DEAR FRIENDS,

Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 27th 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 610 groups and over 9,100 singers at 85 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 cinematic 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.  

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 27 years ago, and we can’t wait to see how our 2023 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!

Sincerely,

Amanda Newman
Executive Director

ICCA CENTRAL QUARTERFINAL

 

University of Waterloo
Sunday
, January 22nd, 2023

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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 29th.

The high school tournament is now in its 18th 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 28th.

 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 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.

TONIGHT'S COMPETITORS

Equivox, meaning “Balanced Voices,” is Western University’s first all-gender competitive a cappella group located in London, Ontario, Canada. The group was originally formed in 2017 by passionate members of The A Cappella Project (TAP), a non-competitive, non-auditioned group and Western’s only a cappella group at the time. Today, Western has three a cappella groups and Equivox continues to spread its voice throughout the campus community and beyond. This year, the group consists of 18 incredibly gifted vocalists who are excited to showcase their talents in performance. Equivox strives to perform on the world stage and after two years of virtually competing in ICCA, they are excited to get back in person and perform for a live audience. Enjoy! 

In Full Colour (IFC) is an award-winning mixed-voice group from the University of Waterloo. Founded in fall 2017 with the aim of pushing the boundaries of a cappella, In Full Colour has since won multiple accolades, including three ICCA Quarterfinal wins and an ICCA Semifinal runner-up title in 2018. With a focus on combining music and choreography into masterful storytelling, IFC seeks to create unique emotional experiences for their audiences. As a natural extension of this goal, IFC began creating original pieces during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, IFC premiered its first all-original set, "Alone," to critical acclaim at Boston Sings (BOSS) and became the first international submission to win at the festival. Their performances of "Alone Together" and "I Wanted" can be found on YouTube and all major streaming platforms. When they aren’t competing in ICCA, IFC members are encouraged to pursue their own creative projects and collaborate in smaller groups. They craft mashups of familiar songs, experimental music production projects, and vulnerable lyrics that tell deeply personal stories, and then showcase the final products at their coffeehouse. In Full Colour is excited to bring forward another all-original set to ICCA this year and to continue sharing their stories. 

On That Note is Toronto Metropolitan University's award-winning a cappella group for women and queer performers! Founded in 2020, On That Note boasts a unique sound, an outside-the-box artistic vision, and a repertoire of songs originally performed by women and queer artists. This vibrant group shares a love for singing and each other, as well as an intense passion to create unique sets that deliver powerful messages. Thrust into the pandemic just a few months after having been formed, On That Note adapted to the creative challenges of making music remotely while providing a safe space for women and queer performers. 

Repercussions is an all-female competitive collegiate a cappella group from the University of Western Ontario. The group is based in London, Ontario and was created in 2019 by former President Gillian Derer. In the world of a cappella, female groups are often looked down on due to their inability to hit low bass notes that contribute to a fuller sound. Repercussions’ goal is to rewrite this narrative and inspire girls and women along the way.

RESONATE is a competitive a cappella team from Toronto Metropolitan University in downtown Toronto. They placed 1st at ICCA Quarterfinals for two consecutive years: in 2021, for their pop medley “Money, Everywhere,” and in 2022, for their all-original set “A Matter of Time.” RESONATE members have also earned ICCA awards for Outstanding Arrangement, Outstanding Mix, Outstanding Videography, Outstanding Choreography, and Outstanding Vocal Percussion. Since its formation in 2013, the group has performed at various concerts and events throughout the Greater Toronto Area, including the Parados Festival and the Toronto Christmas Market. RESONATE specializes in a variety of genres, from pop to R&B, and performs original songs written by members of the group. They also produce virtual covers, which can be found on social media @resonatetoronto. 

Surround Sound is the co-ed a cappella team from the University of Toronto. Originally founded by members of the Faculty of Music, the group has expanded to include a wide variety of students across the university and is proud to host a diverse spread of majors. Drawing on a variety of styles within pop and R&B, this tight-knit group performs hidden gems and original music that leave listeners wanting more! Surround Sound has competed in the ICCA every year since its formation, including the COVID year of music videos. Last year, they competed in their fourth ICCA season, ultimately placing 2nd at the ICCA Central Semifinals. Each year, the group works hard to improve their musicianship and raise the bar for high-quality, captivating a cappella experiences. In addition to competing, they continue to grow as a team by performing for events within their university community and throughout the city of Toronto. Surround Sound is excited to see where the group goes this year and is eager to showcase their progress in this year’s ICCA. 

Founded in 2009 by seven girls who just wanted to sing, The AcaBellas has grown to include as many as 20 members in a given term. The AcaBellas was the first a cappella ensemble at Waterloo to incorporate choreography as a major part of their performances. The AcaBellas aim to enrich the experience of the Kitchener-Waterloo area through a cappella, performing genres ranging from well-known pop songs to obscure indie tracks. The AcaBellas aim to spread a message of empowerment and representation of upper-voiced singers within the a cappella community. They also promote well-rounded a cappella development among members through their arranging, beatboxing, and choreography teams. 

The Unaccompanied Minors, a mixed-voice, auditioned a cappella group from the University of Waterloo, has been belting out bangers since 2009. They love delivering powerful, passionate, and high-energy performances that span genres from top 40 hits to indie to R&B. Focusing on blend, musicality, and performance, they spread aca-love wherever they go, from the Kitchener-Waterloo area to Toronto and to the United States. In 2020, The Unaccompanied Minors placed 2nd at ICCA Central Quarterfinals and took home awards for Outstanding Soloist and Outstanding Arrangement. In 2021, they competed in the ICCA remotely and placed 2nd in Quarterfinals, along with special awards for Outstanding Vocal Percussion and Outstanding Videography. They advanced to Semifinals, ultimately placing 3rd and receiving the Outstanding Mix award! That same year, they also remotely competed in the Slaight Music Sing! Toronto Collegiate A Cappella Competition and won the Grand Prize, earning their recent performance at the 2022 SING! Toronto Vocal Arts Festival. The group is composed of many STEM students, but these dedicated singers thrive on balancing rigorous academic schedules with their artistic pursuits! Follow The Unaccompanied Minors on all social media platforms, including Spotify, YouTube, and Instagram! 

The Water Boys is a lower-voice a cappella group from the University of Waterloo with a knack for intricate arrangements, high musicianship, and entertaining performances. Founded in 2008, they have come a long way, both as an a cappella group and as friendly neighbours from The Great North. They competed at the 2018 ICCA Semifinals in 2018 and are one of the only Canadian groups to have competed at the ICCA Finals in 2017. When they’re not melting polar ice caps with their captivating presence, they generate copious amounts of voluptuous puns to empower their singing abilities. So put on your seat belts and get your trays in your upright position before diving deep into the watery trenches of supersaturated a cappella music with a dynamic splash and a sizzling drizzle! The Water Boys are about to take off!

Tunes. Beats. Awesome. (TBA) is an award-winning co-ed collegiate a cappella group at the University of Toronto. Formed in 2003, TBA has since made a name for itself with its fresh sound, tight harmonies, and innovative arrangements. This is TBA’s 20th year running and they’re ready for it to be their best. Every TBA arrangement has been arranged specifically for them by someone in the group, so you will never hear what they do from anyone else!

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

Steven Alexander is a graduate of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music with a degree in music education. While there, he led the multiple award-winning a cappella group BisCaydence to a 2nd place finish at the 2019 ICCA Finals. He also served as an associate conductor with the Miami Children’s Chorus and at the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts. His passion for a cappella led to him founding an a cappella program in his last teaching position. Currently based in upstate New York, Steven is pursuing a dual M.A./M.B.A. from the Eastman School of Music and the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester. 

Brandon Burgess attended SUNY Potsdam, where he received his bachelor's degree in music education, with clarinet as his primary instrument. As a freshman, Brandon auditioned for and was accepted into The Potsdam Pitches, the premier co-ed a cappella group on Potsdam's campus. During his time in the group, he arranged music and served as music director, assistant music director, alumni secretary, webmaster, and president. Brandon held a part-time instrumental music teaching position before returning to SUNY Potsdam to pursue his master's degree in music performance, with clarinet as his primary medium. During this period, he also returned to The Potsdam Pitches, helping them place at ICCA Semifinals and and progress on to ICCA Finals as Central Region Champions. Brandon is currently teaching in New York State. 

Bryce Davis is a performer and arts administrator based in Rochester, N.Y. His love for a cappella was ignited in high school by a grainy YouTube video of Rockapella performing "Sixteen Tons," and he never looked back. Bryce studied music theory and history at the University of Rochester, where he sang bass in the Midnight Ramblers and served as creative director of their Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA)-winning 2021 release, Things That You Say. He has also performed and directed with ROC Players Musical Theatre and Wellsville High School's WAVE. 

James Harrington has worn many hats in almost 20 years in the a cappella world. He has arranged for and given clinics to high-caliber groups such as Oregon's On the Rocks and Cornell's Last Call, sung for four years with Cape Cod's Hyannis Sound, served as a hired gun for professional groups such as Ball in the House and Home Free, and remains an active arranger and clinician. With Varsity Vocals, James has competed in, adjudicated, and produced over 20 ICCA and ICHSA shows. He is an operatic bass who holds degrees from Berklee College of Music and Florida State University, and a current doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. His first book, a career guide for aspiring opera singers, will be released this spring on Routledge.

SPECIAL THANKS

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Bryce Mckracken, Carlos Fernandez, Janelle Rainville, Jennifer Lee, and The UW A Cappella Association; 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 Director

PA/MA Program Coordinator

Lucy Jacobs
The Open Director
 ICCA West Producer

Emily Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Andrew Poole
 Director of Digital Media

Erica Tackett
 Director of Marketing & Social Strategy

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Sara Yood
Senior Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central 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

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Danielle Sutherland
 ICHSA Midwest Producer

Jake McVey
 ICHSA Northeast Producer

Cameron Clemens
 ICHSA West Producer

Ben Garza
 ICHSA Southwest Producer

Luke Thomas
 ICHSA South Producer

Adam McNeil
ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Nicole Kholweiss
 ICCA Central Day-Of Producer

Courtney Jenson
 Associate Producer

Emcee Extraordinaire

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 at this event will advance to the 2023 ICCA Central 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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