co-founder, camp director
Avi Kaplan is best known as vocal bass of the world-renowned a cappella group, Pentatonix, but he is also a Grammy-winning arranger, composer, and solo artist. He majored in opera and choral studies at Mt. San Antonio College, a school known for its strong choral and a cappella tradition. While at school, Avi sang with a cappella group Fermata Nowhere, vocal jazz group Singcopation, and the Mt. SAC Chamber Singers, racking up competition wins at the ICCA, Monterey Jazz Festival, and Choir of the World competition. Avi has worked with artists such as Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Cee Lo Green, Ne-Yo, Sara Bareilles, Nick Lachey, Ben Folds and many more.
co-founder, camp director
Ben is a Grammy-winning arranger, vocal producer, and music director from Los Angeles. A graduate of the USC Thornton School of Music, Ben sang with, arranged for, and directed four-time ICCA champions the SoCal VoCals during his time at USC. He is a longtime collaborator with Pentatonix, having co-arranged, engineered and produced all 5 of their currently released albums, including the platinum-selling "That's Christmas To Me". Ben also has an extensive resume in film, TV, and commercials, which includes work for Pitch Perfect 1 and 2, The Sing-Off, Glee, Covergirl, Lifetime, and MTV. He is currently developing two exciting new a cappella groups.
co-founder, camp director
Rob Dietz is a multiple CARA winning producer who has been arranging, performing, and critiquing contemporary a cappella music for over ten years. His career began in high school as director of the critically acclaimed group Ascending Height, with whom he produced the first all-original high school a cappella album. Rob has studied at the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney and at the Ithaca College School of Music, where he directed the award winning all-male group, Ithacappella. Since graduation, Rob has been an arranger and group coach for seasons 3, 4, and 5 of NBC’s The Sing-Off, as well as a vocal percussionist for the Warblers on Fox’s hit show, Glee.
Beth received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and Music Education from Ithaca College, and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from California State University, Northridge. She has sung in various ensembles (opera, musical theater, choir, a cappella) and worked extensively as an administrator and church music director. Beth recently moved to Virginia from Seattle, where she was a voice teacher, coach, and adjudicator for the past ten years, as well as an active performer. She ran her own private studio, and also taught at Village Theatre and Seattle Pacific University.
Shams Ahmed is an arranger, music director, and educator from Cherry Hill, NJ. He is a graduate of Northeastern University, where he directed a cappella heavy-hitters and two-time ICCA champions, The Nor'easters, while studying Business. During his tenure, Shams earned numerous awards, including Outstanding Arrangement wins at the ICCA, as well as several CARA awards. Shams is also featured alongside the Nor'easters in Pop TV's reality docu-series, Sing It On, where he can be seen coaching the group. He founded the all-female group, Pitch, Please! who are featured on the show as well. In the fall, he can be found bringing a cappella to South Beach alongside a panel of experts including Ben Bram, Robert Dietz, and India Carney at The Betsy's A Cappella Festival. Shams serves as a regular judge at ICCA, ICHSA, and CASA events all over the country. Outside of a cappella, he serves as Director of Talent & Creative for Northeastern University's $1.4 billion Empower fundraising campaign. He is currently based in Los Angeles, arranging, coaching, and overseeing projects in the a cappella world.
Will Cabaniss is a vocal arranger and composer. He is a former music director of the University of Chicago a cappella group Voices in Your Head and an alumnus of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. He’s sung on four continents and in
three ICCA Finals. He also produces electronic music and helps maintain the studio space he shares with three visual artists. Will lives and works on the South Side of Chicago.
VJ Rosales is a singer, songwriter, arranger, and music director from Los Angeles. Hailing from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music (CSU Long Beach) with a B.M. in Jazz Studies, VJ is a versatile musician who is equally adept in jazz, pop, and R&B. During his college career, he sang in the top vocal jazz ensemble “Pacific Standard Time” at CSU Long Beach, performing at the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival. Presently, he works as a voice teacher at the Silverlake Conservatory, founded by members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In April 2013, he co-created The Filharmonic and competed on NBC's The Sing Off, making it to the semi-finals. With The Filharmonic's success on national television, he continues to work with them, with plans to record and tour.
Christopher is a singer, songwriter, arranger and vocal coach from Newport News, VA. A graduate of the FSU School of Music, he led the co-ed All-Night Yahtzee to three consecutive ICCA Finals appearances and is a two-time winner of the Outstanding Soloist award. As a coach, Christopher has adjudicated, sung and instructed at vocal festivals across Asia, Europe, Australia and the US. In 2012, Christopher joined the music eam of The Sing-Off (Season 3). After the show, he co-founded the international touring group, The Exchange, which has performed hundreds of shows for audiences in over 25 different countries on 6 continents. The Exchange joined The Backstreet Boys as support for their 32 city “In A World Like This” stadium tour, and competed on Season 5 of NBC’s The Sing-Off, taking the runner-up title. In 2016, Christopher and The Exchange will tour central Asia as part of a cultural diplomacy tour supported by the US Department of State.
James Rose is a prolific arranger, performer, producer, songwriter & educator, based in London. Over the years, he has become a veteran performer of a cappella & vocal harmony, touring worldwide with his acclaimed internet sensation group, ‘Accent’. James has an extensive portfolio of arrangements and originals for prominent groups, choirs and bands, including The Real Group, Voces8, Naturally 7, The Swingle Singers, Rajaton, Accent, NBC’s ‘The Sing Off’ winner Committed, The Filharmonic, Arturo Sandoval, Peter Hollens and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. He recently worked as a vocal coach and arranger for BBC1’s prime-time show, ‘Pitch Battle’, collaborating closely with Bebe Rexha. Driven by a love of teaching, James works as the vocal harmony professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, alongside workshopping internationally with vocalists and choirs worldwide. Instead of sleeping, he also composes for videogames, creates musical apps, and is a producer of original electronic music. links: cync.app terranemusic.com
MaryAnne Muglia Smith
MaryAnne Muglia Smith is a vocalist, music director, and arranger from Tempe, Arizona. She received a Bachelor of Choral Music Education from Northern Arizona University, a school known for their strong choral roots and education program. At NAU, she was a member of the top vocal jazz and choral ensemble performing at ACDA conventions and touring internationally. She was also the music director of an eight-member a cappella group called Unaccompanied, and recently produced their album: “Pinetones”. She has had the honor of singing in choirs for artists such as Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman, The Real Group, and Pentatonix. Today, she is currently performing and recording original music with her band “Ezekiel”, directing church music, and teaching piano and voice lessons.
Amanda Taylor was born in Seattle, Washington. Growing up, she participated in a number of the city's prestigious ensembles, such as the Seattle Youth Symphony, Vocalpoint! Seattle, and the Seattle Girls' Choir. During these years of growth, she was accepted into the Grammy Jazz Ensembles (one of eight students selected from the USA). Through this organization, she was able to perform throughout Grammy week, at such events as the Blue Note Records party, the MusiCares Person of the Year tribute, and the Grammy Celebration After Party (which included performances with artists Cassandra Wilson, Terence Blanchard, and Herbie Hancock.) Amanda graduated from Central Washington University with her BM in Music Composition. She is an active studio singer (World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Destiny, music teacher (Mt. Si High School, the Northwest Choirs, and more), and composer/arranger.
New-Jersey-born and Nebraska-raised, Tehillah Alphonso is a senior at the University of Southern California, where she studies Popular Music Performance with a dual vocal and piano emphasis in the Thornton School of Music. Though music was introduced to Tehillah at the early age of three years old, her musical endeavors began in 2014 with her acceptance into A Cappella Academy. In addition to being a current full-time student at USC, Tehillah has served as the Business Manager and Music Director of five-time ICCA champions, the SoCal VoCals. Her time in the VoCals has led her to perform in venues such as the Staples Center, the Rose Bowl, and Carnegie Hall. She has shared the stage with notable artists including NIKI, Dan Wilson, Rozzi, and Billie Eilish. She also works as a background vocalist, session musician, songwriter, high school teacher, and arranger in Los Angeles. Tehillah is ecstatic to return as a director to A Cappella Academy this summer!
Taylor is a singer and teacher living in Los Angeles, California. She earned her B.A. in English and Masters in Education from UCLA, where she sang with the award winning co-ed a cappella group, the ScatterTones. During her time in the group, she performed at prestigious venues all over the country including the White House, the Hollywood Bowl, and the ICCA Finals stage in New York City. Currently, she is a full-time 8th grade English teacher at Manhattan Beach Middle School. At camp, Taylor teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts and Care of Magical Kittens.
Quinn D'Andrea is a singer/songwriter from Santa Monica, California. She is currently finishing her undergrad in the Popular Music Program at the University of Southern California.She has spent 15 years studying classical piano, and 10 years performing in musical theatre. While at USC, she formed a folk/pop band, "Trousdale," with fellow classmates and has been performing and recording with them for past two years. Last summer she toured the east coast and spent time songwriting with her band-mates in Nashville. Four years ago, Quinn started a choir at a Los Angeles high school that was lacking a music program, and teaches there once a week.She is also currently the Music Director of the 4-time ICCA champions the SoCal VoCals, and hopes to use some of her experience with VoCals this summer at academy!
Marisa is a seasoned vocalist living in Los Angeles who has over 15 years of experience in choirs, musical theatre and a cappella. She studied Psychology and Musical Theater at USC, and also sang with and was president of the award winning a cappella group, Reverse Osmosis. Marisa also worked at acclaimed performing arts camp Arts Unlimited for 5 consecutive summers, working as a counselor, coordinator, teacher, choreographer and musical director. After graduating, Marisa helped found award-winning a cappella sextet Simply Put, who shared the stage with Sing Off champions Nota and Committed. Marisa now manages and sings in the L.A. Choral Lab and is also the Co-Founder and COO of Endeavor Studios, LLC, a recording studio located in West Los Angeles. Marisa also lends her voice to recording projects from time to time.
Austin Kiley is a vocal music teacher at his hometown high school in Vestal, NY. He received a BM and MM in Music Education from Ithaca College, where he served as the president of Ithacappella. At Vestal, he directs the annual musical, two a cappella groups, a jazz choir, and a select choir, and teaches music theory and history classes. One of his groups, Bear Necessities, has won multiple awards at the ICHSA's and is represented on BOHSA. Austin runs The Vocal Connection in upstate NY, which pairs up high school and collegiate a cappella groups for year-long mentorships. He loves community theatre and reading fantasy/sci-fi!
Lily is a singer and beatboxer, originally from LA, currently living in New York Citayy! She graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in May 2019, with a BFA in Musical Theatre. For four years she was a member of The NYU N'Harmonics - winning the ICCA's in 2019. She was music director of N'harmz during her junior year and choreographer for multiple competitions. Before college, she sang with Vivace - a nationally ranked women's choir from Calabasas High School. She also toured China and performed at Carnegie Hall with her award-winning HS a cappella group, Unstrumental. Aside from music, Lily does stand-up too often, drinks too much coffee, and tweets a normal amount.
Singer, instrumentalist, director and arranger Tracy Robertson maintains a life-long passion for music and vocal harmony. Upon transferring from SUNY Fredonia’s classical vocal and compositional training to Berklee College of Music, he joined the award-winning a cappella group “Pitch Slapped” (SoJam and ICCA Champions) and became their musical director. He has worked with names such as Rhiannon Watson, Joey Blake, and Bobby McFerrin, and performed with renowned musicians of Quito, Ecuador where he also led a vocal improvisation workshop at UDLA. He has performed throughout the US, recently at the 2014 JEN Conference in Dallas with Berklee’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble.
Selame Scarlett hails from Okemos, Mich. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, she was part of Capital Green A Cappella, and served as music director, arranger and vocal percussionist. Currently, she is a clinician for high school and collegiate groups in the Midwest. She serves as a percussionist and vocalist for the CARA-winning, all-female sextet, Lady Jaye, and the all-female gospel powerhouse group, Traces, which was featured on Season 5 of NBC's “The Sing-Off.” Selame has been fortunate enough to record alongside groups such as Naturally 7, The Boxettes, Pentatonix, Duwende, and Traces of Blue (formerly Afro-Blue)! She has led percussion workshops and masterclasses, both on her own and with her beatboxing colleagues. Aside from music, she is currently pursuing a Masters in Healthcare Management and hopes to run her own hospital one day. Listen/stream her newest single, “Warm” on all musical platforms!
Sean Patrick Riley
SPR is a classically trained vocalist, seasoned competition judge and a cappella coach, as well as a registered nurse. With roots in the Midwest and wistful branches that have carried him all the way to NYC, Sean got his start in third grade with his break-out role as Brigitta in a local production of The Sound of Music. He continued with musical theater through high school, broke into a cappella and opera in college, and his love affair with musical performance has never ended. He earned his bachelor’s in both vocal performance and advertising, as well as his master’s in nursing from Saint Louis University where he music directed the award-winning - recent ICCA finalists - Bare Naked Statues. Along his way, he's grown comfortable singing anything from Britney and Beyoncé, to Bach and Buxtehude. Highlights from the past year include: relocating to New York, judging ICHSA Finals, and performing alongside the soundtracks of Pitch Perfect 1 & 2. SPR currently works as a surgical ICU nurse at NYU Langone Medical Center.
director of operations
Tom is a passionate and dedicated a cappella facilitator, event producer, and music director. He is the exec. producer of the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, and has formerly served as director of the Contemporary A Cappella League. With a considerable background in vocal and instrumental music, Tom was bitten by the a cappella bug in 2009 when he decided to create and direct his own group, the award-winning Frequency, and has been a passionate advocate of all-vocal music ever since. Currently music directing the award-winning Frequency as well as a spiritual center, he balances music, work, and family, and lives with his wife and three children in South OC.
live sound engineer
A resident of Glendale, CA, Trist grew up in Cheyenne, WY where he became addicted to vocal harmonies! He attended Northwest College and the University of Northern Colorado, majoring in music education. In 1995, he co-founded the pop-jazz vocal group m-pact, with which he has performed in festivals and concert halls around the world. Trist has also been known to work on the other side of the microphone, as an audio engineer for several vocal groups and bands,
including Pentatonix, Straight No Chaser, VoicePlay, and Take 6. When he's not performing and mixing, Trist also finds time to participate as a clinician and adjudicator in clinics and festivals worldwide which enable him to share his love of music with others. Trist is having the time of his life making music recently with m-pact, Take 6, Bobby McFerrin, New York Voices, The Swingle Singers, Vox Audio, and now as a member of The Manhattan Transfer!
Chris Juengel is an award-winning studio album producer and live sound engineer with more than a decade of experience. He is part owner and Chief Creative Officer of Liquid 5th, a leading international a cappella production company headquartered in Durham, NC. Chris has run sound for hundreds of shows, which has earned him an acute ear for the specific needs of a cappella groups in an amplified performance setting. He toured with Pentatonix as their sound technician in 2013 and has also worked with Varsity Vocals, PopTV's Sing it On, A&E's Pitch Slapped, CASA and many more. Chris and his family currently reside in Burlington, NC.
Born in San Francisco and living in Las Vegas, Chester is an instrumentalist, beatboxer, and a photographer. His love for music started in band and eventually made it into one of the greatest halls in America, Carnegie Hall. His participation in the NMEA (Nevada Music Education Association) All-State Band and All-State Jazz as a bass trombonist for three years straight solidified his career in music. In 2017, Chester became a member of A Capella Academy as a Vocal Percussionist, and is coming back as a proud photographer for the program.
Ashlee is a singer from Dallas, Texas who is studying theatre education at Texas State university. Ashlee was in choir all throughout middle school and high school, including the varsity A Cappella choir her junior and senior year. She also had the honor of being the president of the Midlothian High School’s theatre department for two years in a row. During and after high school Ashlee directed, assistant directed, and choreographed many plays and musicals for her community. She is also a proud alumni of A Cappella Academy.
Carly Wood is a singer and actor from Lake Oswego, Oregon. She studies musical theater at UCLA in the school of Theater, Film and Television, and is also a member of the school’s premiere a cappella group, the ScatterTones. Carly is a proud Academy alum and even prouder recipient of a score of 4 on the AP Music Theory test.