Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 23rd 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 650 groups and 9,800 singers at 87 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 are also the subject on the TV docu-series Sing It On, which follows 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 two 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 third 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 23 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2019 season takes 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!


Amanda Newman
Executive Director



Grunin Center for the Arts
Saturday, February 16, 2019



We're talking about this event, and all of our events around the world!




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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 three 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 in New York City.

The high school tournament is now in its 14th year and continues to grow fast. We are now holding Quarterfinal rounds in all of our regions, and the 2019 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.

The Open Tournament took place for the second time ever in summer 2018 and featured six semifinals that lead to the Open Finals featuring those six Regional Champions, two Wild Card Champions, and our 2018 ICHSA and ICCA Champions. Those 10 groups competed at Carnegie Hall in New York City this past September.

 For a full tournament schedule, visit us at



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.



CHS Varsity Vocals is the premier a cappella group at Carteret High School. Varsity Vocals, under the direction of Mr. Kason Jackson, was founded in 2015 and has performed at many venues and events, including the Carteret Borough Town Hall, cancer walks, a cappella festivals, charity events, Roosevelt Care Center, Robert Wood Johnson, Bryant Park in New York City, and on the field for the Trenton Thunder, the minor team associated with the New York Yankees. CHS Varsity Vocals in an auditioned group students from grades 9-12, coming with various levels of music experience. Follow them on Instagram @chsvarsityvocals. 

Elevate A Cappella, Jefferson Township High School, is a young, passionate group who decided to take a chance on one another and form this group. They have adopted their name and mantra from the Nelson Mandela quote, “Music is a great blessing. It has the power to ELEVATE and liberate us. It sets people free to dream. It can unite us to sing with one voice. Such is the value of music.” 

First Edition is West Windsor Plainsboro High School South’s premier a cappella group. One of three groups on campus, First Edition performs at township and school events, including The Mayor’s Ball, Arbor Day, the 9/11 Memorial, the Christmas Tree lighting, and sports games. On top of their repertoire of pop, R&B, and classic a cappella genres, First Edition also focuses on Christmas music, enjoys experimenting with college a cappella arrangements, and creates their own arrangements in house. Affiliated with the choir program at school, First Edition includes members from all three music programs (choir, orchestra, and band). With 17 members (four on each voice part, plus one beatboxer), First Edition is a diverse group with a powerful sound. Living in West Windsor, these singers maintain challenging academic and extracurricular schedules in addition to weekly two-hour rehearsals. Within just the past few months, they have seen growth in the group’s self-discipline and passion for music and they are ready to compete. Everyone in First Edition as a genuine passion for learning and performing. Their favorite pastime is eating food, making a loud mess, and horrible impromptu jam sessions during random parts of the day! 

Highlands Harmonics hails from Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, N.J. Until two years ago, Harmonics had never competed on any level, but they placed 3rd at SingStrong N.Y. in both 2017 and 2018. This is Harmonics’ first year competing at ICHSA and the group couldn't be more excited.  They have worked with a cappella powerhouses such as Deke Sharon, Chesney Snow, Sara Wordsworth, and Russ Kaplan. When they're not singing, they're participating in sports, scouts, clubs, community service, and theatre. 

On That Note is a new mixed group from Pequannock Township High School. Their set focuses on all of your favorite television theme songs from the 1960s till today. From “The Flintstones,” to “Full House,” to “Friends,” they hope to give you a nice shot of nostalgia that will give you all the feels. 

The Nocktaves, a mixed group from Pequannock Township High School, gets its name from the last syllable of their difficult-to-pronounce town name, PequanNOCK. They have only been in existence since earlier this year and they are extremely excited to become part of the contemporary a cappella scene! In this year's set, they will use pop songs to tell a classic tale of "boy meets girl, but she's not having it." 

The Ram Jams is the Ramsey High School choral program's advanced vocal ensemble. They rehearse once a week and specialize in pop a cappella music. This is their second year participating in ICHSA and they are very excited to sing with everyone. Go Rams! 

Vocal Resolution is the first a cappella group established at Highland Regional High School in Blackwood, N.J. They transformed from an after-school select chamber choir into a modern a cappella group in 2013 and they started participating in ICHSA in 2016. The members of Vocal Resolution love finding new ways to make music with just their voices. The organic art form of a cappella music is more than just a hobby or form of entertainment for this group, but a form of therapy and essential to their lives. They are so grateful for this opportunity to perform and look forward to meeting others who share a similar passion for singing. Above all, Vocal Resolution is resolved to share their joy of singing throughout this musical journey. 

Remix is Montclair Kimberley Academy's a cappella group consisting of 16 singers and a vocal percussionist. Under the direction of Maria Gilmartin, the group was created in August 2017 with collaboration from students who are passionate about singing and performing. Since its debut, Remix has performed in numerous concerts over the past year. They competed in the ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals in January 2018 and won 2nd Place, plus the Outstanding Vocal Percussion award. They were excited to advance to the next round and performed at the Mid-Atlantic Semifinals in March 2018. Last May, they held an a cappella benefit concert for Cycle for Survival. It featured some of the best a cappella groups in the country and raised over $5,000 for rare cancer research. Remix looks forward this ICHSA season and other special events throughout the coming year.



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. 

Viraj Lal is in his ninth year as choral director at Newark Academy in Livingston, N.J. He holds a master’s degree in musical education from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Music from Rutgers University. His choirs have performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, toured Europe, and have worked with guest artists such as Casey Breves of Chanticleer, Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Sarah McLaughlin, and Loreena McKennit. No stranger to contemporary a cappella, Viraj directed one of Rutgers’ contemporary a cappella ensembles, Deep Treble. In 2007, he led them to 1st place in the ICCA Mid-Atlantic Semifinal, with individual awards for Outstanding Soloist, Choreography, and Vocal Percussion. Viraj is a sought-after vocal coach and guest-clinician for middle school and high school vocal ensembles around the state. He has coached The RockNRoll Chorus and is the current vocal coach for the Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir. 

Edgar K. Mariano's a cappella experience started with The Deaftones of Westminster Choir College where he was a member throughout his undergrad and graduate degrees. During his time in the group, The Deaftones was able to tour the East coast and compete at the ICCA, winning several awards. Edgar has been fortunate enough to have performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Kimmel Center, and Lincoln Center. In addition, he was a member of the Grammy0nominated ensemble, Williamson Voices, where he was able to travel to Oxford University as an artist in residence. Edgar is currently the vocal music director at Princeton Day School in Princeton, N.J. He leads three high school a cappella ensembles, Pitch, Please (all-female), Y-Chromotones (male), and the Madrigals (co-ed). Out of school, He keeps a cappella in his life by performing with the a cappella group, Spare Parts Vocal Band. 



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

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Sara Yood
Senior Producer

Helena Benthall
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Courtney Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Elise Hackl
 ICHSA Midwest & Southwest


Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West Producer

Riley McMahon
 ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
 ICHSA South Producer

Nicole Kohlweiss
 ICHSA Northeast Producer



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 finishing groups advance to the ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Semifinal!



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!





The International Championship
of A Cappella Open


Carnegie Hall
 Saturday, October 5, 2019