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 SOUTHWEST SEMIFINAL

 

Palace Theatre
Saturday, July 29, 2017

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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

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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

 

A Choired Taste is an a cappella dream team based out of Walnut, Calif. Founders Gerrit Hoevers and Eddie Jackson met at Mt. San Antonio College as members of Fermata Nowhere. The duo quickly became great friends, and planned to continue their love for a cappella in their own group once their time in Fermata ended. Thus, A Choired Taste was born. After his time with Eddie in the vocal jazz ensemble Singcopation, and his time with Gerrit in the classical Chamber Singers, Marlon Santizo became the first amazing addition to the group. With Marlon's help, the newly formed trio looked to the renowned Mt. SAC Chamber Singers for other incredible musicians to make their group the best that it could be. When classical musicians team up with jazz musicians and form a contemporary a cappella group, who knows what could happen? They’re hoping something magical. 

From the heart of Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay area, vocal band Business Casual combines unexpected musical styles to produce stylish, a cappella versions of vintage chart toppers, top 40 hits, and award-winning original songs. Winners of the 2015 and 2017 San Francisco Regional Harmony Sweepstakes a cappella competition, Business Casual has taken home many awards, including Best Arrangement, Audience Favorite, and Best Original Song. The group has performed at conferences including Dreamforce and Wizard World Comic Con, along with community events such as the Mill Valley Arts Festival and San Jose Christmas in the Park. In addition to a regular schedule of private events, Business Casual has played live public gigs at Neck of the Woods and Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco and Omega Salvage in Berkeley. The group has conducted workshops with local schools and participated in collaborations with other Bay Area artists. Their first EP, Eyes on Me, was released in 2014. www.bcvocals.com

Clio is a fresh group of six seasoned performers based in Los Angeles, Calif.: Andy Degan (m-pact, Hyannis Sound), Bri Holland (Lady Jaye), Jarrett Johnson (m-pact, Urban Method), Meron Mogos (VXN, Premiere), Kim Nguyen (Top Shelf, Premiere), and Julia Ramos (Track IX).

Dynamic is a San Diego-based co-ed a cappella group made up of seven vibrant, outgoing personalities who love to showcase their R&B and pop style.

Named after a famous AC/DC song, Funderstruck was founded in 2014 when a small group of friends discovered their common passion for singing like divas in their cars, showers, and other random places. They still sing everywhere, but now as a joined force. Their original arrangements range from barbershop to top 40 songs to hits from the greatest legends of pop/rock. Fun, energy, and music are in their DNA, and as a group, they are addicted to being silly and singing together! Funderstruck is honored and thrilled to be competing in the #AcaOpen this year, their very first competition as a group. They sincerely hope your ears are well attached, because they will charge your sound space!

Legacy is an auditioned community youth a cappella group made up of singers, aged 13-18 from all over the greater Los Angeles area! Under the direction of Rob Dietz (“The Sing-Off,” “Glee”), the group promotes both a high standard of musicianship, and a strong sense of community. In 2017, the group made its debut performance at the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, winning 1st place and the special award for Outstanding Soloist. Legacy has shared the stage with incredible artists, including Avriel and the Sequoias, The Filharmonic, m-pact, and India Carney!

Mulholland Drive is a newly formed Hollywood-based vocal group, composed of various singers throughout the Los Angeles a cappella and theatre communities. Combining powerhouse vocals and a driving rhythm section, Mulholland Drive strives to take you on a wild ride with their innovative arrangements of contemporary songs.

Premiere is an award-winning all-female a cappella group in Los Angeles. With a diverse repertoire and range of voices, the group sings with attitude, dynamic leads, and messages of female empowerment. Premiere has had the honor of performing at famous venues like the House of Blues Sunset Strip, hosting the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival twice, signing with the AwesomenessTV Network, and collaborating with acclaimed groups from across the country. Each woman brings a unique musical background and balances her commitment to Premiere with her individual professional career. As a group, Premiere seeks to create powerful music and promote all-female a cappella.

The Gentleman Project is a soulful, all-male a cappella group hailing from Los Angeles. These talented young men bring vibrant new life to the R&B/soul genre, as they sing of love, heartbreak, and everything in between.


GUEST PERFORMER


The SoCal VoCals, founded in 1996, is composed of 18 members with varying majors from popular musical performance to environmental studies. The group’s signature achievement is winning the ICCA four times, most recently in 2015. Last year, The VoCals sang for the President and First Lady, toured Hong Kong and London, and released their newest album, VoCabulary. They have sung at the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center, and the Staples Center and, for such audiences as Chris Martin, and Sara Bareilles. VoCals alumni have been featured on NBC's "The Sing-Off" and won multiple Grammy Awards. Above all, The VoCals are about making music and having a good time, and are so excited for their upcoming year!

TONIGHT'S JUDGES

 

Laura Dickinson founded Groove 66 (now “Vybration”), at the Disneyland Resort with creator Deke Sharon, and is the only member to perform in all three female vocal tracks (plus appearances on the baritone and vocal percussion tracks). She is Vybration’s current music director and arranger, and has previously performed with Voasis (assistant music director) under Deke Sharon and Greg Jasperse and Voices Of Liberty in Epcot. She is especially proud to be the only female to perform in the male soprano track of her favorite group, m-pact. Laura is a singer and voice actress in Hollywood, best known for her extensive work on Disney animated hits, and numerous TV/film credits, including "Pitch Perfect" and "Pitch Perfect 2." Laura's debut album, One for My Baby – To Frank Sinatra With Love (2014) is available on iTunes and Amazon. www.lauradickinson.com Twitter/Instagram: @elsielaura less

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 33-year member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and sang with the Los Angeles Opera for 12 years. He has soundtrack credits for movies including “Home Alone,” “Jurassic Park,” “A.I.,” “Lady in the Water,” “Godzilla,”and more. He appeared as a singing pirate in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” in numerous television shows, and has performed at the Grammys, for the President of the United States, and the Queen of England. He founded and sings with the vocal jazz group, Pacific Swingline, the barbershop quartet, The Nickelodeon, and The Singers Elite Vocal Big Band. He is a published arranger and orchestrator, choral director for the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, music director at First United Methodist Church of Redondo Beach, and has prepared choruses for the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra. His singer referral service, Singers Elite, has entertained Southern California audiences for more than 30 years, and in 2002, he founded the annual “Choral Taste of Los Angeles,” a reading session of choral music by area composers.

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.

Los Angeles-based musician Jeff Smith is best known to a cappella fans for his role as beatboxer/vocalist for the award-winning vocal group, m-pact. Since joining the band in 2004, he has toured all over the world, performing in venues ranging from jazz clubs and festivals to concert halls and opera houses. Outside of m-pact, he is a full-time freelance musician, producer, clinician, and arranger. His voice (and vocal percussion) can be heard on numerous film/TV soundtracks, as well as in countless live performances throughout SoCal and across the U.S. Jeff serves in the U.S. Army Reserve as the commander and conductor of the 300th Army Band in Los Angeles, and he has been a featured vocalist and worship leader at numerous churches in southern California. He works as a performing arts coach for Burbank Public Schools, and is music director for West Valley Christian School. In his spare time, Jeff is also a solo recording artist and has several CARA-nominated all-vocal releases on iTunes and other digital music outlets. Jeff lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife, Heather, son, Noah, and new baby girl, Sophia.

Rebecca Kneubuhl 
is a composer, vocalist, and classically trained pianist with a degree in music composition from the University of Southern California. Her credits include several prime-time network television shows and AAA video game titles. Rebecca also co-owns Asylum Recording Studios, a commercial recording facility that has produced numerous award-winning albums and game scores. The studio has been especially recognized for its contribution to recording contemporary vocal music. She was a founding member of the groundbreaking a cappella group, Spiralmouth, and she regularly contributes vocals to games, television, and film.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Jeff Eames, our sound engineer, The Palace Theatre, especially Annette Zilinskas and Ed Baney, and our host group, The SoCal VoCals; 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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