THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF

A CAPPELLA

OPEN

DEAR FRIENDS,

 

Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 22nd 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 they are today, featuring more than 600 groups and 8,500 singers at 85 events across North America and the United Kingdom.

Our original tournament inspired the hit movie "Pitch Perfect," based on the nonfiction book documenting the true story of rival groups competing against each other in our very own ICCA. The franchise released its third film this past December and remains the highest-grossing musical series of all time.

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 were thrilled to launch the International Championship of A Cappella Open last summer. “The Open” (#AcaOpen) is an all-access a cappella tournament that brings together singers of all ages, regardless of student status, to compete on an international stage for a chance at $25,000. In its very first season, The Open featured 70 groups from around the world and culminated in a sold-out Finals at New York City's Carnegie Hall -- and we expect even bigger things this summer, as our second season kicks off.

We hope that over the years, 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, right? 

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 22 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2018 season takes us. 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 College of Music 
July 21, 2018

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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 (The Open). 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 takes place from January through April in nine regions across the country and around the world. Each region holds anywhere from three 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.

The high school tournament is now in its 13th year 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 will advance to the ICHSA Finals at The Town Hall in New York City.

The Open tournament took place for the first time in summer 2017 and featured 70 groups competing in six U.S. Semifinals, an international Semifinal, and a Wild Card round. The winners of those events advanced to The Open Finals at Carnegie Hall, where they competed against our reigning ICCA and ICHSA Champions for $25,000. The second season of The Open will take place starting this summer and will culminate at Carnegie Hall on September 22.

For a full tournament schedule, visit us at www.varsityvocals.com.

OUR COMPETITORS

This is 908 A cappella! This group is based out of Houston, Texas, and is composed of old and current members from One Note Stand (University of Texas), HardChord DynaMix (Texas A&M University), and The UNT Green Tones (University of North Texas). They are so excited to have the opportunity to get back onstage and do what they love.

Formed in 2017, Blacklight is composed of six energetic, multi-talented musicians/a cappella enthusiasts. The group's style combines the versatile and expressive capabilities of the human voice with the stylings of producers in the dance music scene. They aim to push the boundaries of traditional all-vocal music, capitalizing on extended techniques, tight harmonies, and high energy to keep the party going. Blacklight wants you up on your feet - yes, you! You're encouraged to dance and sing, scream and shout, jam and vibe. Let loose and release yourself to the sound!

New York-based Echo A Cappella pulls together singers from different walks of life. Their ranks include teachers, a wedding planner, marketing managers, a photographer, burlesque performers, and even an aspiring lawyer. Although they have their day jobs, they were brought together to form Echo by a love of music. They perform around the New York metropolitan area and on YouTube, slaying a cappella covers of yesterday's 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.

Iris is thrilled to be performing at The Open Semifinals this year! Iris is a newly formed vocal trio based in New York City. The group members are working musicians and actors who have previously competed in The Open and the ICCA. Iris aims to re-imagine classic hits from the 60s through the 80s. This is the group’s first time performing and they are excited to be making their debut at The Open!

Martini Glass A Cappella is a semi-professional group composed of 10 ladies from the greater Danbury, Conn. area. Formed in 2004 with students from Danbury High School, Martini has been confusing people with its name for 14 years. Many of the group members are current students or alumni from Western Connecticut State University. With a wide range of styles in their repertoire, from jazz and pop to Broadway and gospel, there is sure to be something for everyone when they perform.

Reverb is a New York City-based a cappella group founded in 2017. Starting with six female voices coming together, Reverb has built a foundation for strong a cappella performance through a variety of genres, focusing mainly on pop, rock, alternative, and whatever else speaks to them. Reverb is currently an co-ed group consisting of nine singers from around the New York area.

TONEWALL is the all-volunteer a cappella band of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, and they "live for the applause of a worthy cause!” Their repertoire includes uplifting anthems, classic tunes, and sexy hits from today’s artists, all rooted in a fundamental commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice. TNWL went live in February of 2016 and they’ve been busy ever since with appearances at the N.Y.C. City Council, Madison Square Garden, Pride Fest, Yankee and Mets Stadiums, and even Off-Broadway. They entertain with a message and love it when their fans ("Toners") get in on the action. Sing, scream, laugh, and cry with them! Bust loose and live your truth! xoxo #trueyou #gayacappella

OUR JUDGES

 

Brian Chambers has founded or helped found three award-winning collegiate groups, including, at the time, the youngest finalist in ICCA history. He has earned three ICCA awards for Outstanding Vocal Percussion, and the first Outstanding Arrangement award for a hip hop song in ICCA history. He created and founded The Red States, named a best a cappella group by “Time Out New York.” He helped launch the first digital A&R agency for A-list and Billboard 100 artists. Brian is the former director of communications and marketing for the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA) and served on its board of directors. If you don't blink, you can catch him in “Pitch Perfect 2.” 

Eric Chung is an award-winning veteran of collegiate and professional a cappella who has been singing, arranging, and writing since 2013 with Similar Jones, a seven-member Boston-based a cappella band that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. From 2008 to 2013, Eric was the primary director, arranger, and songwriter for the Portland-based pop/rock vocal band, Strangers in Harmony. Under his leadership, the Strangers won the 2011 “Portland’s Got Talent” competition, were the runner-up in the Pacific Northwest Regional Harmony Sweepstakes, and were recognized with multiple A Cappella Community Awards (ACA) nominations. Prior a cappella projects include Boston-based Downtown Crossing (now called Immutable), award-winning New York pop/jazz group Stay Tuned, and The Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones. Eric has earned national recognition for his solo a cappella work, winning the nationwide 2008 A Cappella Originals songwriting contest and receiving multiple ACA nominations for Best Solo A Cappella Performer. More recently, he received a nomination for Best A Cappella Song in the 2016 Independent Music Awards. His 2011 EP, It Was You All Along, was one of the first solo a cappella albums to be released with entirely original music. Eric’s arrangements and original compositions continue to be performed by ensembles across the country, and he has enjoyed serving as a judge for annual a cappella competitions since 2005.

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 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (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. 

Amy Malkoff is the Media Director of the Women's A Cappella Association (WACA), Marketing Director for the A Cappella Education Association, and one of the producers of Haunted Harmonies in Salem, Mass. Amy served on the board and as web content director for CASA and is a longtime ICHSA/ICCA judge, as well as a certified judge for other events. She is a frequent workshop teacher, master clinician, writer, designer, runner of social media campaigns (www.amymalkoff.com), and a singer/songwriter and studio musician (www.amymalkoffmusic.com). She was a founding member of 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’s-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

Amanda Roeder is a high school choral and a cappella director in Chelmsford, Mass., where she directs The Thursdays and The Crescendos. She has previously led an award-winning a cappella program in Marblehead, Mass. In 16 years of teaching, her groups have earned multiple CARAs, ICHSA titles, and spots on BOHSA compilations. Amanda is a co-founder and board member of the N.E. Voices high school a cappella festival. She performs as a freelance vocalist, flutist, and pianist, and teaches private lessons and masterclasses in the greater Boston area. 

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Sara Yood, Matt Girard, The Berklee Performance Center Staff, Cathy Horn, Callie Sokoloski, Emily Benjamin, Yassee Mohebbi, and Anthony Pulido; 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

Andrea Poole
 ICHSA Director

Lucy Jacobs
The Open Director
 ICCA West Producer

Andrew Poole
 Director of Digital Media

Erica Tackett
 Director of Marketing & Social Strategy

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Emily Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Sara Yood
 ICCA & ICHSA Finals Producer
 ICHSA Northeast Producer

Courtney Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West Producer

Henry Harrod
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Elise Hackl
 ICHSA Midwest Producer

Riley McMahon
 ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
 ICHSA South & Southwest Producer

Mark Chen
ICHSA Southwest Co-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 22, 2018

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

varsityvocals

ABOUT TONIGHT'S SHOW

 

The performance order was determined by random draw this afternoon 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.

Beane is a Boston-based act whose main focus is energy and feeling. Their #1 goal as a performer is to have people leave feeling better then they came. Their music exists somewhere in between the R&B, pop, and singer-songwriter genres. Check out Beane's debut EP, Human Beane, on all streaming platforms, and follow @beanemusic for updates! 

GUEST PERFORMER