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 MIDWEST SEMIFINAL

 

DeKalb High School Auditorium
Saturday, August 5, 2017

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

We're talking about this event, and all of our events around the world!

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Follow us @varsityvocals on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and join the conversation using #ACAOPEN

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.

ABOUT TONIGHT'S SHOW

 

The performance order was determined by random draw 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.

TONIGHT'S COMPETITORS

 

Black'd Out is an eight-person a cappella group formed of current and past students at The Ohio State University. Black'd Out originated from an idea to bring an African American interest group to the OSU campus in 2013. The idea eventually fizzed out until the great year of 2017 when the revival of Black'd Out became official! Never looking back, Black'd Out hopes to have a successful debut at the AcaOpen and is blessed to be here with such amazing groups. Thanks to the audience for all of your support and to Varsity Vocals for the continuing growth in the a cappella world! Good luck, everyone!

Enharmonic Fusion 
is a mixed a cappella ensemble from DeKalb High School in DeKalb, Ill. Established in 2010, they advanced to ICHSA Finals that year, and again in 2012, 2015, and 2016. In 2017, they were named Midwest Champions and won 2nd place overall at the ICHSA Finals. When not rehearsing or performing, they enjoy spending free time getting ice cream and listening to a cappella jams. They also enjoy hearing Mr. Erikson gently remind them to clean up their water bottles and music binders. They would like to send a huge thanks to all who have helped them prepare for this event, and to their friends and family for support. They would also like to thank Varsity Vocals for the opportunity to participate and wish the best to all of the other contestants!


Impromptu A Cappella 
is a newly formed group, based out of Indianapolis, Ind.! The group is composed of eight individuals from various backgrounds, ranging from music educators, graphic designers, vet techs, and full-time students. They were brought together through a common love for making great music. Impromptu has great plans for their group, and hope that through song, they can carry their audience through the full emotional spectrum, and have fun doing it.

With a focus on good vocal technique and genuine emotional performance, Inside Voices brings you their very first performance set! The group formed in January of 2017, but don't let that fool you - they already fight like they're family. Please don't be afraid to say hello and enjoy the music!

Lyra was formed in November 2016 and comes from Dayton, Ohio. Each member was initially a part of the same award-winning high school a cappella group and together, they represent six generations of that group. They are named after the constellation "Lyra," which depicts the mythological lyre of Orpheus, a man whose music charmed the world. Together these shining stars hope to brighten the stage through their shared love of music.  

The Spartones is a vocal collaboration of five different groups on Michigan State University’s campus. It is composed of members from Ladies First, State of Fifths, Capital Green, The Spartan Dischords, MSU Accafellas, and a few more friends as well. This summer, they have enjoyed making music together and strengthening the bonds between groups in the MSU a cappella community. In this crazy world that we live in, The Spartones wish to show that no matter the situation, it is crucial to come together and unite to make the world a better place.

Revel
is composed of six musicians hailing from five different states: Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Alaska. These women were brought together through Michigan State University’s Ladies First and Camp A Cappella, a summer program that brings people together over their love for contemporary vocal music. These individuals have trained and worked with professionals in the a cappella industry and are so excited to finally get the chance to sing together. Revel would like to thank their arrangers and coaches for all of the incredible support they have received! Follow Revel on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram at @revelacappella if you like what hear!

Vocalight
, Dayton’s first professional a cappella group, was founded in the summer of 2016. The vocal group is composed of nationally lauded singers from Fairmont High School’s Eleventh Hour and Centerville High School’s ICHSA Champion, Forte. Members of the group have performed with Pentatonix and recorded on their self-titled original album. They have performed in New York City at Town Hall and the Beacon Theatre. Recently, Vocalight returned from a week-long tour in Wisconsin that culminated in opening for Grammy-winning artist, Daya.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Dennis Gephart is in his 15th year as Director of Choral Activities where he directs numerous choral groups, ensembles, and is the vocal director for the high school's musicals. Under his direction, PWHS a cappella
group Limited Edition won the ICHSA Midwest Semifinal four times, were featured on BOHSA, and placed 2nd at the 2016 ICHSA Final in New York City. In addition to Dennis' school responsibilities, he has served as the Wisconsin state representative for the A Cappella Education Association from 2013-present. He was the WCDA State Honors Vocal Jazz assistant director from 2007-2011, and has helped teach the Wisconsin Vocal Jazz institute for the past six years. He holds a Bachelor of Music from UW Stevens Point and a master's degree in administrative leadership from Marian University.

Antonio Rodriguez 
graduated in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in music from Washington University in St. Louis, where he sang with The Amateurs for four years. He also served as arranger and music director of the group. He spent the next five years performing as a stage actor in St. Louis before gaining his union card and moving to Chicago in 2014. Favorite past musical credits include “The Who’s Tommy” (Tommy Walker), “Urinetown” (Bobby Strong), and “Altar Boyz” (Matthew). He was a member of the St. Louis Theatre Circle Award-winning ensemble of the a cappella musical, “All is Calm” for three years, and is a four-time nominee and two-time Theatre Circle Award winner for his individual acting work in both musicals and straight plays. In addition to performing in full-length stage works, he has conceived and performed two solo cabarets, in both St. Louis and Chicago. Antonio is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.

Amy J. Branahl 
has been teaching choral music for 14 years at the high school and middle school levels. She is one of the choral directors at New Trier High School. Additionally, Amy is artistic director of the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago (YCT), a community-based after-school program that enrolls 75 young people in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Amy graduated from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) with a B.M.E. and M.M.E. in choral music education (voice/piano). An avid arranger, she started arranging music during her time at the University of Illinois. Amy serves as an adjudicator for the ICCA and ICHSA with Varsity Vocals, and has been active in the contemporary a cappella scene. Amy has been the guest conductor for several music festivals, notably the 2011 Illinois Music Educators Association District VII Junior High Music Festival, the 2014 District 300 Junior High Chorus Festival, and was chosen to vocal direct this year’s Illinois High School Theater Festival All-state Show, “Sweeney Todd.” She is an active member of American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, NafME, and is serving on the Executive Board as the Illinois State Treasurer for IL-ACDA. Amy and her husband Jared have three beautiful boys and reside in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

Kevin Vondrak
is a conductor, singer and vocal arranger based in Chicago, Ill.For two years, he was music director for The Washington University Stereotypes, leading the group to awards in the ICCA Midwest Quarterfinal and Semifinal rounds, as well as the SoJam A Cappella Festival in Durham, N.C. During this time in St. Louis, he co-founded Backporch Productions, a vocal arranging and audio production studio, and sang as a member of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus. Currently, he is a master’s degree candidate in choral conducting at Northwestern University, and directs Echo Effect, an award-winning all-male a cappella group from Niles West High School in Skokie, Ill.

Kimberly Raschka Sailor is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB), with more than 300 reviews authored since 2005 for groups at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She is the co-founder and past president of the University of Southern California's Reverse Osmosis, a group that has competed in the ICCA Finals. Kimberly has also served as a CARA (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award) nominator and judge. In addition to volunteering in the a cappella community, Kimberly is an author and elected school board member for the Mount Horeb Area School District in Wisconsin.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank DeKalb High School and the DeKalb administration, Angel Smith, Travis Erikson, Brian Allen and the auditorium team, Bryan and Sarah of ACP, and Jim Ryan. Thank you to our wonderful volunteers, Jake Hackl, Trent Snyder, Tatum Weiss, Lee Stovall, Ari Craven, Allison Calteux, and our DeKalb family and friends; 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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