The New All-Access A Cappella Tournament


We at Varsity Vocals are thrilled to announce the first season of the International Championship of A Cappella Open!

The Open” (#acaopen) is an all-access a cappella tournament, meaning for the first time, we’re throwing out our eligibility rules. We want to bring together singers and singing groups of all ages and stages of life – regardless of experience, origin, student status, or school affiliation – to compete on an international stage.

Did we just blow your mind?

In this new tournament, you can compete with your own a cappella dream team. Round up your old group for another shot at the championship… pull together the all-stars from your past… call up all the best singers, dancers, and beatboxers from your neighborhood, office, book club… heck, even recruit at your next family reunion!

Think big, because if your group makes it to the first International Championship of A Cappella Open Finals in September 2017, you will be competing for the title of best competitive a cappella group in the world, and an insane cash prize of $25,000, no strings attached (a cappella pun intended!).

Speaking of Finals – what’s the one venue every artist dreams to perform in, one of the most prestigious music venues in the entire world? The 2017 Open Finals will take place in CARNEGIE HALL in New York City on SATURDAY NIGHT, September 23, 2017. Yeah, we almost can’t believe it, either!

Bonus for our high school and college competitors: The reigning 2017 ICCA and ICHSA Champions will be invited to advance directly to The Open Finals!

For 21 years, Varsity Vocals has promoted competitive college a cappella through the ICCA tournament, long before our starring role in Pitch Perfect and Sing It On introduced a cappella to the mainstream. The ICCA in turn helped propel the growth of the ICHSA and high school a cappella. The Open is now 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 to perform on.

One of our core beliefs at Varsity Vocals is that competition drives growth. We are confident that, given a reason to exist and an incentive to work hard – like the opportunity to perform in a world-class venue with the world’s best groups, let alone a ginormous cash prize – some really special new groups will emerge, and the groups already out there will get even better.

After all, there would be no Pentatonix if it weren’t for The Sing-Off.

We know, you’ve got a lot of questions. Like:

What’s an a cappella dream team?
Just what it sounds like: a group formed of everyone you ever dreamed of singing a cappella with, regardless of their student status or location. Grab that amazing high school soloist you heard at ICHSA Finals last year, and a few singers from your current college group, and some alumni from that amazing group you sang with at ICCA semifinals. Does your grandma have mad beatboxing skills? Anything goes.

What about current “semi-pro” groups? Or high school groups? Or international groups?
Yes and yes! The Open is just that: truly open to all a cappella groups of any age, location, origin, or experience level.

Can my group participate if we are competing in ICCA or ICHSA?
Yes, absolutely!

Are there any eligibility requirements?
Just one: Groups may be composed of up to 18 people (no more).

How and when can we apply?
Applications with audition videos are due March 31, 2017. More details, along with the application, will go up on our site soon, and we’ll announce it on social media too. Follow us @varsityvocals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

The prize is $25,000, no strings attached – seriously?
Seriously. We hope you’ll use the prize money to launch your professional career as an a cappella group. Get in the studio, go on tour – do what works best for you, but make us proud!

What’s the competition structure?
In this first season, we’re looking for just eight groups to advance to The Open Finals, where they’ll face off against the 2017 ICCA and ICHSA Champions. We do anticipate holding qualifying rounds (potentially based on region) in certain cases, and admitting groups directly to Finals in other cases. We will make this determination once we’ve had a chance to review all applications, so be patient with us; we will play it by ear at the beginning. Just like the ICCA and ICHSA, The Open will grow and adapt each year according to interest and participation.

When is the competition?
This first season, The Open Finals are Saturday, September 23, 2017, at the historic Carnegie Hall in New York City. As necessary, we will add semifinal and quarterfinal rounds over the summer. Competing in The Open won’t get in the way of participating in your student group – but it is an amazing reason to keep singing in the off-season and after you graduate.

When will you announce The Open Finalists?
By May 1, we’ll announce either the names of eight finalist groups (determined based on audition videos), OR we’ll post locations and dates of qualifying rounds where some groups will need to compete before earning their finalist spot. (Again, it depends on how many applications we receive.)

And again, the 2017 ICCA and ICHSA Champions will advance directly to The Open Finals.

Why do ICCA and ICHSA champions get automatic entry?
We’ve been saying for years that the ICCA and ICHSA champions could hold their own against any pro group. Let’s put them to the test! Plus, we’d love to give those once-in-a-lifetime, staggeringly amazing student groups a reason to keep singing together even after their amazing school year ends. (Straight No Chaser, anyone?)

How can I get tickets to The Open Finals at Carnegie Hall? Your best bet is to get on our mailing list. We’ll send you an email when we’re getting ready to release them for sale. We’ll also make announcements on social media, so follow us @varsityvocals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, too.

How am I going to sleep tonight?
We know, we know. We’ve somehow kept this a secret for a couple of years as we developed the concept. It’s going to be an incredible time! We really cannot wait to see what unfolds in the coming months and on stage at Carnegie Hall.

So what are you waiting for? You’ve got four months to apply. Go get your group together and start warming up!