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

 

The Clapham Grand
Sunday, February 9th, 2020

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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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 Conchords is a jazz a cappella group founded by a bunch of friends who met at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The group provided relief from their intense university schedule and a relaxed environment to sing and explore music together. This is only their second year of existence and second ICCA season. The Conchords’ sound is all about explosive harmony and fun, energetic grooves, and they are unique in the a cappella world for their jazz arrangements and predominantly female-voiced blend. They are excited to debut a set that encapsulates their many interests, including the blues through the song “Moanin,” gospel with Ray Charles’ “Heaven Help Us,” and a unique ballad arranged by one of the members in the group in dedication to her grandmother called “Unforgettable.” The group has received mentoring and coaching from James Rose, from the renowned a cappella jazz group and internet sensation, Accent. 

When the Earth was young, great storms raged for centuries across its surface. Scientists believe that in a storm to end all storms, before life had even left the ocean, 14 bolts of lightning struck the area now known as London. Discovered by the Knights Templar and kept secret deep in the woods of Sherwood Forest for generations, the 14 pillars of metamorphic rock that resulted were eventually bequeathed to Imperial College London. In a piece of groundbreaking research, these pillars were fashioned into what is now known as The Techtonics. In their 2008 paper (Physical Review, volume 68, pp 22), Brightman and Carter claim that once a year (and twice a week for rehearsals), the figures come to life to sing a cappella that shakes the world like the very day they were made. The group is known for its broad repertoire, eye-wateringly crimson chinos, and terrible funky socks. They sing everything from classic rock numbers as old as their parents to hip hop tracks and touching love songs. The Techtonics have a reputation for bringing unexpected songs into the a cappella genre, a tradition they fully intend to continue. 

The Rolling Tones is King's College London's all-female a cappella group. Two-time National Champions and double Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) winners, they use their musical ability to tell eclectic stories and entertain audiences with a range of genres and vocal styles. Although a small group of 11, they bring a powerhouse of sound and energy to every stage. Previously known for their bows and braces, the group has evolved to showcase each member's personal style in their visual performance. After reaching the ICCA Finals in New York City in 2018, The Rolling Tones are back from a U.S. tour and ready to take on the ICCA 2020! 

Aca-Pocalypse is a mixed-gender group from the University of Nottingham. Fresh from their sold-out Edinburgh Fringe show, they are hoping to blow you away! They are known for their exciting, energy-filled performances, and their brand-new medley is sure to be just that! Filled with classic songs from across the 90s and ‘00s, they tell a classic story of love, romance, and betrayal. This show is sure to tug on your heartstrings and have you singing along. They cannot wait to sing for you and get you on your feet! 

From The University of Bristol, The Bristol Suspensions are back at the ICCA for their fourth year in a row! Known for their eclectic energy, outstanding choreography, and quirky arrangements, they are back to showcase the musical talents of Bristol. With eight brand-new members this year and another seven only in their second year in the group, they are here to show everyone the signature sass that The Suspensions has to offer. 

Bzz bzz - what’s that sound? Must be the renamed, revamped, and rebranded a cappella group from the University of Manchester, Alvarium. The group is back and ready to pollinate the stage with some fantastic beats (rest in peace). Fresh from the buzzing city of Manchester, Alvarium is so excited to perform again at ICCA following their debut performance last year as Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them. “Alvarium” is Latin for  “bee hive,” in reference to the worker bee, which is the widely recognised symbol of Manchester. This group believes that there is nothing better than working hard with your a cappella family to make music that’s sweeter than honey! The group of close friends formed in 2016 and loves creating performances that tell a story through choreography and lyrics. This year, Alvarium’s set features a dream which turns into a spooky a cappella nightmare from which you won’t want to wake up! 

The Oxford Alternotives is Oxford University's finest mixed a cappella group and the longest running student a cappella group in the U.K. The group was originally formed in 1993 as an alternative to Oxford's prominent chapel choir scene. They are renowned for their creativity and ingenuity, performing a wide range of music in interesting and often unexpected ways. The Oxford Alternotives have gone from strength to strength through the years, performing on BBC1's “Pitch Battle,” reaching the U.K. Semifinal of the ICCA, and 10 consecutive years at the Edinburgh Fringe. With the release of their five-song EP this year, Somnium, The Oxford Alternotives have shown the true extent of their range in musical style and genre. From Bon Iver to Bruno Mars, Queen to Jorja Smith, this group is not afraid to reimagine songs into new styles and genres, performing them with attitude and power.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Matt Chinery is an a cappella singer and recording engineer with over a decade of experience in contemporary a cappella. He sang for two years with Oxford University's Out of the Blue, and with them, finished 2nd place at the 2006 ICCA Final in New York. He also directed scratch group, Last Minute, in the 2008 BBC television series, "Last Choir Standing." He currently sings with AfterParty A Cappella, a former Shard Choir of the Year and member of the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL). As a recording engineer, Matt's credits include one CARA and several further nominations, a track on prestigious compilation album Sing 9, a Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB) Pick of 2015, and multiple tracks on U.K. Compilation, The Voice Collection. In his limited spare time, he is a lawyer. 

A baritone, mouth drummer, coach, arranger, adjudicator, and Toronto native, Kevin Fox is a recognized voice in the world of contemporary a cappella. For the last nine years, he has toured the globe with Grammy-winning supergroup, The Swingle Singers, right on the heels of another nine-year stint with Toronto’s Juno-nominated vocal band, Cadence. He serves as artistic director of the Israeli choral project, Vocalocity, and his improvisation workshops (including “Sing Without A Safety Net” and “Beatbox And Beyond”) have received rave reviews across North America and Europe. Kevin’s latest initiative, a masterclass series called Coach K Music, is due to launch in 2017. 

Jo Marshall trained at The Royal Academy of Music and was a member of the international a cappella group, The Swingle Singers, with whom she toured the world, recorded albums, and performed at prestigious venues such as La Scala, Milan, Theatre du Chatelet, Paris and The Royal Albert Hall, London. Jo has collaborated with major artists such as Coldplay, Sting, Florence and the Machine, and Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine. In demand as a session singer, she has recorded for TV and film, adding her vocals to soundtracks including “The Hunger Games,” “Harry Potter,” Be”auty and the Beast,” and “Aladdin.” Her concert work includes performances with orchestras and renowned conductors throughout Europe, performing Berio’s “Sinfonia,” Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels,” and with The John Wilson Orchestra at The BBC Proms. Jo also has her own jazz quartet, sings with the group Cubana Bop, and has performed at Ronnie Scotts, the 606 club, and Jazz festivals across the U.K. In addition to her professional singing work, Jo is also a vocal coach. She was the founding member of Blackheath Centre for Singing's jazz and pop ensemble and leads masterclasses and workshops all over the world. 

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. 

Originally from Chicago, Hannah Rosa Schiller is a writer and musician pursuing her master's degree  in musicology at the University of Oxford. She received a Bachelor of Music in music theory from Northwestern University in 2018, and is a singer, music director, arranger, and producer. At Northwestern, Hannah music-directed the award-winning Northwestern Undertones. Under her direction, The Undertones released their 2017 album, Spit It Out, and advanced to the ICCA Great Lakes Semifinals. Her arrangement of Adele’s "When We Were Young" was featured on Voices Only 2017. Hannah is also an avid contemporary classical musician. She sang in the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble (BCE) conducted by Grammy-winning director Donald Nally, and co-founded a professional chamber choir, Stare at the Sun, which aims to commission and perform new work by Chicago-based composers.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank our producers Christopher Witham and Gemma Davies, sound engineers Max Hunter and Mark Leedell, emcee Leo Diebel, guest performer Chicken Picnic, Ally Wolf, Ryan De Freitas, and the team at the Clapham Grand; 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

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THE OPEN

 

The International Championship
of A Cappella Open

ARE YOU READY?


FALL 2020