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 NORTHEAST SEMIFINAL

 

Kaye Playhouse
Saturday, August 5, 2017

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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

varsityvocals

@varsityvocals

@varsityvocals

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

 

Andrew John Kim, Johnny Buffalo, Mallory Moser, Melissa Jordano, and Mike Hinkle are the five members that make up Backtrack. This dynamic fivesome is based in New York City and performs across the nation at universities, festivals, private functions, and more. They have been called “the darlings of YouTube,” where they have over 8.5 million views and 100,000 subscribers. Check out them out on all social media @BacktrackVocals and at www.backtrackvocals.com.

Downbeat, a semi-professional a cappella group from the greater New York City area, covers contemporary music in its own unique fashion. Started by a group of friends who sang together in college, Downbeat aims to continue making music and grow as performers. While the members of Downbeat work in various fields, including music education, marketing, and sales, music remains an integral part of their day-to-day lives. They are extremely excited to compete in the first-ever AcaOpen, and look forward to the show.

The New York-based Echo pulls together singers from different walks of life. Several Echo performers can be seen onstage as far away as Skagway, Alaska, or at burlesque shows right here in the city. Their ranks also include teachers, a wedding planner, marketing managers, a photographer, and even an aspiring lawyer. Although they have their day jobs, a love of music brought them together and encouraged them to form Echo. As a group, they perform around the New York metropolitan area and on YouTube, slaying a cappella covers of yesterday and today's hits. If you find yourself at an Echo show, be prepared for nostalgic throwbacks, a 10-minute medley (or two), belting that’ll melt your face off, and some Beyoncé. There’s almost always Beyoncé.

RANGE is an a cappella group composed of artists from various facets of the entertainment industry and on Broadway. This New York-based group is best known for its “HAMILTON [in 7 minutes]” mash-up, which has garnered nearly four million views in a just over one year. In addition, the group has performed on “E! Live from the Red Carpet: Countdown to the 87th Academy Awards,” collaborated with Nickelodeon on six music videos, as well as with Billboard, Sesame Street, and Playbill. RANGE performed their “Evolution of Kelly Clarkson” with Kelly Clarkson herself at Radio City Music Hall during her “Piece by Piece: tour. More recently, they performed at the inaugural ceremony for the Lincoln Center Hall of Fame honoring Broadway producer/director, Harold Prince. Their premiere album, RANGE vol. 1, dropped in March of 2017. For more information visit www.rangeacappella.com. @rangeacappella

Reverb is a New York-based a cappella group founded in 2017. Since these six female voices came together, Reverb has built a foundation to progress a cappella performance through a variety of genres, focusing mainly on pop, rock, alternative, and whatever else speaks to them. They’ll be making their grand debut at The Open Northeast Semifinal along with special guest and vocal percussionist extraordinaire, Ben Conlon.

Stiletta is a New York-based, all-female a cappella sextet, combining pop leads, dance beats, and hip-hop choreography. In 2016, the ladies of Stiletta were crowned National Champions at the 32nd Annual National Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival. In the history of the competition, Stiletta is the first and only group to ever “sweep the Sweeps” by winning in every possible award category: 1st place, Audience Favorite, Best Arrangement, and Best Original Song. This enormous accomplishment came on the tail end of having won First Place and Audience Favorite at the 2015 Mid-Atlantic and 2016 New York Harmony Sweepstakes competitions, as well as Best Vocal Percussion and Best Arrangement. Stiletta members also boast multiple Off-Broadway and voice-over credits, WAMMY and CARAs, original cast recordings for “Memphis” and “Dora the Explorer,” a top rank at the Beatbox World Championship, and a half-decade directing the Single Singers at SingStrong A cappella Festival. These ladies have the moves, the grooves, and even the shoes, so get pumped!

The Lost Keys is a New York based, co-ed a cappella group. They bring a soulful sound to contemporary and classic pop music, aim to create a musical experience that entertains and inspires audiences of all ages. From flashmob weddings to Arlene's Grocery, this group has become a staple in the aca-music scene. 2015 marked the release of their debut EP, UNLOCKED. It was named one of the Top Albums of the Year by RARB, including two songs on the "Top Songs of the Year" list. UNLOCKED also received two CARA nominations for Best Professional Arrangement for a Non-Scholastic Group and Best CAL song. One of the tracks, "Burn," was chosen for the National A Cappella compilation album, Voices Only Forte VI. The Lost Keys have also received awards for Best Soloist and Best Arrangement at the New York Regional Harmony Sweepstakes competition. In April 2016, they were thrilled and honored to open for The Doobie Brothers on the Grand Ballroom stage of the Waldorf Astoria as a part of a benefit fundraiser for NewYork-Presbyterian. Visit www.thelostkeysnyc.com for more information.

TONEWALL is the all-volunteer a cappella band of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. They “live for the applause of a worthy cause!” Their repertoire includes uplifting anthems, classic tunes, and sexy hits from today’s artists, and they share a fundamental commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice. TNWL went live in February of 2016 and, since then, they’ve performed for the Fire Department of NYC, NYC City Council, Pride Rally, Madison Square Garden Theatre, Yankee Stadium, Research Foundation to Cure AIDS, and the off-Broadway cast of “That Golden Girls Show,” to name a few. They entertain with a message and love it when fans ( ‘Toners’) get in on the action. Sing, scream, laugh, and cry with them! Bust loose and live your truth! xoxo #trueyou #gayacappella

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Dubbed “the next generation of a cappella specialist” by “Pitch Perfect” and “The Sing-Off” vocal producer, Deke Sharon, Kari Francis is an avid vocalist, composer, and educator based in New York. She has shared the stage with Taylor Swift at the American Country Music Awards, collaborated with Imogen Heap in her “Earth” project concert series, and competed on Season 3 of NBC’s “The Sing-Off” with Kinfolk 9. Kari studied composition with Lei Liang and Chinary Ung at UC San Diego and conducting with Mark Scatterday and Brad Lubman at the Eastman School of Music. She taught musicianship classes through the Eastman Community Music School, and was assistant conductor to the Eastman Women's Chorus and the Amadeus Children’s Choir Chorale. Following her time at Eastman, Kari was a Conducting Fellow at the Young People's Chorus of New York City. She directs "The Art of A Cappella" at CUNY Hunter College, an ensemble-class dedicated to exploring, arranging, and performing contemporary a cappella music. In addition to her vocal projects, Kari has been an active lecturer and clinician since 2009. She routinely gives workshops on musicianship, arranging, and vocal percussion at music festivals and vocal camps across the States. Kari graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from UC San Diego and holds an M.A. in music education from the Eastman School. You can find her online at acappellaprofessor.com

Marc Silverberg 
is an adjunct professor at Five Towns College and former Director of Education for CASA.org. He is the author of “Quest for the A Cappella Major,” a blog that discusses the continuing education of contemporary a cappella music and group improvisation. He has presented workshops on vocal improvisation at several CASA.org sponsored festivals, SUNY Purchase, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, The New York State School Music Association, the Nassau County PEAK Festival, as well as the American Choral Directors Association’s 2013 national convention. His CAL Group, Satellite Lane, was crowned the 2013 and 2014 New York Harmony Sweepstakes Audience Favorite, and he won Best Arrangement in the 2013 and 2016 Harmony Sweepstakes competitions. Under his pseudonym, “Docacappella,” he has released several humorous a cappella parodies, including “I’ll Never Be In Pentatonix,” which was nominated for a 2016 CARA. In addition to being an a cappella clinician, conductor, and performer, he also writes original musicals and plays. His original work, “He’s Not Himself,” premiered Off-Broadway in 2012 as part of the New York Music Theatre Festival. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Westminster Choir College.

Meredith Strang h
as been active in the a cappella community as a singer, arranger, judge, director, and group mentor for nearly 25 years. She is currently the music director for Treble NYC, which recently appeared in the movie, “How to Be Single.” As an arranger for NYC A Cappella, she creates award-winning arrangements for vocal groups across the nation. During her college years, she directed University of Delaware’s Deltones, who went on to be cast on NBC's “The Sing-Off.” Meredith is a member of CAL, the Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA), and was also a producer for CASA’s VoCALnation Festival, featuring headliners The Swingle Singers and Duwende. In addition to her love of a cappella, Meredith sings in a rock band, a jazz duo, and does backing vocals for artists such as Phillip Phillips, A Great Big World, and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.

Abbey Jane
, a native Texan at heart, sings with and arranges for Duwende. A four-time CARA winner, Duwende has performed at the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, the United Nations Ambassadors Ball, and a World AIDS Day Event at the Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam. In addition to television appearances on NBC and Fox, Duwende has been a featured performer at several Sundance Film Festivals, and has given a TEDxTalk for Johnson and Johnson. Abbey enjoys being involved as a clinician and judge at scholastic a cappella conferences and competitions; and she is part of the Women's A Cappella Association team, serving as their bookkeeper. While Abbey was a music major at Franklin and Marshall College, she sang in the mixed group, The Poor Richards. She eventually became the music director, and later on, ended up marrying the music director from her freshman year!

Thomas Paster
is the director of vocal music at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, N.J. He is the director of Highlands Voices, which is currently being featured on Lifetime’s “Pitch Slapped.” The group reigns as National A Cappella Convention Champion, was ICHSA National Champion in 2014, and won the ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Semifinals for five years running. Thomas has been an adjunct professor of music at Kean University and William Paterson University, and received his B.M. from Ithaca College and M.S. from the University of Scranton. Thomas is an active composer/arranger and writes arrangements for numerous a cappella groups. He is proud to be the N.J. rep for the A Cappella Education Association.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Mike Jankowski and Robert Fera, Mark Lorenzen and the staff of the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, Craig Chu. Charley Mills, and Evan Feist; 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

varsityvocals