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 VIRTUAL SEMIFINAL 

WE'RE SOCIAL

 

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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 (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

Hailing from the Twin Cities area, Due North is one of the Midwest’s newest a cappella ensembles. The group was founded in April 2017 and busily works to represent the great state they all call home. The group name was inspired by Minnesota’s formally adopted French motto, "L'Etoile du Nord," meaning “Star of the North.” Likewise, each group member's eclectic musical journey thus far always swings back to their love for a cappella, as if  guided by the gravitational pull of a compass. Due North hopes to leave its footprint on the a cappella genre, while bringing a family-fun atmosphere to each and every performance. The group performs all over the Midwest, including appearances at the Twin Cities Marathon, Mall of America, Minnesota State Fair, and more. In March 2018, the group was crowned the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes Regional Champion and voted Audience Favorite. From the inter-webs to the city streets to the stage, Due North brings a refreshing taste to the music you know and love, while adding new songs to file away on your personal playlist. With a fresh outlook, immense passion, and a vibrant energy, there is only one direction to go: Due North.

Forecast is an all-male a cappella quartet that has been singing together since 2014. Mike, Tyler, Travis, and Kevin enjoy singing, competing, and entertaining audiences together, even though they live over 600 miles apart in North Carolina, Virginia, and New York! They have a unique "feel-good" repertoire of songs that spans from traditional American vocal standards in the barbershop style all the way to four-part harmony versions of contemporary hits by Michael Bublé, Big Bad VooDoo Daddy, and The Jive Aces! The quartet has achieved competitive success, including the title of of 2016 Southern Division Champions of the Mid-Atlantic District and 2017 Quarterfinalists in the International Competition of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

Lyra was formed in November 2016 and comes from Dayton, Ohio. Every member was initially part of the same high school a cappella group, collectively representing six generations of that group. Last year, they competed in the Open and received 3rd place at the Midwest Semifinal. They are named after the constellation "Lyra," which depicts the mythological lyre of Orpheus, a man whose music charmed the world. Together these shining stars hope to brighten the stage through their shared love of music.

Proudly repping the diverse, dynamic a cappella scene that is the South, R E M I X is a spectrum of voices composed of singers from all over Florida. Founded on the desire to create powerful music and share their combined experiences, they have collaborated to put together a performance where the music comes alive and you feel just why these singers have been brought together.

RISE is the premier, co-ed a cappella group at University of Texas at Arlington. Known for their energetic performances, RISE has quickly become successful within their community of Arlington, Texas. Pursuing high degrees of excellence in all aspects of life, these students continue to grow as people, friends, and performers.

Spectrum Vocals was formed in the summer of 2016 in Raleigh, N.C. The group is currently composed of 10 members spanning all occupations and walks of life, joined together by a shared love of a cappella. Spectrum currently performs contemporary music in an exciting, voices-only setting.

OUR JUDGES

 

Gyasi Barber, a New Jersey native, completed his Master of Music in vocal performance at the New England Conservatory. There, Gyasi played Figaro in "Le Nozze di Figaro," Don Pedro De Hinoyosa in Offenbach's "La Perichole," and Ben Benny in "Paul Bunyan." Prior to that, he earned his undergraduate degree in music education from Syracuse University, and played such roles as Pish Tush in "The Mikado," Frank in Strauss' "Die Fledermaus," and Sarastro in "Die Zauberflote." Gyasi has performed as a featured soloist with the Masterworks Chorale in Boston, as the bass soloist for their annual Messiah Sing, and played Collatinus in Opera Brittenica’s production of Britten's "Rape of Lucretia.” Currently based in New York City, Gyasi performs with the Oratorio Society of New York, in addition to other small groups.

Christopher M. Diaz co-founded the international touring group, The Exchange, which performed hundreds of shows for audiences in over 25 countries on six continents, notably opening for The Backstreet Boys in their 32-city “In A World Like This” stadium tour. He graduated from Florida State University School of Music with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. There, he led the co-ed All-Night Yahtzee to three consecutive ICCA Finals appearances and was a two-time winner of the Outstanding Soloist award. Christopher’s voice and arrangements have appeared on compilations such as Voices Only, BOCA, SING, and Voices Only Forte, and have been nominated for numerous Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs). As a coach, Christopher has adjudicated, sung, and instructed at vocal festivals around the country and world, and he has served on the vocal coaching and arranging staff of “The Sing-Off.”

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

Bri Holland is a recording and mixing engineer, producer, arranger, composer, and singer/songwriter based in Los Angeles, Calif. Bri studied music at the University of Chicago and her arrangements, vocals, original songs, and recordings have garnered various nominations and awards. Bri currently produces albums for musicians across the country, performs as a live-looping artist, writes and sings vocal charts, and teaches vocal students.

Kimberly Raschka Sailor is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB), and she has written more than 300 reviews of high school, collegiate, and professional groups since 2005. A former ICCA Finalist, Kimberly is the co-founder and past president of the University of Southern California's Reverse Osmosis. Kimberly has also served as a CARA nominator and judge. In addition to volunteering in the a cappella community, Kimberly is an author and elected school board member for the Mount Horeb Area School District in Wisconsin.

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank our judges, hosts, competitors, volunteers, partners, producers, and you, the fans, 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 THIS SEMIFINAL

 

The Virtual Semifinal is for groups who lived too far to compete in our scheduled in-person semifinals this summer.

The order in which the groups will be evaluated was determined by random draw.        

The groups 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.

The results will be posted on the Varsity Vocals website on July 26, 2018 at 5pm.

Thanks!