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 MID-ATLANTIC QUARTERFINAL

 

Cresskill High School
Saturday, January 25th, 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 led 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 Highlands Belles have made their home at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, N.J. The Belles are excited to be competing in another ICHSA after earning 2nd place in the Mid-Atlantic Semifinals for the past two years. The Belles have also competed in the Sing Strong Festival and the National A Cappella Convention (NACC). The Belles hope you are all feeling good after their set. Enjoy the night!

Note-oriety is an 11-member women’s a cappella group from Cresskill High School in Cresskill, N.J. Founded in 2015, Note-oriety sends a message of positivity and empowerment to all who will listen. They hope that each person they reach will pay it forward and help the group spread their message.  Follow them on Twitter @OrietyNote and on Instagram @chsnoteoriety!

Introducing Howell High School's newest a cappella team: Rebel Clef! A cappella is infectious at Howell High School and why not?! It's always a bop! This co-ed group is out to make a name for itself starting here tonight. They are so excited to be sharing the stage with so many talented groups, especially their fellow HHS aca-groups, Rebelation, Rebel Yell, and Reverb. They hope to make their school proud and give you a great show! 

Rebel Yell is not only Howell High School's oldest a cappella, but it's one of the oldest high school contemporary a cappella groups in the country! Rebel Yell demonstrates their dedication to their work and community by making frequent appearances at local events. After being an all-female group for the past two years, they are happy to announce that Rebel Yell is once again co-ed! Consisting of 17 girls and one boy, Rebel Yell enjoys long walks on the beach, deep conversations, and cheering on their sister groups, Rebelation, Reverb, and Rebel Clef! 

What happens when you fill an a cappella group with mostly marching band kids? Rebelation! This co-ed group of crazies happens to make music together, but it's really all about the fun and the AP classes! And the choreography. And the blending. And the intonation. And the music. Time for Rebelation! 

Reverb A Cappella, from Howell High School, is three years old. When they aren’t rehearsing a cappella, this energetic bunch spends most of their time onstage performing in musicals and plays. If the Thespian Society had an aca group, it would be Reverb! This group practices once per week throughout the year and loves complex tight harmonies. The only thing that will stop them is auditions for the musical! Go Reverb A Cappella! 

Cresskill High School’s SoundXplosion, from Cresskill, N.J., is the school’s 13-member mixed a cappella group. SoundXplosion transitioned to contemporary a cappella in 2014 and has participated in the ICHSA for five of the past six years. In addition, SoundXplosion was a part of the A&E Network’s television show, “Pitch Slapped.”  The group members cannot think of a more gratifying way to spend their time than spending each and every day making the world a better place while sharing the gift of music with the world!  Follow them on Twitter @sound_xplosion and on Instagram @chssoundxplosion! 

The Ridgewood High School AcaBellas, established in 2011, are competing in the ICHSA competition for the seventh straight year. In 2018, The AcaBellas placed 2nd in their Quarterfinal and won awards for Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Vocal Percussion. In 2019, The AcaBellas placed 1st in their Quarterfinal and won the award for Outstanding Vocal Percussion. 

The Ridgewood High School Maroon Men, established in 2010, are competing in the ICHSA competition for the eighth time. In 2015, the Maroon Men won their Quarterfinal and won awards for Outstanding Soloist and Vocal Percussion. In 2018, the Maroon Men placed 3rd in their Quarterfinal and in 2019, they placed 4th. In addition to singing sweet harmonies with their boys, each member of the Maroon Men can bench press 250 pounds. 

Based in Englewood, N.J., Vocal Synergy is the first and only a cappella group on the Dwight Morrow High School/Academies at Englewood campus. This highly acclaimed group includes some of the most accomplished, dedicated, and enthusiastic students from the school. Having been in the a cappella scene for three years now, they are eager to jump back into this year’s season. Not only has the group performed throughout the area on numerous occasions, from annual school events to Christmas caroling, they also performed at the 2019 National School Board Association in Philadelphia, Pa., for nearly 6,000 school officials and administrators from across the country! Though the group has shrunk in size, the undeniable talent continues to grow exponentially. The group’s diverse blend of musical influences, cultural backgrounds, and bright personalities makes this close-knit group of a cappella singers so unique and special. After a troubling and rough start to the school year, this talented cluster of K-Pop-loving, R&B-singing, harmony-creating students are back on their feet and have been preparing tirelessly, ready to entertain audiences all over!

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Neil Aaronson is a professor of physics and acoustics at Stockton College. A founding member of The TCNJ Trentones, Neil continued working with a cappella ensembles in graduate school at Michigan State University. Since 2008, he has helped the a cappella community grow from one ensemble with 10 members to three ensembles with over 45 singers, all working together to foster musical growth at their campus. He is the executive director of the ASTA/NJ Chamber Music Institute, assistant conductor of the Stockton Oratorio Society, and vice president of the Board of Directors for the Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey. 

Gyasi Barber, a New Jersey native, completed his Master of Music in vocal performance at the New England Conservatory. There, Gyasi played Figaro in "Le Nozze di Figaro," Don Pedro De Hinoyosa in Offenbach's "La Perichole," and Ben Benny in "Paul Bunyan." Prior to that, he earned his undergraduate degree in music education from Syracuse University, and played such roles as Pish Tush in "The Mikado," Frank in Strauss' "Die Fledermaus," and Sarastro in "Die Zauberflote." Gyasi has performed as a featured soloist with the Masterworks Chorale in Boston, as the bass soloist for their annual Messiah Sing, and played Collatinus in Opera Brittenica’s production of Britten's "Rape of Lucretia.” Currently based in New York City, Gyasi performs with the Oratorio Society of New York, in addition to other small groups. 

Jennifer Carnevale is the Chair of the Department of Performing Arts at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., where she directs the award-winning contemporary a cappella ensemble, Dobbs 16, as well as the more than 100-member Masters Glee Club. Her other courses taught include Music and Social Justice, Psychology of Music, and Vocal Techniques. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Arts in music education from Teachers College Columbia University. She ran a private voice studio for 15 years and has been on the faculty at The Masters School for 17 years. As Chair of the Department of Performing Arts at Masters, she oversees a program which includes 11 full time and 26 adjunct faculty in dance, music, and theatre, and produces more than 60 performances per school year. 

Brian Chambers has founded or helped found three award-winning collegiate groups, including, at the time, the youngest Finalist in ICCA history. He has earned three ICCA awards for Outstanding Vocal Percussion, and the first Outstanding Arrangement award for a hip hop song in ICCA history. He created and founded The Red States, named a best a cappella group by “Time Out New York.” He helped launch the first digital A&R agency for A-list and Billboard 100 artists. Brian is the former director of communications and marketing for the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA) and served on its board of directors. If you don't blink, you can catch him in “Pitch Perfect 2.” 

Dan Purcell is a huge a cappella fan and can't help but be grateful for the many opportunities that have come his way just by being one. His passion for singing and vocal music began in high school, where he performed in many school assemblies and choral functions with an all-male-identifying a cappella group called The Wayward Sons, all while watching tons of Straight No Chaser and Peter Hollens videos with his choir friends. He kept that passion going at Ithaca College, where he became a member of the award-winning all-male-identifying ensemble Ithacappella. With Ithacappella, Dan grew into his role of performer, arranger, and eventual leader as the group toured, competed, and recorded albums. His performing efforts earned him a Best Solo award at Boston Sings in 2014, while his arrangements have garnered placements on several BOCA compilation albums. He even combined his love of filmmaking and a cappella into a short jukebox musical film for Ithacappella called "Stages," which garnered him a special award for Best Short Film at the inaugural A Cappella Video Awards (AVAs) in 2016. While opportunities in film and video have led him to his current full-time career as an editor, his passion for music and singing hasn't diminished. Dan still writes, sings, and arranges, and plans to release his first solo music project later this year. Dan is also still an avid supporter of the incredible folks in this community and he can't help but be excited to judge a night of great singing!

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank
 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 Mid-Atlantic 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