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

 

Northern Highlands Regional High School
Saturday, January 18th, 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

 

Bergen Sound is the first and longest-lasting a cappella group at the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, N.J. It began as an all-male group, but recently became co-ed. The group sings various genres, but specializes in pop and rock. They perform at all sorts of events throughout the school year, including BCA's Relay for Life event which raises money for cancer research. 

Highlands Harmonics makes its home at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, N.J. Relatively new to the competition circuit, they have competed and placed twice at SingStrong N.Y.  In 2019, Highlands Harmonics competed at ICHSA and advanced to the Semifinals. When they're not competing, they perform at various school and community events and co-host the Highlands A Cappella Festival. They have had the honor of working with some of the best a cappella professionals in the world, including Deke Sharon and Ben Bram. Highlands Harmonics is fueled by a love of singing, dedication to excellence, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. 

Highlands Voices is from Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, N.J. The Voices have made the ICHSA Finals as Mid-Atlantic Champions for seven out of the past nine years. You can see them in the upcoming movie, “Marry Me,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson. They were featured on the Lifetime TV show, “Pitch Slapped.” They have performed workshops for NAfME, NJMEA, AEA, ACDA, Bergen Teen Arts, and host the annual Highlands A Cappella Festival which features some of the biggest a cappella coaches in the world as instructors. This summer, they will travel to Milan, Italy for the International A Cappella Invitational. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube @highlandsvoices. 

Soulfege A Cappella is Millburn High School’s student-led a cappella group, now celebrating their 10th anniversary. The group performs throughout the township and greater community and holds various fundraisers and events over the course of the academic year. Soulfege has competed and placed at the ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinal, SingStrong N.Y., and A Cappella for Autism, taking home awards for Outstanding Arrangement, Choreography, Vocal Percussion and Best Male and Female Soloist. Along with music, Soulfege also takes pride in its activism. Soulfege believes that everyone should have access to music and has raised over $4000 to donate to Tunes to Teens and Music Unites, two charities that donate music supplies to underprivileged schools. To further support music appreciation, the group teaches a cappella classes to students at local elementary schools. In 2016, Soulfege was featured on three episodes of the Lifetime television show, “Pitch Slapped.” They also have three studio-recorded singles available for download on iTunes and Spotify, including “Take Me to Church,” which was selected for the 2019 BOHSA, and “Fall in Line,” Soulfege’s newest single. Soulfege is so thankful for its success and is eager to see what the future holds! 

The Foxy Jukebox comes from Moorestown Friends School in Moorestown, N.J.  Created in the fall of 2018, they finished in 4th place in the 2019 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Semifinal in their first-ever live competition. The Foxy Jukebox is composed of students in all four high school grades, including two new freshmen!  They have also been featured on B101.1 FM's “Christmas Choir Competition” as a Top 9 Vocal Group in the Philadelphia area. The students of the group would like to thank their families and friends who support them at each and every performance! 

The Ram Jams is Ramsey High School's advanced auditioned a cappella group! They have loved competing in past ICHSA seasons and can't wait to sing some cool crunchy chords for everyone again. #GoRams 

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Madelyn Curtin earned her Bachelor of Music Education with a concentration in voice from The College of New Jersey. While at TCNJ, she was able to compete in the ICCA every year with the co-ed group, The Trentones. She was fortunate enough to be the group’s music director for three years, leading the group to ICCA Semifinals in 2018 and winning an award for Outstanding Arrangement. She is currently the choir director at Steinert High School, where she started the district's first a cappella group, The Spartones. She also loves theatre and enjoys music-directing and teaching advanced acting classes every summer. A cappella has become one of her true passions and she remains active running masterclasses and arranging for groups. She is excited to be part of Varsity Vocals once again! 

An instrumentalist for most of his early life, Christopher Hoffman found his calling in vocal music as a member (and eventual president) of Hofstra University's Sigma'cappella. He helped bring the group to ICCA Semifinals twice in its first three years of competition, and earned individual awards on the way for Outstanding Arrangement. During this time, he began arranging for and collaborating with various professional, collegiate, and high school groups, and has continued in this work since graduation. Christopher helped SingStrong coordinate collegiate talent for its inaugural New York festival, and has worked with The Vocal Company’s marketing team. He currently lives on Long Island where he spends his free time working with high school a cappella groups. 

Carolyn Kiel has been singing and arranging a cappella music for 15 years. She got her a cappella start with The Vassar College Night Owls, and performed for nine years with The MetropoliTones in New York. Carolyn has recorded five a cappella albums and performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, and Giants Stadium. She has sung for such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, Zach Galifinakis, and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. By day, Carolyn works in corporate training and talent management, where she uses her newly-earned master's degree in industrial/organizational psychology. Her other skills include songwriting, vocal percussion, and driving in Manhattan. 

Austin Kiley is a teacher of vocal music, music theory and history, drama, and musical theatre at Vestal High School in Vestal, N.Y., where he also founded and directs three a cappella groups: Bear Necessities, The Vestellas, and The Bearitones. Bear Necessities has been featured on BOHSA and competed in several ICHSA seasons, receiving various individual awards and placing multiple times at Semifinals. Austin holds a B.M. and M.M. in vocal music education from Ithaca College, where he sang with Ithacappella for four years. During his tenure with the group, he competed at ICCA Finals twice and served as president of the group. This will be Austin's fourth year as an instructor at A Cappella Academy in Los Angeles, where he has worked with many of the leaders of the contemporary a cappella scene. He runs an a cappella program in Central New York called The Vocal Connection that pairs high school and collegiate a cappella groups together for a year-long mentorship. He also sings with the Southern Tier Singers' Collective and is active with numerous theatre companies in the Binghamton, N.Y. area. He is elated to judge for Varsity Vocals and grateful for the opportunity to see and hear such wonderful groups perform. 

Meredith Strang O'Sullivan has been active in the a cappella community as a singer, arranger, judge, director, and group mentor for nearly 25 years. She is currently the music director for Treble NYC, which recently appeared in the movie, “How to Be Single.” As an arranger for NYC A Cappella, she creates award-winning arrangements for vocal groups across the nation. During her college years, she directed The University of Delaware Deltones, who went on to be cast on NBC's “The Sing-Off.” Meredith is a member of the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL), the Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA), and was also a producer for CASA’s VoCALnation Festival, featuring headliners The Swingle Singers and Duwende. In addition to her love of a cappella, Meredith sings in a rock band, a jazz duo, and does backing vocals for artists such as Phillip Phillips, A Great Big World, and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.

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