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 NEW ENGLAND SEMIFINAL

 

Berklee Performance Center
Saturday, July 29, 2017

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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.

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

 

6Mix is an eclectic mix of young professionals and university students from The 6 (Toronto) with a shared passion for music and performance. Founded in January 2017 by two aca-sisters, this group aims to put its best pitches forward, entertain their audience, and to simply share some good laughs along the way!

Birdland Avenue is a contemporary vocal band based in Boston, Mass. The five birds include Haley Castuera, Evan Linsey, Kayla Pichichero, Toria Rainey, and Adrienne Rube. The birds first met in The BU Treblemakers, and formed as a group over a cover of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Summertime.” Since then, the birds of Birdland Avenue have continued singing together, putting their own spin on songs new and old. The group’s musical influences include Ella Fitzgerald, Andra Day, Lianne La Havas, and Thirdstory.

Founded in 2009, Fermata Town is a proud member of the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL). Inspired by the wealth of new talent in the a cappella world, they have worked hard to find their voice and put a unique stamp on the Boston a cappella scene. They pride themselves on their original arrangements, signature sound, and their ability to maintain a healthy balance between their music and active lifestyles.

Martini Glass A Cappella is a semi-professional group from the greater Danbury, Conn. area, where they are known for their powerhouse sound, their confusing name, and their affinity for bright yellow. The group is composed of 13 ladies and one gentlemen, affectionately known as the olive in the martini. Martini first formed in 2004 at Danbury High School, and has carried on for 13 years. With a wide range of styles in their repertoire, including jazz, pop, Broadway, and gospel, this merry band of misfits promises to keep you entertained.

Similar Jones is a high-energy vocal band that primarily rock and soul, with elements of blues, funk, and jazz. Based in the Boston area and known throughout the country, they are one of the longest-running a cappella acts in the business, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. Their repertoire consists of cover songs from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and today, and includes a growing number of original tunes. The Jones sound is marked by tight harmonies, intricate rhythms, innovative arrangements, and, most importantly,  a rock-solid groove. They are thrilled to be part of the very first Varsity Vocals Open and look forward to putting on a great show with their fellow New Englanders!

The Cycle is a semi-professional vocal group out of Boston's North Shore and made up of a cappella enthusiasts from all levels and disciplines. Each member of The Cycle has previously intersected with at least one other member as a fellow singer or director at different points in their respective a cappella careers. The Cycle arranges all of its own music and performs all genres within the contemporary a cappella style. Thanks to their family and friends for all of the support!  

Women of the World was formed as a path for female musicians from across the globe to collaborate through music, as well as to celebrate the diverse ideologies and cultural tenets of women all over the world. Accordingly, the Women of the World repertoire is vast and varied. Constantly searching for new genres to explore, the group has performed in 30 languages (and counting) including Bulgarian, Cuban, Ladino, Brazilian, Turkish, Swaili, Haitian, Indian, Italian, and Japanese. In many ways, this ensemble is a microcosm of the world; each musician in the group has a strong artistic identity shaped by her culture of origin, and finds excitement in exploring those of others. This cross-pollination of genres, rhythms, and global sounds is borderless and spirited, carrying an undeniable message of unity, and creating unique musical results. Channeling the power of collective action, Women of the World has brought together over 200 women from all over the globe, finding inspiration in their music and artistic bond. The four vocal artists of Women of the World are Ayumi Ueda from Japan, Annette Philip from India, Giorgia Renosto from Italy, and Deborah Pierre from Haiti/United States.


GUEST PERFORMER


Uproar A Cappella is the newest iteration of all-male a cappella to hit the Boston scene. Mixing the sounds of Top 40, R&B, and Hip-Hop, Uproar serves up its brand of a cappella with flair, dedication, and infectious energy.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

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.

Evan Feist
has composed, arranged, taught, and performed a cappella music for more than 11 years. As founder of The Creative Vocal Lab, Evan has been teaching singers of all ages to improvise in both small and large ensembles. He earned two master’s degrees from Teachers College at Columbia University and a Bachelor of Music from the Purchase College Conservatory of Music. Evan has vocal coached for “The Voice,” sung with Bobby McFerrin, helped produce “America’s Got Talent,” and is the general manager of Stacks of Wax, an audio production company.

Amy Malkoff 
is the executive director of the Women's A Cappella Association (WACA), and is the marketing director for the A Cappella Education Association. Amy served on the board and as web content director for the Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA), is a longtime ICHSA/ICCA judge, and is certified as a judge for other events. She is a frequent workshop teacher, master clinician, writer, designer, and runner of social media campaigns (www.amymalkoff.com), as well as a singer/songwriter and studio musician (www.amymalkoffmusic.com). She was a founding member of the award-winning groups, All About Buford and Deadline Poet, and has appeared onstage and in the studio with such luminaries as Wayne Brady, Jonathan Brooke, The Persuasions, Ellis Paul, Vance Gilbert, GrooveLily, Patty Griffin, and Dar Williams. She has a degree in music from Kenyon College, with music studies at Youngstown State University and master-level coursework at the New England Conservatory of Music. Amy's music has appeared on both the Rounder Records and Hear Music/Starbucks labels. @amalkoff

Paul Pampinella
, a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, is a veteran vocalist, arranger/composer, and clinician with two Boston-based a cappella ensembles: Vox One and Five O’Clock Shadow. Paul has written, arranged, and produced songs on nine albums between the two groups. As a clinician, he lectures on topics such as vocal technique, performance skills, and arranging. Currently, Paul is on the faculty at Berklee College of Music and teaches private lessons for voice, guitar, bass guitar, piano, and theory/composition. He continues to work with both groups on a part-time basis, giving performances and workshops in the U.S. and Japan.

Ana Morel 
is the choral director at Wakefield High School, in Wakefield, Mass., where she directs five ensembles, including the award-winning groups, She Major and Voices of Steel. She also works as music director for WHS Theater Arts, advises the WHS Tri-M Chapter, and teaches courses in music theory and electronic composition. She is a graduate of Ithaca College (B.M. in music education, 2003, and M.M. in choral conducting, 2009), where she performed with and directed Premium Blend. She is an active clinician, adjudicator, and festival manager, and performs with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Caleb Whelden, Berklee Performance Center Employees and Staff, Cathy Horn, Callie Sokoloski, Susan Scotti, Holly Hayes, Miles Avila, and Samuel Dantowitz; 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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