a professional actor and singer and has performed with various ensembles, including the Maida Vale Singers, the BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and John Wilson Orchestra. Having graduated from the M.A. musical theatre course with distinction at the Royal Academy of Music, Peter has built up an extensive and ongoing resumé of theatrical experience. 

AJ O'Neill has a varied musical background. He started, managed, choreographed, and arranged the music and harmonies for The Gleeks, the U.K.’s number one "Glee" tribute act, which performed both tracked and a cappella pop songs. AJ also has an impressive musical theatre resumé, having played the roles of Amos and Mary Sunshine in the West End cast of "Chicago," performed in the European premiere of "A Man of No Importance" and its West End transfer, and lead roles in the Irish premieres of "Songs for a New World," "The Last 5 Years," and "Listen to My Heart." As an educator, he teaches musical theatre performance at DanceWorks and Pineapple, two of the U.K.’s premier theatre studios. AJ has also sung lead on ad campaigns for Puma and toured the Netherlands with a close harmony Irish music show featuring male vocalists, "Druid," singing high tenor. 

Megan Smania is currently pursuing a Master of Music from the University of Cambridge. Before moving across the pond, she studied at the University of Michigan, where she received her Bachelor of Music in vocal performance and music education. During her time there, she sang with Amazin' Blue, serving as president, music director, and arranger. Her arrangements and leadership led the group to be ICCA Wild Card Champions, placing 4th at Finals in New York. Since her time in AB, Megan has been a sought-out arranger and mentor for other groups around the U.S. 

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank our producers Christopher Witham and Gemma Davies, production assistant Chloe Stally-Gibson, sound engineer Max Hunter, guest performer Grace and the Flat Boys, Julie Abrahams and the Church Hill Theatre staff, and Patricia James and the Usher Hall box office staff; 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 three placing groups will advance to the 2020 ICCA United Kingdom 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