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 MIDWEST QUARTERFINAL

 

Centerville High School
Friday, February 21st, 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

 

Blue Kids On The Block is an a cappella group from Hilliard Davidson High School. The group members are music and choir students ranging from grades 10 through 12. They pride themselves on their diversity and try to reflect this in their musical repertoire. Throughout the year, they perform in the community and at all high school events, singing pop a cappella, holiday music, madrigal tunes, and everything in between. They are excited to compete in their second ICHSA! 

Bulldog Beats is Louisville Male High School's original a cappella group on campus. The group has performed with rock band Foreigner, placed Runner-Up in the National A Cappella Education Association High School Competition, and won the AEA Voices in Harmony competition. They regularly perform for school events, community outings, and local middle and elementary schools. Feel free to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @Bulldog_Beats. The group is under the direction of Alexis Paxton. 

Forte is the champion contemporary a cappella group at Centerville High School in Centerville, Ohio.  Forte was the 2016 ICHSA Champion, a four-time runner-up at ICHSA Finals, and the 2012 winner of  Voices in Harmony in Lexington, Ky. Forte has recorded ten albums and released their most recent album, Elysian, in February. Three of their albums (Life's So Lyrical, Uncharted Heart, and Recovery) have consisted of all-original music and they were the first high school group to release an all-original album. Life’s So Lyrical was nominated for five Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) and won for Best Overall High School Alum. Their album Save My Soul won for Best Pop/Rock Album in 2017. Forte’s recordings were featured on the BOHSA compilations every year since 2012, as well as on the prestigious Sing 9 compilation. Forte’s music can be purchased on iTunes and streamed on Spotify. Forte has performed with artists such as Andy Grammer, Pentatonix, Kirstie Maldonado, India Carney, Mario Jose, Ben Bram, Matt Bloyd, Sonos, Delilah, Overboard, and Deke Sharon (musical director of NBC’s “The Sing-Off” and the box office hit movie “Pitch Perfect”). 

Free Verse is a small a cappella group of students from Central Catholic High School and Oakland Catholic High School. Since its start in 2016, Free Verse has faced many challenges, but got through all of them together. They now have a moderator at each school willing to help them out and they have already been presented with some amazing performance opportunities! More than just a student-run organization, Free Verse is like a family for all of its members and provides a safe space for free expression. It sounds cheesy, but it's true! Every single person shows up to rehearsal with a smile on their face, ready to work, excited to sing, and willing to give their all. Free Verse's name comes from the idea that music is a gateway for freedom, passion, and expression. They love to try all styles of music and performance, including  contemporary pop, oldies, country, musical theatre, jazz, and so much more. They even experiment with spoken word performances and are eager to bring a new voice to the ICHSA. They hope to bring something special to this year’s ICHSA and to showcase the beauty of music and expression. 

Phoenix is one of two a cappella groups u from Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School. In 2015, Phoenix reinvented itself and changed its name to symbolize rebirth and strength. The group has competed in ICHSA for the past four years. Phoenix is on fire! 

Shades of Blue from Brookville, Ohio, is excited for their very first competition! A show choir turned a cappella group, this ensemble is eager to meet new friends and gain new experiences in the a cappella community. If you see them around, be sure to say hello! In their short time of being an a cappella group, they have had a blast attending Kettering Acafest, performing for the community, and getting to play with their brand-new sound system! You can find more info on Brookville choirs at brookvillechoirs.webs.com. 

Shades of Blue, from Hilliard Bradley High School is currently in its third year as a contemporary a cappella group and their third year competing in ICHSA. In their first two years competing, Shades of Blue received several awards for their performances. In 2018, the group placed 2nd at Great Lakes Quarterfinals, 3rd at Semifinals, and received an award for Outstanding Soloist. In 2019, they placed 1st at Great Lakes Quarterfinals, 2nd at Semifinals, and received awards for Outstanding Soloist and Outstanding Choreography. The group is composed of 15 members, ranging from sophomores through seniors. Shades of Blue actively performs around the greater Columbus area, including performances at the Schottenstein Center for OSU Men’s Basketball. Shades of Blue is very excited to share the  ICHSA stage tonight with all of the incredible groups!   

The Panther Tones is the select auditioned contemporary a cappella group of high school students from Maysville High School in Zanesville, Ohio, under the direction of Mr. Ryan Hutcherson. The Panther Tones perform at various community events, all concert choir events, and have received Superior ratings for both OMEA Large Group Contest and OMEA Solo & Ensemble. This is the group's third year of existence and they strive to continue sharing their passion of a cappella music as much as they can. 

Trebels is a student-run a cappella group from Seton LaSalle Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. Trebels have been competing in Varsity Vocals' ICHSA competitions since 2015. Since then, Trebels has earned one 1st place win at Quarterfinals, two advancements to Semifinals, and three awards for Outstanding Student Arrangement. Trebels is entirely student-run, meaning all music selections, arrangements, group decisions, fundraisers and choreography are made by recent alumni or current students in the group. This is The Trebels’ first year without any of the group's founding members and they are excited to move onto this new stage. The group name is often misspelled as “trebles,” but is actually derived from their school mascot, the Rebels. All of the group members participate in other activities such as band, choir, drama, varsity sports, student council, and many more. Trebels love listening to and performing their favorite songs from genres including alternative pop, alt-rock, hip-hop, and jazz. Trebels perform at school admissions events, local corporate events, and enjoy Christmas caroling during the month of December. They are also active on instagram,  so follow them to see more of what they do @slstrebels!

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Noah Casino has been studying music since childhood and holds a B.I.S. in music and theatre from Kent State University. At Kent, he was the music director for The Kent Clarks, Kent's premier co-ed a cappella group, and he founded, music-directed, and arranged for Kent State's premier all-male a cappella group, Momentum. He has also taken music coursework at the University of Akron, where he sang in Akron's all-male a cappella group, Nuance. Noah is also a prolific arranger, with over 75 arrangements spanning numerous genres, including pop, choral, barbershop, punk, jazz, and hip hop. 

Bryan Guffey has been singing longer than they can remember (seriously, ask their parents). Since forming their first group, 50/50, in high school in 1997, Bryan has been a passionate believer in the power of vocal music to change lives for the better. Since graduating with their B.F.A. in musical theatre from Kent State in 2006, Bryan has worked with Grammy-nominated composer Frank Wildhorn on a remount of the Broadway musical, "The Civil War" in Gettysburg, Pa. This led them to audition for Full Sail, an a cappella group on the six-star cruise line, Crystal Cruises, where they had the opportunity to work with and learn from the likes of Home Free’s Tim Foust. After returning to the U.S., Bryan helped launch A Cappella Records and became more involved in the a cappella community. When Bryan isn't solving technical issues for nonprofits, they spend much of their time coaching a cappella groups in the Great Lakes region, volunteering with organizations such as the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA), the Vocal Foundation, the Women’s A Cappella Association (WACA), and SingStrong, and serving as president of the Delta Lambda Phi Alumni Association.

Eric Neuenschwander is a choral director at Eastmoor Academy, a high school with Columbus City Schools. A proud 2011 graduate of The Ohio State University, Eric co-founded and music directed the group Majors & Minors and created an organization to help other a cappella groups form. Since graduating, Eric stays connected with Ohio State a cappella by helping the various groups prepare for competition season. In college, Eric performed with The Ohio State Men's Glee Club, The Statesmen, and The Ohio State Chorale. He developed a passion for musical theatre through his work with a student-led group, Off The Lake Productions, which went on to shape him as a performer. Eric continues to perform onstage and in the pit for various community theatre productions, and performs in improvised musicals with TDB: The Musical in Columbus and The Black Box Improv Theatre in Dayton.

With a Master of Music in Choral Conducting (Kent State University) and a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory and Performance (Ashland University), Brandy Kay Riha is an a cappella educator and arranger with a special focus on treble repertoire. Her arrangements have been performed by middle school, high school, and collegiate singers around the globe. Brandy Kay teaches voice, theory, and a cappella at Tiffin University. She has founded and directed numerous a cappella groups, in both scholastic and semi-professional contexts, and she has led workshops on arranging, aca-directing, music theory, and vocal percussion. Brandy Kay is the founder, director, producer, and arranger for Zero to Sixty, a yearly-auditioned summer a cappella group centered between Cleveland and Akron.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Cameron Clemens, Kate Morton, Chris Andres, Ben Spalding, Bryan Miller, Centerville High School, and Novae; 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 Midwest 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