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 NORTHEAST SEMIFINAL

 

Kaye Playhouse
July 20, 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

Hailing from Long Island, N.Y., Black to Gold is a new a cappella sextet composed of four strong female singers, a bass, and a vocal percussionist, all of whom are also music producers, film composers, music educators, singer-songwriters, and performers. The concept of Black to Gold was born out of the Hofstra a cappella scene and the group strives to fuse all of their unique talents and diverse backgrounds personally and musically into a powerful soundscape. Be sure to follow them @blacktogoldmusic. 

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, a shared love of music brought them together to form Echo. They perform around the New York metropolitan area and on YouTube, slaying a cappella covers of yesterday 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). 

Embassy is an a cappella group based out of College Park, Md. With singers from the different UMD a cappella groups and others from the surrounding area, Embassy is proud to include diverse musical backgrounds within its membership, from casual singers to ICCA Finalists. Although the group is new to competition, these singers hope to use their collective sound to captivate audiences and encourage them to join in celebrating their various musical journeys. 

LEGEND are a 7 piece a cappella group based in the Philly area that focuses on singing R&B influenced a cappella music. The group consists of a collection of young musicians wanting to combine their individual music and a cappella experiences to take a shot at the A Cappella Open!

Tacoppella is the culmination of a genuine love for music. While first bound together through musical theatre on Long Island, N.Y., the ten-strong team has an eclectic background. With a range of a cappella experience from seven months to seven years, the members of the group constantly work to improve their sound, while encouraging members to learn new skills such as arranging, vocal percussion, and choreography. Tacoppella is excited to participate in the Open and hopes to display their group’s incredible talent and also to further explore the a cappella arts with other competitors. 

TONEWALL is the super-charismatic queer a cappella band of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. They “live for the applause of a worthy cause," donating their time to entertain audiences with uplifting anthems, classic tunes, and sexy hits from today’s artists while supporting diversity, LGBTQ+ inclusion, and social equality. TNWL went live in February of 2016 and have kept busy since with appearances in stadiums, theaters, and venues all around their New York City home. They love it when fans (their “Toners”) get in on the action. Bust out and live your truth! xoxo #queeracappella 

Vice A Cappella is a brand-new five-person all-female a cappella group! These women have been singing a cappella for years and are no strangers to Varsity Vocals. All five group members have previously competed in ICHSA or ICCA and are excited to be back for the 2019 Open. Vice is committed to challenging norms and pushing the boundaries of a cappella, but most importantly, showing what five fierce, creative, and ambitious women can do.

OUR JUDGES

 

Alex Green is a recording engineer, producer, and arranger from New York City. He is a graduate of Tufts University with a dual degree in music and archaeology, where he sang with and directed the Tufts Amalgamates and with whom he recorded 2011′s Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA)-winning Hands Off The Mannequin. He is a co-owner and producer at Plaid Productions, a full-service a cappella production company with dual home bases in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Somerville, Mass. Alex shares two RIAA-certified Platinum and Billboard-charting albums with Ed Boyer and Ben Bram for his work with Pentatonix, while other clients of Plaid Productions have had songs featured on SING, BOCA, Voices Only, and have garnered over 100 CARA nominations. Since graduating in 2010, he has regularly served as a masterclass leader and instructor at a cappella festivals nationwide, sung with Overboard (Boston, Mass.), and written for the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB).

Candice Helfand-Rogers has been active in the a cappella community for decades. At Rutgers University, she sang with and musically directed Deep Treble, then went on to help found and direct ShockWave. After graduating, she teamed up with several college a cappella alumni to found Restated (formerly known as The Red States) and served as its musical director for several years. She has garnered multiple awards for her onstage, in-studio and arranging contributions to these groups. Candice's voice can also be heard in Universal Studios' hit a cappella movies, "Pitch Perfect" and "Pitch Perfect 2." She still performs with numerous New York-based ensembles, including Restated, Broadway Inspirational Voices and Ghostlight, and works part-time as a chorister. By day, she's a journalist and (an extremely proud) mom. 

Judy Minkoff is the founder and director of the New York City-based all-female a cappella group, Stiletta, which was the 2016 National Harmony Sweepstakes Champion and only group to ever win in every single award category. Stiletta’s debut album, which she recorded and produced, was released in 2018 to critical acclaim and was named Album of the Year by RARB. Judy is a two-time Best Arrangement award recipient at the Sweeps for her arrangement of “Royals” by Lorde, and three of her arrangements on Stiletta’s album were named RARB's Track of the Year in 2018. Her original song, “Get Pumped,” co-written with the other members of Stiletta, was CARA-nominated for Best Original Song by a Professional Group, and she has shared CARA and Washington Area Music Award (WAMMY) nominations and awards for her original song, “Christmas Valentine,” co-written with Jonathan Minkoff (of Blue Jupiter and SingStrong) and featured on Cartoon Johnny’s “The More The Merrier.” Judy has performed with, directed, and arranged for all-female groups for more than 20 years, and she is currently the director and arranger for the SingStrong Single Singers. Judy is a native of Rockville, Md. and holds a Ph.D. in Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis from Emory University. 

Catherine Ricafort is a triple-threat Broadway performer, and was last seen on Broadway as villainess Karen The Computer in "SpongeBob Squarepants." She  also originated the featured role of Mahi in Jason Robert Brown's "Honeymoon in Vegas" on Broadway. Other Broadway credits include "Mamma Mia!," "Cinderella," "Allegiance," "Disaster!," "Holiday Inn," and "Miss Saigon." Catherine recently made her Off-Broadway debut in the world premiere of Duncan Sheik’s "Alice By Heart" at MCC Theater. As a lead vocalist, she has performed on NBC's "The Sing-Off" (featured soloist of The Backbeats, Season 2), can be heard on a cappella albums with The SoCal VoCals, and has performed for troops across the country with The USO Show Troupe. As a director and choreographer, her latest project is “Choose," the debut music video for Queens-based rapper, Super Smack. Catherine graduated cum laude with a B.S. in industrial and systems engineering from The University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering. She continues to pursue her interests in engineering while performing. For more information, visit www.catherinericafort.com.

Originally trained as a classical violinist, Stirling Rutty has a B.A. in music composition and theory from Colorado College, where he music-directed and arranged for 46 A Cappella. He also attended Berklee School of Music for two years, where he arranged and served as a bass/vocal percussionist for the 2014 ICCA Champion, Pitch Slapped. While attending both schools, Stirling composed and played bass, guitar, and keys in a number of rock, punk, and jazz bands, and rapped in Berklee's J Dilla ensemble. He currently lives in Brooklyn where he acts, sings, teaches, arranges, composes, and plays bass for the punk outfit, Whiz!Bang!Science! 

SPECIAL THANKS

 

Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Clarus Sound (Caleb Whelden and Schuyler Whelden), Craig Chu, Charley Mills, and the staff of the Kaye Playhouse; 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.