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 NORTHWEST SEMIFINAL

 

Rialto Theater
Saturday, July 8, 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

 

Howdy from HardChord! This brand-new group is composed of 15 former and current members from Texas A&M’s HardChord Dynamix, plus one member from The University of North Texas Green Tones. They are so excited to return to the stage this year for Varsity Vocals’ first-ever Open! Thanks and Gig’em!

Recently formed, JANE is composed of alumnae of the collegiate a cappella groups, BYU Noteworthy and UO Divisi. Varsity Vocals’ Open competition brought them together as a group, but in doing so, the members of JANE found more than just an opportunity to compete; they found an exciting creative outlet and a sisterhood. They’re thrilled to have another opportunity to foster friendship through music.

Revival 
is a newly formed mixed a cappella group from San Antonio, Texas. Its members include alumni from some of the top high school a cappella groups in the Southwest region, as well as other talented musicians who are new to a cappella. They enjoy singing contemporary pop and musical improvisation, and have combined these two interests in arranging tonight’s set. They are excited for the opportunity to sing a cappella again, and to share the musical fruit of their hard work with the Northwest in the very first A Cappella Open. Like them on Facebook @revivalsatx and follow their Instagram @revival_satx.

SeaNote
, a five-member contemporary a cappella band from Seattle, was formed in 2013 from two University of Washington  a cappella groups (Furmata A Cappella and  Awaaz). The current group has been singing together since January 2014, and has earned a number of honors, including 1st place in the 2014 Pacific Northwest Harmony Sweepstakes, and has released two self-produced studio albums, Vocal Static (2014) and Transitions (2017). The quintet captures audiences with its fresh and unique original arrangements of Top 40 hits, incorporating each member’s musical niche, whether it be classical, pop, hip hop, EDM, or rock. SeaNote is Amanda Tran (alto, vocal percussion), Isaiah Lin (baritone/bass), Lucy Liu (soprano), Michael Kibbe (bass, vocal percussion), and Shaheer Aftab (vocal percussion, rapper).

Straighter Road 
was formed in the summer of 2012 in Seattle, with an original goal to become a large gospel choir. As vocalists came in and out (mostly out), the path became clear for the group to become a smaller ensemble. The seven left standing buckled down and went to work, learning contemporary gospel arrangements with track accompaniment. Straighter Road’s music director, Kevin, had prior experience in the artform of a cappella, and in 2014, they decided to go for it as a group, and hit the practice room. Since then, they’ve made themselves at home with sets of gospel/jazz a cappella arrangements, and are excited to share their journey at the A Cappella Open!

Back in 2013, Matt Biller, having already established a presence in the Portland a cappella scene, decided to launch a side recording project. He reached out to two of his longtime singer friends, Aisea Poulivaati and Daniel Jeppesen, and they shared a quick video on social media in January 2014. After some great feedback from friends and family, the three young men decided to continue meeting on a regular basis. Other musicians in their circle eventually gained interest, including Will Reese, Armond Frazier, and Mark Lee. The six began singing together on a weekly basis and performing at house parties. Fast forward to 2017, The Stumptown Fellas has grown to include 10 singers, and developed a smooth, yet powerful sound. They have performed at many venues and events in the Portland area, including The Roseland Theater. Strongly influenced by R&B, the group sings anything from Motown to hits from the 90s, and even some of that new-school “Uptown Funk.”

The Unknown Element 
is a five-member vocal band that branched out from The Hibernotes at Missouri State University. The group began in April of this year, and even though its members are spread out among New York, Missouri, and Alberta, they manage to rehearse regularly through online video rehearsals. This performance is only the second time that this group has met in person. The group’s name comes from its members’ desire to take risks and push boundaries in their lives and music. If you enjoy what you hear from this group and want to hear more, you can look them up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Based out of Dallas, Texas, VorTEX has quickly risen to success in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area. VorTEX is a diverse group of 14 powerhouse voices, with members of different ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. The singers of VorTEX are proud to pursue excellence at the highest level in all aspects of their lives, and continue to grow daily as people, friends, and performers.

Wings Vocal Collective 
is a group of passionate and versatile singers based in the Metro Vancouver Area. Its members come from different backgrounds, but share a drive to create unique and powerful musical experiences for audiences in their community. As a group, WVC provides a platform for a trained opera singer to share the stage with a Motown diva, and takes pride in its diverse and multi-disciplinary approach to music. WVC aims to integrate the arts into its community by presenting vocal music in its sincerest, most accessible form. For this competition, WVC is excited to tell a story of struggle, healing, and empowerment through its “Rise Medley,” an original arrangement featuring music by Hozier, Coldplay, and David Guetta ft. Sia. From the bottom of their hearts, the Wings would like to thank Varsity Vocals and every member of the audience for sharing this musical milestone with them. Check them out at www.wingsvocalcollective.com


GUEST PERFORMER


20/20 is a collection of current and former music students from Central Washington University. They credit music for originally bringing them together and creating the lifelong friendship they share. All members of this group played a key role in the success of their college a cappella group, Nada Cantata, and decided to work together to keep singing after graduation. Since its beginning in 2014, 20/20 has earned a 2nd place finish at the 2015 Harmony Sweepstakes, plus standout honors for Best Arrangement and Crowd Favorite, and released its first EP, Cover Art, in March 2016.

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Jordyn Meeker is an active performer and teacher in the Greater Seattle area. She holds a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in vocal performance from Washington State University, and is a certified teacher with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (active board member since 2015). She currently performs and arranges for Restless Vocal Band (PNW Harmony Sweepstakes Winners, voted #2 Best Local Band in Seattle), and performs about 30 shows per year with them for corporate events, private parties, high school education programs, and fundraisers. Jordyn is a part-time lecturer and music director for the University of Washington Musical Theatre Department, and teaches an average of 25 students per week at her studio, Edge Performing Arts and Dance in Seattle. Edge also provides education programs to local schools in musical theatre, pop, dance, and drama. She firmly believes that music education can save lives and present endless opportunities to thrive in artistic careers or hobbies. Past a cappella group affiliations include Open Bar (2013-2014) and WSU Vojazz (Lionel Hampton Festival winners 2009 and 2010).

Rachel Bearer is a singer, songwriter, vocal arranger, producer based out of Los Angeles. Operatically trained, she switched her focus to pop/rock in her final years at the University of Southern California and has never looked back. Her vocal group, ARORA, formerly known as SONOS, signed to Verve records and spent the next three years touring the U.S. and the U.K. Rachel has worked on eight Barbie films for Mattel, countless Lalaloopsy spots and commercials, Disney U.K. and Disney U.S., Buzzfeed, and Nickelodeon's new hit show, “School of Rock.” Rachel has had the opportunity to perform and collaborate with incredible artists such as Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles, The Pet Shop Boys, Kanye West, and Tom Odell.

The daughter of a choir teacher and accompanist, Cate Caffarella received a Bachelor of Music Education from Northern Arizona University and a Master of Music Education from Boston University. This is her 14th year at West Albany High School, where she directs three choirs and heads the drama program. WAHS choirs have won numerous awards, including top-five finishes at OSAA State Choir competitions, district championships, judges’ choice awards, and this year’s ICHSA Semifinal. Cate and her husband, Jason (also a musician), are former directors of the Oregon Children’s Choir Young Men’s Ensemble and The Classics. They and their children, Tobin, Taran, and Teah, enjoy singing and spending time together.

Chris Dobson holds a Bachelor of Music in music education from the University of Oregon. He grew up in Eugene, participating in school choirs, the Oregon Children’s Choir, and the Oregon Bach Festival Youth Choral Academy. At the University of Oregon, Chris sang with the University Singers, the Chamber Choir, and On the Rocks (the University of Oregon’s male a cappella group). In 2005, Chris received the Max D. Risinger Award for Excellence in Choral Music Education. An active local musician, Chris also conducts and sings with various choirs throughout the performance season. He has served as clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor for various Oregon choral festivals. Chris currently teaches choir at South Eugene High School and Spencer Butte Middle School, directs the Oregon Boychoir and Outburst Acappella, and sings with the nationally-recognized contemporary a cappella group, Rezonate. He is also an active composer and arranger, having won the Best Original Arrangement award at the Northwest Harmony Sweepstakes competition in March 2009.

Christopher Given Harrison is a Los Angeles-based producer of music and sound, and has served as whisper-bass and grand marshal of sound manipulation for ARORA (formerly "SONOS") since its inception. Recent and ongoing projects include full production on 4/5 tracks of the Avriel and the Sequoias EP, the upcoming ARORA EP, and a new secret duo project, for which he is very excited (details to materialize as completion approaches). He writes, arranges, records, mixes, edits, and renders a variety of projects, and is very approachable. Hit him up at christophonemusic@gmail.com.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Pete Yoakum and Yoakum Sound and Light, Jacob Yoakum, and Jake Young; 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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