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

 

Nottingham Playhouse
Sunday, January 19th, 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

 

The Acappellads is Wales’ first all-male a cappella group to compete at the ICCA! Founders of the Cardiff University A Cappella society, they made their debut at last year’s U.K. Semifinal with songs by Ed Sheeran, The Killers, and Jack Garratt, the latter of which was soloed ardently by group manager Rahul Sharma. They’re back this year with new management, arrangements, sound, style, and a more menacing vibe. Only four of last year’s roster remain, with several freshers on board to seek the euphoria of the competitive a cappella stage! They are a determined and committed bunch, led by musical director Daniel Latham who balances this role with his Ph.D. studies in chemistry. Other Acappellads to watch include five-year member James Brawn for his low pitch bellows, energetic beatboxer Leonardo Au-Yeung, and their own movie trailer/song announcer Gabriel Winbolt. They perform songs from all genres with ambitious choreography by Alfie Potter, and although they push themselves, they always remember to have fun! These 13 Welsh Dragons hope you’re prepared for a harmonious rollercoaster that’ll leave you feeling orange? Or should that be a harmonious aeroplane because they look like they work for EasyJet? Enjoy the set! 

The Angels Of The North is an all-female a cappella group from Newcastle University. The group includes students from various areas of study, ranging from medicine to music to art. They are passionate about being recognized as an amazing a cappella group with strong voices and stage presence, and not just a talented group of girls. They support girl power, but want to claim their power without needing to qualify it as such. They like to arrange and sing all sorts of musical genres, from ballads to pop-rock, such as Adele and Fall Out Boy. This is their first year as a competitive group and they are excited for the season ahead. 

The Decibelles is an all-female, sassy, green, and glittery 14-member university group hailing from across the bridge in Cardiff. They have diverse music tastes, predominantly consisting of songs conceived and performed by strong female artists, from Little Mix to MILCK and Peggy Lee to Aurora. Their ultimate aim is to have fun and bring a touch of sass, sensitivity, and power to their performances as lean, green, fighting-machine queens! 

NuMen from Newcastle University is an all-male group composed of people from various academic disciplines, including maths, dentistry, linguistics, and music. The group’s current musical director formed NuMen last year and the group has grown immensely in the year and a half since. 

Steelworks is the premier co-ed a cappella group from the University of Sheffield. Since their competitive debut in 2017 on Sky One’s “Sing: Ultimate A Cappella,” the group has continued to develop their skillset and repertoire. With a fresh roster of singers, Steelworks is refining and enhancing their work with stunning arrangements and College A Cappella recently commended their “radiant and enthralling covers.” Alongside their parent group, the non-auditioned University of Sheffield A Cappella & Beatbox Society, they perform at various events across Northern England. Steelworks particularly enjoys collaborations with other a cappella groups, performing at local charity events and singing at the Christmas service at Sheffield Cathedral. However, none can compete with the Summer Showcase, a feature-length bonanza of unstoppable a cappella entertainment in the largest venue of the Students’ Union. 2020 is set to be Steelworks’ biggest year yet with their Edinburgh Fringe Festival  debut in the works. Steelworks is ready to bring their sound to the ICCA and cannot wait to celebrate a cappella with those who love it most. 

Newcastle University's Tune Army is a group of alarmingly close friends who enjoy participating in outrageous events, regularly bringing the tune to the Toon. Outside of rehearsal, you can find them bopping about in karaoke bars or belting rogue tunes in the baltic streets of Newcastle, thoroughly ruining their voices on a weekly basis. This is only their second year as a competitive group, but they already consider themselves fully involved in the competitive a cappella world. They can't wait to perform for you and hope you enjoy it as much as they do.

Guilty pleasure is defined as something that you shouldn’t like, but you do anyway. The members of Unplugged define themselves as a guilty pleasure and invite you to take that as you will. They are unashamed of their love for cheesy tunes, arguably over-energetic choreography, and a cappella in general, which is the ultimate guilty pleasure for many people! From Britney Spears to Little Mix, Elton John to Earth, Wind & Fire, there's no cheesy pop hit they wouldn't love to sing! Unplugged is a mixed audition-based group and they have been excited to expand their performance opportunities in the past year, including their debut outside of Nottingham at the Showcase of Northern A Cappella in Leeds in November 2019. Between performances, they spend far too much time in one another’s company, from pizza nights to chaotic karaoke (and sometimes both at the same time!). Fun-filled and fun-loving, Unplugged is a proud member of the University of Nottingham’s A Cappella Society run by musical director Hannah McCullough and manager Anna Baillie. This will be Unplugged's ICCA debut and they can't wait to showcase their groovy moves and funky tunes. 

Vox is a mixed group from Cardiff University. The group is made up of 16 members and considers itself  a big family! This competition will be many of the group members’ first time at the ICCA, so they’re especially excited to be representing Cardiff today. Vox is thrilled to announce that they recently appeared on the newest season of a popular Netflix show, so keep your eyes peeled and ears open and you may spot them!

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 earned the title of 2016 Voice Festival U.K. champions. Since then, she has joined VoCollective, which 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. 

Arran Bayliss-Chalmers currently sings tenor with the current British barbershop gold medalists, Sound Hypothesis, and has been singing and choreographing for as long as he can remember. Best known for his work with The Techtonics, notably during their ICCA championship year, he also draws on his years of experience singing and directing choral and chamber music. Arran maintains a keen eye for musical theatre and has choreographed and directed various short pieces and full-length shows over the past few years. Recently, he has focused on barbershop music, harmony, and tuning, which he aims to take to an international level next year. 

Alicia Gayle's love of voices-only music began when she joined The Florida State University Acabelles. She served the group as an arranger, choreographer, and vocal percussionist, picking up skills on the way to be an inspiring and supportive musical director. After moving back to the U.K., Alicia directed The Oxford Belles through an incredible run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and participation in the Voice Festival U.K. competition. She then moved on to pursue her postgraduate studies at Imperial College London, where she sang and arranged for The Imperielles. The biggest highlight of her a cappella career remains competing in the ICCA and making it to ICCA Finals in New York! She is excited to be involved again and looks forward to enjoying tonight's great performances.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank our producers Christopher Witham and Gemma Davies, production assistant Chloe Stally-Gibson, sound engineers Max Hunter and Mark Leedell, emcee Dan Mailer, guest performer The Nottingham University Moonlighters, and our venue team, including theatre manager Tracy James and all of the
Nottingham Playhouse 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 two 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