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!


Amanda Newman
Executive Director



Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Friday, January 24th, 2020



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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 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



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.



Dachords is one of three student-led, self-arranged a cappella groups from Hanover, N.H. They are proud to be their school’s only SATB a cappella group. They perform an eclectic mix of songs, from old school rock to traditional to contemporary pop, and are three-time ICHSA Quarterfinalists and one-time Semifinalists. They love freedom, food, and free food. 

Dramatic Paws hails from Johnson City High School in Johnson City, N.Y. They are a student-led a cappella group with full creative control and love music with lots of DRAMA (hence their name)! They got the second half of their name from their school mascot, The Wildcats (get it? Paws...Wildcats...Dramatic teenagers...teenagers in choirs!). The Dramatic Paws have performed at various events and on local television programs. They've competed in two seasons of ICHSA in Troy, N.Y. where they've received 2nd place, as well as many achievement awards for Outstanding Soloist, Outstanding Vocal Percussion, and Outstanding Choreography. 

Fermata Nowheris a co-ed a cappella ensemble from Stafford Middle School and features students ranging from 6th through 8th grade. In the fall of 2018, Fermata Nowhere released their first album, Shine, which can be found on iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora. Fermata Nowhere has participated in workshops with the award-winning SUNY Potsdam Pointercounts, The University of Rochester’s Midnight Ramblers, and Deke Sharon of “Pitch Perfect.” In 2019, Fermata Nowhere competed in the ICHSA in Danvers, Mass. for the very first time, placing 4th and winning Outstanding Soloist for Madison Hunt. . Recently, Fermata Nowhere released their second music video of a Sunflower/Happier mash-up with BluVudu Productions and North Volume Media and they plan to release their second full-length album this fall. 

For Good Measure is the a cappella group from Mohonasen High School in Schenectady, N.Y.  Since 2012, they have been performing at local school and community events. The 13 members of this group are all highly involved in their high school music department, including various instrumental ensembles, several choirs, and their school theatre program. This is their fifth year competing in ICHSA and they are excited to be back! 

This is Bristol Eastern High School's Strawberry Fields' 13th year participating in ICHSA and they are honored to have been part of the explosive growth of a cappella in this country. There is no musical form that equals it in energy, popularity, and musicality!  Strawberry Fields began five decades ago as a swing choir and evolved through several metamorphoses over that time. The 16 auditioned students meet weekly for hour-and-a-half rehearsals and are asked to sing at numerous local events. They pride themselves on being an inclusive group that reflects the cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity of Bristol Eastern. 

From a small town in Western New York, The Pitchforks is a 17-member co-ed a cappella ensemble from Geneseo Central School. Performing a variety of genres with a focus on pop and jazz, The Pitchforks love bringing music to their cow-town community. The group regularly performs for the Rochester Red Wings, Christmas in the Village, and carols around Morgan Estates Assisted Living. From breakfast at Thursday morning 7:00am rehearsals to evening concerts, this tight-knit and hard-working group loves singing together and looks forward to performing for many audiences to come! 

Formed in 2018, The Valley Central Middle School Viking Voices is an auditioned group of 7th and 8th graders from the Valley Central School District in Montgomery, N.Y. (Orange County). The group meets once a week for 40 minutes (along with extra rehearsals when necessary) to prepare a repertoire of contemporary a cappella music from different genres. The 2019-20 roster of Viking Voices consists of six returning members and 12 new members, all ready to get out and give their all. 

South Glens Falls High School’s Vocal Point hails from Upstate New York and is returning to the ICHSA for its seventh season. A cappella accomplishments include a 2017 L.A. performance tour and multiple professional recording studio projects. Be sure to follow VP on social media or email them at for information on their seventh annual a cappella festival, TuneUp.



Mercedes Arrillaga attended the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., where she was part of The Girls Next Door, the school's premier all-female a cappella group. Over the years, she served as the group’s treasurer and president, leading them to ICCA. Mercedes went on to spend a summer performing with the professional all-female group on Cape Cod, Cape Harmony. She currently works as a program manager for a nonprofit agency, working within the community on ways to tackle health disparities and improve population health in underserved communities. 

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. 

Amy Malkoff is the Media Director of the Women's A Cappella Association (WACA), Marketing Director for the A Cappella Education Association, and one of the producers of Haunted Harmonies in Salem, Mass. Amy served on the board and as web content director for the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA) and is a longtime ICHSA/ICCA judge, as well as a certified judge for other events. She is a frequent workshop teacher, master clinician, writer, designer, runner of social media campaigns (, and a singer/songwriter and studio musician ( She was a founding member of award-winning groups All About Buford and Deadline Poet, and has appeared onstage and in the studio with such luminaries as Wayne Brady, Jonathan Brooke, The Persuasions, Ellis Paul, Vance Gilbert, GrooveLily, Patty Griffin, and Dar Williams. She has a degree in music from Kenyon College, with music studies at Youngstown State University and master’s-level coursework at the New England Conservatory of Music. Amy's music has appeared on both the Rounder Records and Hear Music/Starbucks labels. @amalkoff 

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.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Kimberly Joy-Gardner, Kim Stroshal, Michele Cassaro, and John Cook; 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

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



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.



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


FALL 2020