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 SEMIFINAL

 

New Wimbledon Theatre
Saturday, March 7th, 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 and stay updated on our other events and programs by joining our mailing list!

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

 

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. 

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!

Sweet Nothings is an all-female, contemporary a cappella group from the University of Exeter. The group is composed of 12 girls from diverse backgrounds with numerous interests, all united by their love for performing. As the group turns 14 this year, they are excited to continue growing stronger. Their repertoire ranges from soft and emotional to strong and powerful to cheeky and fun. The group represents that range in their new EP, Amplify. Released just two months ago, it features a fun girl group mashup of “Woman Like Me,” an edgy medley of “Human,” “La La La,” and the slow and beautiful “Landslide.” When Sweet Nothings are not competing, they enjoy a number of more relaxed performance opportunities, such as busking in the town center,  gigs in pubs, and performing around Exeter in weddings, festivals, or society events. They performed their show, “Ocean’s 9,” in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and sold out multiple times! They hope to return to Fringe with a fresh new setlist. Identified by their fierce red lipstick and black and red clothing, they hope to keep spreading the word that girls can be as sweet as they are sexy, all while expressing themselves through great songs. 

Illuminations is Exeter University's only mixed contemporary a cappella group, and from its creation in 2011 the group has gone from strength to strength. From Beyoncé to Muse to One Direction and back again, the orange army always has something to sing about and they will not be ignored. With slick harmonies and tight choreo, Illuminations are back to light it up in 2020! 

Northern Lights is Durham University’s most established a cappella group, now into its seventh year of existence. The group has gone from strength to strength over the last number of years and just won their fourth consecutive ICCA Quarterfinal. In addition, the group placed 3rd in the 2018 United Kingdom Semifinals and are excited for the chance to be back. The Northern Lights have released two EPs, produced three music videos, and established a tradition of putting on sold-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival every August. The group is proud to arrange all of their own music and aims for musical excellence while fostering a close, supportive environment for its members. It is a busy year for the group with upcoming recordings and a potential tour in the works, as well as their return to Edinburgh Fringe.

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 Scottish A Cappella Championships (SACC), their performance won over 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. In 2019, they placed 4th in their ICCA debut 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!

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.

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 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 All,” 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. As such a new group, The Conchords are very excited to be performing in the U.K. Semifinals tonight and hope you enjoy their performance.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Midé Naike developed an avid interest in a cappella in 2012, and joined Sons of Pitches the following year as its beatboxer. Highlights over his two years with the group include performances at the Edinburgh Fringe, Paderborn (Germany) 2015, and a crazy three weeks in Hong Kong. In the U.K., they've run a number of school workshops, including his own solo beatbox masterclass. In 2015, he and the boys won BBC's The Naked Choir, which was a truly awesome experience!

Dr. Katie Bank is an Honorary Research Fellow in musicology at the University of Sheffield and teaches at the University of Oxford. She has a master's degree in choral education from the University of Southern California and has worked for close to 15 years as a music educator, conductor, animateur, church musician, and arranger in both the U.S. and U.K. Though she spends most of her time focused on 16th and 17th-century vocal music, she is a proud alumna of Bowdoin College’s Ursus Verses and The Harvard Fallen Angels. Katie is a former ICHSA Producer and is happy to continue her relationship with Varsity Vocals by adjudicating for ICCA. 

Jack Blume is a composer of music for film, television and theatre. His music has been used in everything from advertising campaigns to international feature films, and his a cappella arrangements have been performed on stages across the U.K., in New York, Hong Kong, on BBC One, BBC Two, and BBC Radio 2 (Simon Mayo Drivetime). In 2015, along with Nic Doodson of The Magnets, Jack co-created "Gobmacked!," a mainstream a cappella stage show, featuring world champion beatboxers and some of the best vocal talent in the country. After five-star runs in Edinburgh and Hong Kong, the show had a five-week run at London's Southbank, before touring to Europe, Asia, and Australia. Jack started his a cappella career as music director and beatboxer for The Sons of Pitches (the winners of BBC Two's "The Naked Choir"), and he continues to work closely with them in various capacities. 

Jo Goldsmith Eteson is currently a member of The Swingles. She started singing at school with various groups, including an a cappella group that she led herself. She was a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and has since served as a member of staff. Jo studied voice at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama before joining The Swingles in 2006. She has won several Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) for her arrangements and has given workshops and masterclasses all over the world. As a session singer, she has sung live backing vocals for alternative rock legend Elizabeth Fraser and can be heard on film soundtracks including “The Hobbit,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Arthur Christmas,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “The Hunger Games,” “Jurassic World,” and “Downsizing,” for which she co-wrote the end credit song.  

Megan Smania is currently pursuing a Master of Music at 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 Christopher Witham and Gemma Davies, Chloe Stally-Gibson, Max Hunter, Leo Diebel, guest act Terrane (James Rose), Emma Brack, and the team at The New Wimbledon; 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 placing group will advance to the 2020 ICCA Finals.

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