THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF

A CAPPELLA

OPEN

DEAR FRIENDS,

 

Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 21st season! After two incredible decades of presenting the best student groups – on stage and in the studio – our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever.

Our tournaments have grown from a handful of events to the massive showcase it is today, featuring over 600 groups and over 8,000 singers at over 80 events across the US and UK.

Our tournaments have inspired the hit movie Pitch Perfect, based on the non-fiction book documenting the true story of rival groups competing against each other in our very own ICCA. Already the highest-grossing musical series of all time, the franchise will release its third film at the end of this year.

The stories of our real ICCA competitors are also the subject on the TV docu-series Sing It On, which follows competing groups on their journey to ICCA Finals. Sing It On aired in 80 million homes on POP TV and is now available 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 are thrilled to launch the International Championship of A Cappella Open this year. “The Open” (#acaopen) is an all-access a cappella tournament that will bring together singers of all ages, regardless of student status, to compete on an international stage. 

The 2017 Open Finals will take place in Carnegie Hall on Saturday, September 23, and the winner will receive a cash prize of $25,000 to launch their professional career. The winners of the 2017 ICCA and ICHSA tournaments are automatically entered in The Open Finals.

We hope 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.

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 21 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where the inaugural 2017 Open season takes it next. 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

THE OPEN INTERNATIONAL SEMIFINAL

 

Online Video Submission Competition

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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 (AcaOpen). We also produce the annual Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and 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 (ICCA) took place from January through April in nine regions across the country and around the world. Each region holds anywhere from two 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 historic Beacon Theatre in New York City. This year the Nor'easters from Northeastern University were crowned the 2017 ICCA Champions, and will represent the ICCA in the A Cappella Open Finals.

 The high school tournament (ICHSA) finished its 12th year in April and continues to grow fast. We are now holding quarterfinal rounds in most regions, so that we can feature even more high school groups. The winners of each of eight semifinal rounds advance to the ICHSA Finals at The Town Hall in New York City. This year Vocal Rush from Oakland School for the Arts were crowned the 2017 ICHSA Champions, and will represent the ICHSA in the A Cappella Open Finals.

The inaugural Open tournament is taking place from July through September, featuring six semifinal events and an international semifinal. The winners of each of the seven semifinal rounds will advance to the Open Finals at Carnegie Hall in New York City along with the ICCA and ICHSA Champions to compete for the A Cappella Open Championship and $25,000!

 For a full tournament schedule, visit us at www.varsityvocals.com.

OUR COMPETITORS

AKA Crescendo is a young collegiate a cappella group from Croatia. They were founded in 2013 by combining two rival groups on campus, and have been performing together since, on campus and around their home city of Zadar. Their style includes Croatian and English music and ranges from traditional to pop songs, and the group is always willing to take on new musical challenges. Their arrangements are group projects and every member is encouraged to participate in the creation of the sound and choreo, which adds to the uniqueness of the group's style and performance. AKA Crescendo currently has 11 members, and each one brings a different flavor to the group, resulting in a perfect mix. So far, they are the only collegiate a cappella group in Croatia, but they hope more groups will join them soon. They had their first public performance at the end of the 2012/13 academic year, and have participated consistently ever since at events on and off campus. It is important to mention that this group functions without a separate music director, and that all of their arrangements and choreography are from the group as a whole.

With explosive rap, soulful riffs, and a completely unique sound, Drums of War produces hip hop and R&B music with just six voices. Drums of War first blasted onto the scene at the Vocal Australia AUSACA 2015 Championship, where they competed against more than 30 groups from around Australia and were crowned the 2015 Australian A Cappella Champion, plus individual awards, including Best Vocal Percussionist, Best Contemporary Song, and Best Soloist. 2016 saw Drums of War begin its international ventures, with a showing in the invitation-only Asia Pacific A Cappella Championship League in Singapore. There, they battled groups from Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, and more, ultimately placing 2nd overall, and receiving awards for Best Stage Presence and Best Pop Arrangement. In 2017 so far, Drums of War has toured to Hong Kong to perform as headliners at the Hong Kong International A Cappella Festival alongside The Techtonics (U.K.) and Acapellago (PHI), released their debut EP, Shadowboxing, and have toured to Queensland as headliners for Voices in Paradise. With appearances on national television stations Channel 7, 9GO, and Channel 31, in addition to their multiple international appearances, Drums of War is expanding into the world stage and pushing the boundaries of vocal music.

NoVI 
is a London-based a cappella group delivering a unique fusion of contemporary performance, classic ensemble, and cutting-edge technology. Established in 2016, this young, ambitious group embraces a wide range of genres, and puts a personal stamp on each song in their repertoire. With original songwriting and innovative vocal arrangements at the heart of their ethos, NoVI seeks to make both great music and great art. As a cappella becomes more and more prevalent in mainstream culture, they are excited to share their message with a growing audience, and explore the depth of human emotion through music.


The Quintessence (formerly The Quintessential Five) was formed in September of 2012 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Buka Kartozia is responsible for the creation of this amazing ensemble of young singers, and their ability to perform outrageously complicated arrangements with surprising ease. The group's repertoire mainly consists of jazz, occasionally synthesized with ancient Georgian folklore. Each piece stands out for its rhythmic nuance and harmonic complexity. The group strives for the highest levels of stage presence, performance, and professionalism, and consistently amazes their audiences. They are called “Phanmen A Cappella Youngsters” – at the Festival “Voicemania” in Vienna, Austria. As stated by the Minister of Culture, “The Quintessence is our country's taste, intelligence, creativity, and cultural ambassadors all over the world". The group participated in several major contests in Germany, Austria, Finland, and the United States of America, and won a solid prize at each of them. They have also performed and participated in festivals in cities such as Vienna, Budapest, Trnava, Visegrad, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Leipzig, and more.

OUR JUDGES

 

Diana Galeano is a graduate of Florida State University, where she studied music education with an emphasis in secondary choral education. At FSU, she sang with 2009 ICCA South champions The AcaBelles. Since graduating, she has worked as a high school chorus teacher, director at FSU's summer music camps, and is currently the assistant director and proud camp mom at A Cappella Academy in Los Angeles, Calif. When she's not teaching or taking care of her aca-children, Diana teaches at a cappella festivals, arranges, offers masterclasses to groups in the greater Boston area, and sings with semi-professional groups Sound Off and The Hexachords, as well as the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

Monty Hill is a seasoned a cappella professional. A longtime fan of groups such as The Blenders and Rockappella, he followed his talent to Morgan State University, where he majored in Vocal Music Performance and Education. After graduation, Monty became a high school teacher and created three a cappella groups at his school, one of which eventually evolved into a fully credited class. He is a former member of DC groups The Lobby and Vox Pop. He now enjoys singing baritone for the professional group Ball in the House, traveling across worldwide to spread the good news of a cappella!

Jeff Magee is a vocal music education graduate from the University of Toronto. He lives in Toronto where he currently teaches high school vocal and instrumental music. He has been an active part of Toronto's a cappella community for twelve years as a beatboxer, singer, director, arranger, and vocal coach. Jeff has experience in a variety of a cappella choirs, ranging from jazz and classical to pop music. He has directed collegiate a cappella choirs for eight years, incorporating award-winning choreography, soloists and arrangements. Jeff is passionate about bringing the fun and excitement of a cappella music to new audiences.

Alexander Koutzoukis is co-owner (among other titles) of Plaid Productions, a full-service a cappella production studio based in Boston. While attending Tufts University for computer science, he spent five years in The Beelzebubs, two of them as music director. He got his start in a cappella production with Ed Boyer and Bill Hare on two award-winning Bubs albums (Pandaemonium and Play the Game) and went on to help record and edit BATTLE and Helix, as well as about half of The Warblers’ tracks from season 2 of “Glee.” He won a 2010 Best Male Collegiate Arrangement CARA for “All the Love In the World,” was runner-up in 2012 for “Kings and Queens,” and was also runner-up for Favorite Vocal Percussionist in the 2010 ACAs. He currently executive produces BOSS and graphic designs for BOSS and SoJam.


Jim Raycroft holds a master's degree in voice from the California Institute of the Arts and has performed all over North America and in Europe. He is a 30-year member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and sang with the Los Angeles Opera for 12 years. He has also appeared in the soundtracks for numerous movies including "Home Alone," "Jurassic Park," "A.I.," "Mars Attacks," "Waterworld," "XXX," "Lady In The Water," and "Godzilla," and appeared as a singing pirate in the opening scene of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." He has appeared on the Grammys, in numerous TV shows, and has sung for the President of the United States and the Queen of England. He founded and sings with the vocal jazz group Pacific Swingline and the barbershop quartet The Nickelodeon. He founded The Singers Elite Vocal Big Band, sang with the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, music director for the San Fernando Valley Youth Chorus and music director at First United Methodist Church of Redondo Beach. His singer referral service, Singers Elite, has provided vocal entertainment of all kinds to Southern California audiences for more than 25 years, and he founded and produces the annual Choral Taste of Los Angeles, a reading session of choral music by local composers.

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

The Open Mid-Atlantic Producer

Andrea Poole
 ICHSA Director

Lucy Jacobs
The Open Director
 ICCA Southwest Producer

ICCA Northwest Producer

Andrew Poole
 Director of Digital Media

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Erica Tackett
 Director of Marketing & Social Strategy

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Mark Chen
 Adjudication Co-Director

Emily Flanders
 Adjudication Co-Director

The Open New England Producer
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Sara Yood
 ICCA, ICHSA, & Open Finals Producer

The Open Northeast Producer
 ICHSA Northeast Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West Producer

Henry Harrod
 ICCA UK Producer

Elise Hackl
The Open Midwest Producer 

ICHSA Midwest Producer
 ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
 ICHSA South Producer
 ICHSA Southwest Co-Producer

Courtney Jensen
 ICHSA Northwest 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 placing group advances to The Open Finals.

THE OPEN

 

The International Championship
 of A Cappella Open Finals

ARE YOU READY?

Carnegie Hall
Saturday, September 23, 2017

BRING THE HARMONY HOME

 

Find your favorite groups on Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and Best of High School A Cappella (BOHSA), available for purchase on iTunes!

PURCHASE & DOWNLOAD

GET THE GEAR

 

The official Varsity Vocals store is open for business! Represent with your very own official Varsity Vocals swag!

 

SHOP VARSITY VOCALS

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