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 NORTHEAST
SEMIFINAL

 

Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
June 30, 2018

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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@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

Clear Harmonies was founded as a production and management company in 2010. Since then, the company has grown to include all aspects of a cappella and represent numerous ensembles. Today’s group comprises a selection of the company's  performers, showcasing a true collaboration of six D.C.-area groups. In addition to set groups, the performers often collaborate in different lineups to provide specialized entertainment for events.

Founded in 2015, Concrete is an award-winning contemporary a cappella group based in New York City. Using three-part harmonies and a low, rich sound, this six-person group remixes everything from doo-wop to Top 40 hits, and aims to bring a fresh sound to everything they sing. Concrete is fortunate to have brought people together through song, whether helping with a marriage proposal at Jane’s Carousel or performing the “World News Polka” for ABC’s "World News Now."

Ember is a professional seven-piece vocal band centered in Baltimore, Md. They aim to curate impressive and progressive musical content, serve as an incubator and quality outlet for Baltimore's most motivated and talented musicians, fill a gap in Baltimore's current market, and evolve the role of vocal music in the city's vibrant arts scene. 

Euphonic is a new and emerging semi-professional acappella group based in Potomac, Md., with members ranging from 16 to 23 years old. As a high-energy, beatbox-heavy, and self-arranging group, Euphonic hopes to share their covers of pop music with the a cappella community. Denise Nalibotsky (president/soprano), was inspired to create Euphonic while watching her peers at Camp A Cappella form semi-professional groups, such as Vocalight. Although she is the president and music director of her collegiate group, Rather Be Giraffes, she realized that she couldn’t bear a summer off and jumped at the AcaOpen's opportunity to piece together the perfect group. This includes Brian Lim (treasurer, tenor, Towson Trills alum), Aaron Bayne (VP, Towson Trills president, 2017 ICCA Semifinal Outstanding Vocal Percussionist), Samantha Pineda (music director, alto, 2017 ICCA Quarterfinal Outstanding Soloist for The Songburghs), Adam Newburger (baritone, member of The One Note Stand), Derek Justice (choreographer, bass, Original Blend alum), and Ally Nalibotsky (publicity, mezzo, member of The Wootton Acabellas).

Established in the fall of 2017, In Full Colour (with a Canadian "u!") is a co-ed a cappella group from the University of Waterloo that draws inspiration from the stage. The group is passionate about combining music and choreography into meaningful storytelling. In Full Colour recently placed 2nd at ICCA Central Semifinals after winning their Quarterfinal, and they're extremely excited to share their very first story with you.

‘Round Midnight is a quartet of music educators that have been thrilling audiences for over a decade. They sing primarily in the barbershop style and demonstrate how close harmony can be applied to different musical genres such as R&B, pop, jazz, and rock. Dubbed "The Barbershop Gateway Drug" by contemporary a cappella guru Deke Sharon, ‘Round Midnight was voted Favorite Barbershop Quartet by the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA), and they were selected as an opening act for the popular Vocalosity tour. The foursome won the New York City Harmony Sweepstakes Championship and was given the coveted Audience Favorite award by an overwhelming crowd vote. In addition, the quartet was appointed an official "Arts Envoy" group by the U.S. State Department and they have conducted masterclasses on barbershop harmony for students of all ages, from kindergarten through university (and beyond), in North America and Europe.

Satellite Lane is a Long Island-based a cappella group that currently belongs to the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL). Made up almost entirely of music teachers, Satellite Lane specializes in spreading a cappella education to music programs and designing theatrical a cappella sets. The group has won the Audience Favorite award at Harmony Sweepstakes three times, as well as awards for Best Choreography, Best Arrangement, Best Original Song, and more. They can be found at satellitelane.com, but if you find them too quickly, that means you didn't count to 100 and you cheated.

Stiletta is an all-female a cappella sextet from N.Y.C., 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 “sweep the Sweeps” by winning 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 1st place and Audience Favorite at the 2015 Mid-Atlantic and 2016 New York Harmony Sweepstakes competitions, plus Best Vocal Percussion and Best Arrangement. In 2017, Stiletta placed 2nd and won Best Vocal Percussion in the closest regional Semifinal of Varsity Vocals’ inaugural AcaOpen. Stiletta is a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s highly selective Music Under New York (MUNY) program, which aims to bring music and art to the commuting public of N.Y.C. Stiletta features award-winning beatboxer, MC Beats, who was ranked 3rd Best Female at the 2012 World Beatbox Championship in Germany. Other group members boast multiple Off-Broadway and voice-over credits, WAMMY Awards and Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs), original cast recordings, 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 Unknown Element is a five-member vocal band that branched from The Hibernotes of Missouri State University. The group began in April 2017, and although they are spread out in different countries, with members based in New York and Calgary, Alberta, they rehearse regularly through online video rehearsals. This performance is only the fourth time that this group has met in person. The group's name comes from their desire to take risks and push boundaries in their lives and music. If you enjoy what you hear and want more, look them up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

OUR JUDGES

 

Candice Helfand-Rogers has been active in the a cappella community for decades. At Rutgers University, she sang with and music directed Deep Treble, then went on to help found (and music direct) ShockWave. After graduating in 2005, she teamed up with several collegiate a cappella alumni in New York City to form Restated (formerly known as The Red States), and served as musical director for its first three years of existence. She has garnered multiple awards for her contributions to these groups, both onstage and in the studio. Candice's voice can also be heard in Universal Studios' hit a cappella movies, "Pitch Perfect" and "Pitch Perfect 2." She performs to this day with numerous New York ensembles, including Restated, Broadway Inspirational Voices, and Ghostlight. By day, she is a writer at a nonprofit called The Story Exchange and serves as a content producer for the Women's A Cappella Association (WACA). She has previously written for CASA and A Cappella Records.

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, Kari 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 U.S. Kari graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from UC San Diego and holds an M.A. in music education from the Eastman School. Find her online at acappellaprofessor.com less

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.

Warren Bloom has been a regular ICCA and ICHSA judge since 2002 (including both 2006 Finals). He’s been musical director, bass, and/or vocal percussionist for numerous vocal groups, including professional summer group, The Hyannis Sound, New York rock/R&B septet, Invisible Men (various New York City and Boston Harmony Sweepstakes awards), New York pop/jazz quintet, Doo*Wa*Zoo (1998 MAC and 2000 CARA nominees), University of Miami’s Jazz Vocal 2 (1997 DownBeat Award winner), and Brandeis University’s Spur of the Moment. Warren was music director, co-arranger, and sound tech for Minimum Wage's "Blue Code Ringo" at the New York Fringe Festival (Best Musical Comedy Act, 2002 Time Out New York awards) and subsequent Off-Broadway productions. He has also run live sound for numerous vocal groups including Naturally 7, Ball in the House, Six13, and Unsung Heroes. He was a composer/lyricist in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, before getting his music education degree from Hunter College and spending three years as band and orchestra director at Talent Unlimited High School. He has been teaching general music and band at P.S. 8 (Brooklyn) since 2011, and has been a musical director in the theatre department at the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts since 1998. Warren was one of CASA’s official bloggers for NBC’s "The Sing-Off.”

Jennifer Carnevale is the Chair of the Department of Performing Arts at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., where she holds the Louise Harkness Lawrence Faculty Chair in Music. At Masters, Jennifer directs two of the school’s three academic choirs, including the award-winning contemporary a cappella ensemble, Dobbs 16. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Arts in Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Jennifer has been a presenter at the International Society for Music Education in Glasgow, Scotland on Improvisation in the Contemporary Choral Rehearsal. She ran a private voice studio for 15 years and has been on the faculty at The Masters School for 16 years. In addition to choral music, Jennifer teaches Music and Social Justice and Psychology of Music, and directs the  over 100-member, over 100-year old Glee Club, which includes students, faculty, parents, and alumni.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank The Magnet Musical Tour Co., Chris Juengel and Liquid, 5th, Alexandra De Rosa, Michelle Gala, and 
Mark Lorenzen; 
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.