Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 26th season! Our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever after more than 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, this year featuring more than 578 groups and 8,772 singers at 77 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.

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 skills and relationships.

We provide insightful 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.

Two years ago, our 2020 tournament was sidelined mid-season by the pandemic, and we were unable to crown champions for the first time. In 2021, as a cappella groups were unable to gather to rehearse or perform, we adapted our program by challenging groups to create 4-minute music videos, recorded and edited remotely. The astonishing artistry and skill in these videos is a testament to the adaptability, ingenuity, and determination of our competitors, and we couldn’t be prouder.

This season, we are again challenged by the pandemic, as we attempt to present live events across thousands of miles in an ever-changing COVID landscape. Although some of our events have been postponed or converted to virtual, we are determined to see the season through. Many groups haven’t been able to compete live since 2019 – some students for their entire high school or college career. We are humbled more than ever by the importance of our role in setting the stage for the creation of so much magic.

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 26 years ago, and we can’t wait to see how our 2022 competitors push the envelope. Committed to promoting our singers and energized by the incredible music they create, we look forward to another memorable season. Thank you for joining us!


Amanda Newman
Executive Director



Nottingham Playhouse
Sunday, January 30th, 2022



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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 23rd.

The high school tournament is now in its 17th year. 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 22nd.

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 ten 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.



Once described by the music director behind Universal’s “Pitch Perfect” as “the real-life Barden Bellas,” The Uptone Girls is an all-female-identifying a cappella group from the University of Birmingham. Praised for their innovative takes on old classics and sassy twists on new hits, the group is excited to bring their empowering, upbeat arrangements to their first year in the ICCA. They are known throughout Birmingham for their energetic performances, ranging from Beyoncé to Peggy Lee, and they love any opportunity to share their music, whether working with Universal Studios for “Pitch Perfect 3” advertisements or in their home pub in Selly Oak where they first began. Having recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary by bringing back members spanning across the years for a remix of their original “No Diggity” mashup, the girls look forward to working with some more collaborators to muster up that rich but eclectic sound that they’re always looking to achieve. The group have previously performed on the BBC’s “Pitch Battle,” The Open, and at the digital National University Choir Competition, coming away with the Outstanding Soloist award. 

The Leamingtones is a mixed a cappella group from the University of Warwick. They are the flagship group of Warwick A Cappella Society (WACA), the number one performance society on campus (alphabetically). WACA was formed five years ago and has expanded since then from just The Leamingtones to five groups running this academic year. A society highlight was winning Warwick Student Union's Society Event of the Year award in 2020 after hosting The Open A Cappella Competition on campus. The Leamingtones is newly revived after the pandemic with 11 fresh faces in their lineup and they're excited to be the first generation to compete in the ICCA, attempting more ambitious arrangements and choreography than any 'Tones before them. They aim to celebrate diversity and don't shy away from songs of any genre or language. When not frantically deciding who should stand where in an ICCA choreography clump, they can be found in the Dirty Duck trying a bit too hard singing karaoke or huddling for warmth in a freezing camping barn as a team-building exercise. 

Algorhythm was established in 2019 by music director Beth Donnelly, but this year is their first ICCA competition due to the pandemic. The group wears rainbows to signify their inclusive outlook on a cappella and performance. Since 2019, they’ve gone from strength to strength, singing exciting repertoire such as “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap, “Misery Business” by Paramore, and “Shut Up And Dance” by WALK THE MOON. They made their performance debut in November 2021 at the Showcase of Northern A Cappella and they are super excited to perform at this year's ICCA.

The Songsmiths is a mixed university a cappella group from the University of Leeds. After selling out their show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2021 and getting to the ICCA U.K. Semifinals last season, they hope to continue their success at this year’s competition. The Songsmiths are so excited to perform and have been working hard behind the scenes to deliver the best performance possible! 

From the buzzing University of Manchester, this is Alvarium. Their name comes from the Latin word for bee hive and just like the worker bees that symbolise the great city of Manchester, they’ve been working harder than ever to bring a fantastic performance. This diverse group enjoys singing a variety of genres, including soulful ballads and high-energy pop songs. Originally formed back in 2016, they are also a close group of friends and love using their choreography and lyrics to tell stories in performance. 

Aca-Pocalypse is from the University of Nottingham! They are a close-knit mixed-voice energetic group ready to take their a cappella singing to a whole new level. This is their fifth ICCA appearance, and you may have also bopped along to their virtual performances at the National Universities Choir Competition and in the Imagine Dragons Cover Contest (this group doesn’t shy away from something a bit different!). They are most at home in front of a live audience (isn’t it good to be back?!), even theming their Nottingham-based summer show, “Only Fools and Harmonies,” on - you guessed - sitcoms! This group aims to captivate audiences by combining creative arrangements with plenty of emotion and good vibes. Their repertoire comes from too many genres to list in a 200-word bio, so they'll just say this group doesn’t fit any moulds. They hope to return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a new show to show off all of this and more. Usually they would say “sit back and enjoy!” but please don’t: dance along in your seat, stand up if you like, because this group is ready to entertain! 

RadioOctave is a mixed a cappella group from the University of Nottingham and they’re so excited to be back at the ICCA in 2022! They hope their ICCA set takes you on a journey through a deep and powerful range of emotions, ultimately leading to the realisation that all you need is to love yourself. In “Terrible beauty,”  Gjello reflects how emotions are simple from the outside but deep and powerful within. This piece leads to “Where are you?,” which expresses the feeling of losing a loved one and yourself along with them. Here, they explore the denial and confusion of heartbreak and unrequited love. “When I’m furthest from myself,” lives in the in-between stages of wanting to move on but struggling to release the past. The set ultimately powers through to craft a narrative of hope and the euphoria of releasing an emotional weight: “I can feel it, do you feel it too, still feel alive?”  “A new dawn, a new day, a new life.” Whether that struggle is losing a lover or oneself, they are now “feeling good.” RadioOctave would like to say thank you to the Nottingham University A Cappella Committee for their continued support! 

Unplugged is a mixed auditioned group of about 15 members. They specialise in those cheesy tunes you can’t get out of your head. This year, the group has been handed over to two new directors, Jacob Holmes and Freya Peake. When they aren’t bickering, they’re working hard to plan a fantastic year for the group. Unplugged is so excited to be back at the ICCA this year and can’t wait to put on a great show and see some awesome a cappella from the other groups. 



Aliak Bedirian is a singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist based in London. She has been passionate about music from a young age and has extensive experience in various genres. She has been involved in classical, rock, big band/jazz, and musical theatre performances, and has a B.A. in music from the University of Bristol. Her a cappella career began with joining mixed group, The Bristol Suspensions, in 2014, becoming co-musical director in 2015 and co-founding the all-female group, Pitch Fight, in the same year. With The Bristol Suspensions, she won Outstanding Arrangement at an ICCA U.K. Quarterfinal and the group was crowned champions of Voice Festival U.K. in 2016. Since then, she has joined VoCollective, which competed in the 2018 Open, and continues to arrange and perform around London. Aliak looks forward to seeing what the ICCA has in store this year. 

Georgia Blessitt is a current member of the 11-piece group Axiom, based up and down the U.K. She competed in ICCA Finals twice with Aquapella and in The Open with NoVI. She is the recipient of an Outstanding Soloist award at ICCA, as well as the coveted Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) for Best Mixed Collegiate Solo. She has also collaborated with U.K. groups Versa and All the King's Men and recently judged the U.K.'s first Open A Cappella Competition (OAC). She is also an active performer outside the a cappella world; this June, you can catch her as Dolores in “Sister Act” at the London Oratory School. 

Alicia Gayle's love of voices-only music began when she joined The Florida State University Acabelles. She served the group as an arranger, choreographer, and vocal percussionist, picking up skills on the way to be an inspiring and supportive musical director. After moving back to the U.K., Alicia directed The Oxford Belles through an incredible run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and participation in the Voice Festival U.K. competition. She then moved on to pursue her postgraduate studies at Imperial College London, where she sang and arranged for The Imperielles. The biggest highlight of her a cappella career remains competing in the ICCA and making it to ICCA Finals in New York! She is excited to be getting involved once again and looks forward to enjoying the great performances tonight.

Since primary school, Iain Hallam has been singing in choirs, quartets, and almost anywhere else at the drop of a hat (probably a fedora). He's been a Bath Abbey choral scholar, British barbershop gold medal winner with the Great Western Chorus of Bristol, and national finalist in the QuarteTones quartet, but much of his time now is spent waving his arms around as an a cappella chorus director. He studied violin at school and still plays occasionally in local groups, but since graduating from astrophysics at Bristol University, his passion has been singing with and directing a cappella groups. Having been part of The Bath University Alley Barbers, Iain helped start a new barbershop quartet at Bristol University. When the other members graduated, he founded the University of Bristol A Cappella Society and directed them for all but two years until its tenth anniversary. He also arranged much of the Society’s repertoire and has since contributed his arrangements across the world in quartets, choruses, bands, and orchestras. Since 2013, Iain has been director of Bristol A Cappella, the first mixed chorus to compete at the British Association of Barbershop Singers and the silver medallists at the 2018 Irish Association of Barbershop Singers international contest. In addition to his main job in IT, Iain also works with a local speech therapist to coach individuals and groups on singing and performance. 

Grettel Killing is a Manchester-based vocalist, arranger, backing vocalist, music educator, and music industry professional. Originally from Tallinn, Estonia, Grettel attended A Cappella Academy in L.A. in 2014 and 2015, where she had the chance to work with members of Pentatonix, Take 6, Accent, MPact, and many more. She has founded and directed various vocal groups since high school, leading her group Northern Voices to the ICCA U.K. Semifinals in 2019 during their first year competing. Throughout that time, her arrangements have won numerous accolades, both nationally and internationally. Currently, Grettel is a member of six-piece London-based a cappella group NoVI, as well as the vocal arranger and backing vocalist for Garage Classical, which has sold out venues in London, such as Royal Albert Hall, the Barbican, Hammersmith Apollo, and most recently, the Roundhouse. She has also performed as a backing vocalist with Emeli Sandé, Paloma Paith, Sugababes, Zak Abel, Craig David, and many more. When Grettel is not performing, she is working as an artist manager for various artists and making appearances as a visiting professional at multiple universities. 



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

Elise Hackl-Blumstein
ICHSA Co-Director
PA/MA Program Coordinator

Andrea Poole
 ICHSA Co-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

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

Emily Benjamin
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Danielle Sutherland
 ICHSA Midwest Producer

Jake McVey
 ICHSA Northeast Producer

Donald Paradis
 ICHSA South Producer

Cameron Clemons
 ICHSA West Producer

Courtney Jenson
 Associate Producer/Emcee

Ben Garza
 ICHSA Southwest Producer

Katherine Mosher
 ICHSA South Day-Of Producer

Bri Decerio
 ICHSA West Day-Of Producer

Jake Yoakum
 ICHSA West Day-Of 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 2022 ICCA United Kingdom 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!