THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OF

A CAPPELLA

OPEN

DEAR FRIENDS,

 

Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 23rd season! Our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever after almost a quarter century of presenting the best student groups on stage and in the studio.

Our tournaments have grown from a handful of events to the massive showcase they are today, featuring more than 650 groups and 9,800 singers at 87 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 Pitch Perfect franchise 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 enjoyed a long stay 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 two years ago. “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. Its third season will kick off this summer.

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 23 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2019 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

 

Tsai Performance Center
August 24, 2019

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 annually produce The Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and The 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 in New York City.

The high school tournament is now in its 14th year and continues to grow fast. We are now holding Quarterfinal rounds in all of our regions, and the 2019 season will feature the largest high school tournament field in our history. The winners of each of seven Semifinal rounds will advance to the ICHSA Finals at The Town Hall in New York City.

The Open Tournament took place for the second time ever in summer 2018 and featured six semifinals that lead to the Open Finals featuring those six Regional Champions, two Wild Card Champions, and our 2018 ICHSA and ICCA Champions. Those 10 groups competed at Carnegie Hall in New York City this past September.

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

OUR COMPETITORS

Based out of Boston, Mass., Blacklight strives to push the limits of the a cappella through the use of advanced beatboxing techniques, high energy, and hype dance music. 

Forest Fire is made up of Craig Simonetti (a.k.a. Plant) and Michael Wingate (a.k.a. Match). They both met through the a cappella realm and beatbox for their respective professional vocal bands. Craig is the beatboxer for Blacklight, based in Boston, and Michael is the beatboxer for ember, based in Baltimore. They broke into the beatbox battle scene during the 2017 American Beatbox Championships (ABCs) where they ranked 4th in the nation. Since then, they have both continued battling, with Craig earning 4th place at the 2018 East Coast Battle, Michael ranking 17th in the U.S. during the 2018 ABCs, and together becoming the first-ever East Coast Tag Team Champions in December 2018. Forest Fire is constantly developing their arsenal of sounds and creating unique compositions. 

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 their name for almost 15 years. More recently, Martini has had the opportunity to perform and compete throughout the region, including Singstrong N.Y., Harmony Sweepstakes, and the Varsity Vocals Aca-Open. 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. 

Formed in 2013, Sound Off is an award-winning a cappella group based in Boston, Mass. and a proud member of the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL). The group is formed of young men and women from different career fields, all brought together through an unabashed love for a cappella music and performance. Sound Off performs regularly around the Greater Boston area and continues to develop a diverse repertoire of modern pop with a soulful twist. 

Spider Horse is a vocal duo from New York City. Gene Shinozaki and Chris Celiz met while battling in the ABCs and consistently placing as top contenders for the title. Adapting a Bobby McFerrin style with EDM influences, Gene's approach to music-making has impacted a new generation of beatboxers and musicians alike. He attended Berklee College of Music to study drums, but found beatboxing as a true outlet for his creativity and self-expression and is now a thought leader and trailblazer in the beatbox community. Hailing from New York City, beatboxing provided a medium for Chris to express his truest emotions. Known for his soulful groves and endearing honesty onstage, Chris is the founder of the Beatbox House, which is a collective of world champion beatboxers based in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has a B.A in music education and is a full-time music teacher. Combining their styles of hip-hop and vocal virtuosity, Gene and Chris have won the 2015 and 2016 ABCs, the 2018 Grand Beatbox Battle (most prestigious beatbox competition in the world), and the 2018 Beatbox World Championships. The duo has toured countries such as Poland, Korea, Japan, Switzerland, China, and Germany (to name a few), and all over the continental U.S.A. Both members of the Beatbox House, they seek to rebrand the face of vocal music and show what's truly possible through collaboration, education, and excellence.

WitchPitch? is Salem High School’s co-ed a cappella group from Salem, Mass. and sings arrangements primarily by current members and alumni. The group was founded in 2009 and released their first album, Here, in 2012, which was featured on the 2014 BOHSA. They released their second album, an EP aptly titled NOW in 2015. The group is currently directed by Anna Morsillo, a founding member of the group, and is part of the choral program at Salem High School under Lianne Goodwin.

OUR JUDGES

 

Eric Chung is an award-winning veteran of collegiate and professional a cappella. He 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, placed as the runner-up in the Pacific Northwest Regional Harmony Sweepstakes, and earned multiple A Cappella Community Awards nominations. Previous 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 nominations in the annual A Cappella Community Awards for Best Solo A Cappella Performer. More recently, he received a nomination in the Best A Cappella Song category of 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 consisting entirely of original music. Eric’s arrangements and original compositions continue to be performed by many a cappella ensembles across the country, and he has enjoyed serving as a judge for annual a cappella competitions since 2005.  

Jon Dendy is a singer, vocal arranger, and group clinician who currently resides in Brookline, Mass. He received his B.A. from Boston’s very own Berklee College of Music. At Berklee, Jon was a member of the two-time ICCA Championship winner, Pitch Slapped. That same group was featured on Season 2 of NBC's "The Sing -Off." Jon has been privileged to work with musicians such as Bobby McFerrin, Committed, Bilal Oliver, Livingston Taylor, Patti Austin, Kathy Mattea, Tierney Sutton, and the late James Moody. Jon is currently recording and working on a new live electronic project, which he plans to release by the end of September 2019. Jon is thrilled to be here with all of these great judges representing Varsity Vocals, and wishes the best of luck to tonight's competitors! Follow him @donjendy

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 the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (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 

Selame Scarlett hails from Okemos, Mich. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, she served as music director, arranger, and vocal percussionist for Capital Green A Cappella. Currently, she is a clinician for high school and collegiate groups in the Great Lakes region. She served as a percussionist and vocalist for the CARA-winning, all-female sextet, Lady Jaye, and the all-female gospel powerhouse group, Traces, which was featured on Season 5 of NBC's “The Sing-Off.” In the summertime, Selame is an instructor and counselor at A Cappella Academy, a Los Angeles-based vocal camp for young adults (ages 13 to 17). Selame has been fortunate enough to record alongside groups such as Naturally 7, The Boxettes, Pentatonix, Duwende, and Traces of Blue (formerly Afro-Blue)! She has led percussion workshops and masterclasses, individually and with her beatboxing colleagues. Alongside a cappella, Selame has a fiery passion for healthcare. As the leading referral coordinator for one of the largest digestive clinics in the Central Michigan area, she facilitates continuation of care for patients with various GI, liver, and pancreatic diseases. She is excited to see and hear some great music tonight!

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank 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 Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Sara Yood
Senior Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Courtney Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Elise Hackl
 ICHSA Midwest, Southwest,  
& Great Lakes Producer

Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
 ICHSA South Producer

Nicole Kohlweiss
 ICHSA Northeast 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,  October 5th, 2019

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.