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 NORTHEAST QUARTERFINAL

 

Galvin Middle School
Saturday, February 8th, 2020

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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

 

Accent A Cappella is a co-ed group from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, in Massachusetts.  The group is completely student-run, which means they approach all decisions through a democratic process.  This creates a more unified and inspired group dynamic, which they use to better their music and grow closer together. They love having fun and competing at various events, including ICHSA for about seven years, Haunted Harmonies in Salem, Mass., and on WGBH's “Sing That Thing.” In terms of music, they specialize in pop songs, but are intent on making those songs their own by adding some jazz or changing the tempo. They love taking on challenges and getting out of their comfort zones. 

Dobbs 16 is a co-ed contemporary a cappella ensemble from The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. With members hailing from Dobbs Ferry to Bulgaria, Dobbs 16 has made appearances at Red Bulls games, on “The Tyra Banks Show,” and as guest vocalists for the Orchestra of Unlimited Potential in the U.K. Dobbs 16 was featured in workshops on choral improvisation at the 2016 International Society for Music Education Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, and was the closing act at the 2019 Association for Popular Music Education Conference at New York University. Most recently, Dobbs 16 recorded the anthem for a fictional nation in the Off-Broadway play, “Terra Firma.” They have also recorded five albums, titled This is How I Feel Today, Late for Practice, Lost in Shanghai, I’ll Be There, and Takin’ it to the Streets. An academic choir, Dobbs 16 meets during school hours and is directed by faculty in consultation with a Student Leadership Team. Outside the rehearsal room, members of Dobbs 16 can be found debating in Model United Nations conferences, running cross country, interviewing for the school newspaper, recording albums, and, of course, still singing together! 

The Holdernotes is in its second year of existence, and have come back to the competitive a cappella world to show all the skills they have learned thus far. They love seeing their audiences enjoy themselves. 

NOTEorious is North Reading High Schools only auditioned a cappella group. They perform in community events, competitions, and festivals throughout New England. Last year they won 2nd place in ICHSA Semifinals. This spring, they will be traveling to Walt Disney World as featured performers. They love to flash-mob and they love ice-cream. 

Formed in 2014, She Major is Wakefield High School's all-female contemporary a cappella group, directed by Ana Morel. They have collaborated with groups such as The Exchange, Ithacappella, and Musae, and have worked with Archie Gopal, Anna Morsillo, and Deke Sharon. In 2017, She Major placed 3rd in the ICHSA Northeast Semifinals and Quarterfinals. Members have won various awards for Outstanding Soloist, Outstanding Vocal Percussion, and Student Arranging. 

The 18 Wheelers hail from The Wheeler School, a nursery-12 school in Providence, R.I. They love to sing for the Providence community by participating in local events and and benefits. A long time ago, before they had an official name for the group, a college a cappella group came to visit and perform, noticed that there were 18 members in the group, and exclaimed, "You should be the 18 Wheelers!" The rest is history. The 18s simply love making music and sharing it with other schools, especially at ICHSA! 

The Crescendos is a high-energy, royal-blue-wearing a cappella group from Chelmsford High School. This is their third season competing in the ICHSA and they are excited to build on what they learned in the 2019 season. The group has won awards for their student arrangements and vocal percussion and they take great pride in their high level of student leadership. 

The Sachimes of Saugus High School is a co-ed group that formed in 2016. In three years time, The Sachimes have gone onto two ICHSA Semifinal rounds, and earned a 1st place win at Quarterfinals. These singers share a love of showcasing intricate stories and character development every time they perform. They’ve performed at a variety of gigs over the years, including Haunted Harmonies, of which they’ve won awards for placing 2nd, as well as Best Halloween Song. They have also performed at Saugus’s Founders Day and at a variety of local venues. Over the years, the group has found strength in bonding as a tight-knit family and find rehearsals to be the highlights of their week. You can find The Sachimes on Instagram and Twitter @saugus_sachimes! 

The Thursdays, Chelmsford High School's first a cappella group, is back for their fifth season competing in the ICHSA. They perform extensively throughout the school year and their favorite performances are those that allow them to interact with other high school groups. They have appeared twice on WGBH's "Sing That Thing," earning a winning title in 2018. After placing 3rd at the 2019 ICHSA Finals, they are excited to present a new set and look forward to watching and learning from all of this year's participants. Defying all expectations, The Thursdays rehearse on Tuesdays. 

Voices of Steel is the co-ed group from Wakefield High School, directed by Ana Morel. Formed in 2009, they have collaborated with groups such as The Exchange and The Nor'easters and have worked with Shams Ahmed, Deke Sharon, and Caleb Whelden. They love to make music almost as much as they love their red Converse. In 2018, they placed 2nd in the ICHSA Northeast Quarterfinal. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, they won the NE Voices competition, and in 2015, they won the Salem Pitch Trials. Members have won awards for Student Arranging and Outstanding Soloist.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Brandon Hetherington is a seasoned a cappella professional, having started his first a cappella group in high school, The Spartones. He attended UMass Amherst for voice performance and music education, where he sang in The Vocal Suspects and served as a tenor, arranger, performance director, and choreographer, winning Outstanding Choreography at ICCA. He later joined The Hexachords, advancing with the group repeatedly to ICCA Semifinals, and was featured on Pop TV’s “Sing It On.” He has taught at festivals including Boston Sings Scholastic (BOSS), and has also taught at Uxbridge High School. 

Anna-Rose Schenderman is a graduate of Northeastern University, where she was a member of the award-winning all-female a cappella group Pitch, Please!. She served as the group's president in 2017, has competed in and choreographed for multiple ICCA and BOSS competitions, appeared on the reality docu-series, "Sing It On," and performed on "The View" with John Legend. In addition, she also directed and performed in a number of university musical theatre productions, and is a co-founder of the Secret Occult Theater Collective. Anna-Rose enjoys performing in Boston theater productions and collaborating on original music with Cynabel.

Eric Scholz is a full-time producer and mixing/mastering engineer for recorded a cappella music. He has worked on various songs that have been featured on BOCA, BOHSA, SING, and Voices Only compilations, along with many that have been nominated for Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) as well. As an undergraduate, he co-directed one of NC State's competing groups, Acappology, and stays involved in the a cappella world as a clinician of vocal percussion, production, and arranging at events such as Boston Sings, SoJam, LAAF, and NE Voices. 

Joey Van Ullen is an Albany, N.Y. native who has participated in various forms of vocal and instrumental music. A SUNY Potsdam graduate, Joey earned his B.M. in music performance, concentrating in clarinet, and was a member of the award-winning Potsdam Pitches, notably during the group’s first ICCA Quarterfinal win. Following his time at SUNY Potsdam, he spent several years as the vocal percussionist and music director of the NYC-based Please Refrain. Now back in Albany, Joey is a freelance instrumentalist and vocalist and maintains a private studio.

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 Northeast 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

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THE OPEN

 

The International Championship
of A Cappella Open

ARE YOU READY?


FALL 2020