THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF HIGH SCHOOL

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 Perfect" franchise 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

ICHSA GREAT LAKES QUARTERFINAL

 

Southwest Christian High School
Saturday, February 29th, 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

 

Lakeville South’s Encore was established in 2005.  This early-bird class meets daily for rehearsals at 7:00 a.m. The 20 singers in this group also play a variety of instruments, including piano, saxophone, flute, clarinet, guitar, percussion, harp, and even didgeridoo. They sing at school and community functions throughout the year and especially love singing jazz harmonies with the LSHS Jazz Ensemble. Last year, they toured Slovenia, Austria, and Italy, and are excited to compete in Sing Strong New York this year. This is their second ICHSA.   

Harmonix is a female-identifying a cappella ensemble from Jordan High School in Jordan, Minn. This is their third year as a group and they have enjoyed competing in the ICHSA each year. Last year, they were Champions of their Quarterfinal and placed 4th at the Midwest Semifinals. Harmonix believes in the power of the female voice, choosing repertoire that uplifts and empowers women to be their best. 

Minor Details is an auditioned group in its third year of competing, though they have participated in a cappella festivals for the past nine years. They rehearse one to three times per week before the regular school day. Current group members take an active role putting together most of the choreography and enjoy performing a variety of music from all genres and eras. One of their favorite traditions is having donuts on Friday after rehearsing. They perform the national anthem for school athletic events throughout the year. 

Noteworthy originated as the Eau Claire Memorial Madrigals, a group of high school choir students from Eau Claire Memorial High School that has been spreading holiday cheer throughout the Chippewa Valley for over 50 years. The Memorial Madrigals are still in high demand during the holiday season, caroling throughout the community in traditional 19th century costumes. They recently began studying and performing contemporary a cappella music during the rest of the year and decided to represent the group as “Noteworthy” for a cappella festivals and competitions. This is the group’s second year under the direction of Aurora Krajnikconde, an alum of the Memorial Madrigals. The group is composed of 18 members, ranging from sophomores through seniors, who are accepted into the group after a rigorous audition process. If you would like Noteworthy to perform at your event, please contact their director, Aurora Krajnikconde. 

Out of the Blue is an 15-member a cappella group from Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School.  With the popularity of a cappella, this group was formed at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year in order to give more students opportunities to perform outside of the curricular choirs. They are scheduled to perform at least seven different times throughout the school year. Last year, they placed 3rd at their Quarterfinal with River Romell taking home Outstanding Vocal Percussion. They are excited to perform for you tonight! 

The Red Knotes hail from Benilde St. Margaret's school in St. Louis Park, Minn. Originally established in 2014, The Red Knotes have become musical ambassadors for BSM, performing around the region and the country. After losing many seniors last year, they have been rocked with a new wave of fresh talent and are excited to be singing a wide variety of genres and arrangements. The Red Knotes are also proud of hosting the Twin Cities A Cappella Festival every year in January, featuring headliner groups such as Collide Vocals and Six Appeal.   

Contemporary a cappella first arrived at Prescott High School six years ago. Two groups have formed since then, and St. Croix Sound, the varsity group, is now four years strong.  Ballads are their favorite, though they love a good up-tempo number as well. 

The Accidentals is a student-founded a cappella group that started in the fall of 2015. After a successful first season on campus, the group became an official part of the SWCHS music department and curriculum and went on to become ICHSA Semifinalists in 2018. Besides the obvious musical connotation, the group's name refers to how it started almost "by accident" on the whims of a few students who wanted to sing in an a cappella group and started asking around to see if anyone else wanted to join them. The Accidentals are proud of their humble beginning and are excited to continue pushing their sound to the next level each year. 

Tonal Recall from Shell Lake, Wis. is in its third year of competition in the ICHSA. After last year's 2nd place finish at Quarterfinals, Tonal Recall made its first trip to the Midwest Semifinals at the Pabst Theater. Tonal Recall also performs at several events locally, including cabarets, private events, local clinics, and festivals. Tonal Recall may come from a small town, but they have big aspirations.

Vocal Point is a 15-member, auditioned a cappella vocal band based out of Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School, in Galesville, Wis. Previously dubbed “Vocal Jazz,” they took a new name in preparation for Interkultur's "World Choir Games" that took place in summer 2012.  Vocal Point has participated in ICHSA for the past eight years, finishing in the top 20 groups in the country each year and receiving awards every year for Outstanding Soloist and Outstanding Vocal Percussion. In 2015, they were invited to take part in the first-ever a cappella festival at Carnegie Hall, hosted by Deke Sharon of “Pitch Perfect” fame. In the spring of 2017, they won the ICHSA Wild Card round and were one of nine groups in the country competing at Finals. Vocal Point placed 3rd and Ethan Giles took home Outstanding Vocal Percussion. They followed that up in 2018 by progressing all the way to Finals again, ultimately placing 4th. In 2019, they took a break from ICHSA, but stayed busy with workshops and were one of eight groups to perform at the National A Cappella Convention (NACC) in Memphis, Tenn. In addition to competitions, Vocal Point performs for weddings, dinners, festivals, and school concerts.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Barry Bakunowicz has been an active member of the a cappella community throughout his musical career, performing with groups including The UW MadHatters and UW-Eau Claire's Fifth Element. In addition to singing and arranging for his a cappella groups, he studied music in college and has been involved in a variety of musical opportunities. He was a singer/dancer in the touring troupe, Kids From Wisconsin, and a cast member in many musical and operatic productions. Currently, Barry is a member of Minneapolis-based a cappella group, Due North, winners of the 2018 Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes. 

Robert Blumstein's love of vocal music began as a young child and continued to grow throughout high school while performing with the Glenbrook North High School choral program. Since then, Robert has become a professional musician in the Chicagoland area. Robert recently completed his master’s degree in music performance at Northwestern University. He previously received his bachelor’s degree in trombone performance in 2017 from Juilliard. Robert's recent performance credits include Millar Brass, the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland, performing with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and serving as a Tanglewood Music Center fellow. 

Cory Ellis is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, where he studied music education, performance, and music industry leadership. He is a founding member and former music director of The NIU Huskie Hunks, the first all-male a cappella group on campus. Cory helped lead The Hunks to perform at the VoiceJam A Cappella Festival in Arkansas, as well as the NACC in Tennessee. In addition to his a cappella contributions to NIU, Cory was the head drum major of The Pride of the Midwest, the Huskie Marching Band, and an arranger and member of the world-renowned NIU World Steelband, which recently performed at Symphony Center in Chicago. 

Adam McNeil has been singing contemporary a cappella since he was in 5th grade, and hasn't ever stopped being involved. He matriculated at Northern Illinois University, where he majored in Business and studied music. While at NIU he was a founding member, arranger, president, and choreographer for the The Huskie Hunks, leading them to Midwest Semifinals his senior year. Since graduating, Adam spent a summer at Rowan University advising the school’s all-male a cappella group, PROFecey, as arranger and vocal coach. Adam currently works in student affairs at Utah Valley University. Adam's love for a cappella continues and he is very excited to be judging for Varsity Vocals this season. 

Kimberly Raschka Sailor is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB), and she has written more than 300 reviews of high school, collegiate, and professional groups since 2005. A former ICCA Finalist, Kimberly is the co-founder and past president of the University of Southern California's Reverse Osmosis. Kimberly has also served as a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) nominator and judge. In addition to volunteering in the a cappella community, Kimberly is an author and elected school board member for the Mount Horeb Area School District in Wisconsin, where she also sings with the Mount Horeb Chorale. This is Kimberly's 14th year adjudicating for Varsity Vocals.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Jordan Smart, Alex Sheafor and Audio Max Production, Curtis Kettler, Jason Wipf, Southwest Christian High School, Rob Blumstein, and Robert Tyree Photography; 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 ICHSA Great Lakes 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