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Varsity Choruses

A new showcase experience for a cappella choruses

For ages 25 and under

Men’s, women's, and all-voice Varsity choruses now have a unique new event to experience the very best in vocal harmony: the Next Generation Barbershop Varsity Chorus Invitational.

CHORUS - youth Hurricane

About the Varsity Chorus Invitational

As part of the International Convention of the Barbershop Harmony Society, young choruses with members aged 25 and under will perform in front of enthusiastic crowds, and experience a full-immersion barbershop event. Beyond the fun, you’ll learn about elite-level harmony, tuning, showmanship, and some uniquely American musical literature.

**The application process for the 2023 Varsity Chorus Contest in Louisville, KY has closed. Visit soon for 2024 opportunities!**

Program Overview

Open to male, female, and all-voice choruses – both established and new

Now you can design a barbershop group around your interests, talents, and friends.

Like the Junior Chorus Festival for high school-aged singers, we’re offering more ways for adult singers to experience barbershop harmony for the first time. Experiment with your current group, or start something new, whether at school or among a group of friends.

Strut your stuff as a chorus, plus sing in a massive Honors Chorus

The week’s activities feature the Festival, where you’ll be adjudicated for rating and recognition, performed for an enthusiastic crowd of harmony fanatics.

But that’s only part of the fun: all Varsity Chorus singers will take part in an Honors Chorus that will perform two songs in various venues throughout the week. World-class coaches will work with the group to bring it to peak performance -- an unforgettable growth opportunity.

The Basics

  • All singers must be age 25 or under at the time of the International Event.
  • Singers under age 18 must be accompanied at convention by a parent/guardian
  • No singer may perform with more than one Varsity Chorus.
  • Each chorus will pay a $300 registration fee.
  • Each singer and director must hold a full convention registration. Varsity and Honors Chorus participants will receive one complimentary registration (if they are not also competing in the Varsity or open quartet contest.)
  • Hotel rooms must be reserved by the chorus through the BHS official convention block.
  • Choruses will sing two contestable barbershop songs and one a cappella song of their choice.
  • Each youth chorus will be adjudicated and rated on our Festival scale.

2019 NextGen Varsity Chorus - South Rampart Street

Rules & Eligibility


  • All singers must be male and age 25 or under at the time of the International Event.
  • A chorus may have members under the age of 18, as long as a parent or guardian accompanies the underage chorus member(s) at the convention and accepts responsibility for the minor(s) on the Youth Participation Form.
  • Each chorus must pay a $300 chorus registration fee.
  • Membership with the Society is not required for the singers or director.
  • The chorus must be able to attend and participate in the entire convention activities described here, arriving on Wednesday and departing on Sunday.


  • Each varsity chorus will be adjudicated on three songs. Two of the three songs must be contestable by BHS Contest and Judging (hereinafter C&J) standards (refer to the Suggested Song List, or contact the BHS with questions). The third selection can be any song sung a cappella with any number of voice parts, may be in a foreign language, and vocal percussion is permitted. No instrumentation is allowed for any of the three song selections. Certified BHS judges will be adjudicating according to BHS C&J rules (with allowances for the third selection.)
  • Singers may NOT sing with more than one Varsity chorus.
  • All arrangements performed by Varsity choruses must be obtained in accordance with international and USA copyright law. Further information may be found here.
  • Each Varsity chorus will be required to learn 2 mass songs to be sung during the convention on Friday or Saturday.
  • Any singer competing in the Varsity Quartet Contest or open quartet contest is required to purchase a full convention registration.
  • All Varsity participants will be required to stay within the BHS convention hotel block at their own expense. Participants staying outside of the hotel block will forfeit any/all scholarship/financial assistance and be disqualified from all Varsity participation.

Entry & Qualification

  • August 1 - December 1: Interested Varsity choruses can submit their ensemble for consideration.
  • Varsity Choruses must have their chorus names approved so as not to conflict with names already selected and reserved by registered BHS chapters or other Varsity Chorus Invitational participants.
  • December 15: Up to 5 Varsity choruses will be invited with priority given to ensembles coming from a single college/university and first-time attendees. Due to the extreme demand for the invitational, we welcome all applicants to record a video demonstrating why they should be considered for an invitation. Video must be received before December 1.
  • February 15: Deadline for invited Varsity choruses to register
  • Varsity Choruses may be invited after the February 15 deadline to fill in possible slot opening(s).
  • All choruses are required to participate in a pre-event and post-event survey.
  • All video/photo/audio submitted will be owned and used without restriction by BHS.

Barbershop Style

  • Basic characteristics of barbershop harmony:
    • Four unaccompanied male voices.
    • Melody in the second voice down (lead, or second tenor). The melody lies within the good quality range for the average lead singer and is free of awkward skips that make it difficult to sing accurately.
    • Consonant four-part chords on all notes of the melody, almost completely in root position and second inversion.
    • Easily understandable lyrics that are in good taste.
  • A chief characteristic of the barbershop style is its wholesome, “G-rated” entertainment values. Forfeiture, though, may result from one or all judges for:
    • Anyone other than quartet members or the director appearing on stage during the performance.
    • Actions by any contestant that are deemed suggestive, vulgar, or otherwise not in good taste, as determined by acceptable, contemporary community standards. The two songs in the barbershop style must not be either primarily patriotic or primarily religious in intent.
    • Any spoken words deemed excessive or detrimental to the performance. Participating quartet should not introduce their selections.
    • Use of contestant’s own electronic sound equipment.
    • Instrumental accompaniment, including instrumental introductions, interludes, or conclusions.

Judging Criteria

  • Each varsity chorus will receive a score in three categories (Singing, Music, and Presentation, according to BHS C&J Rules - see the Contest Judging Handbook). All participating varsity choruses will be awarded a rating based on the overall score from the judging panel.
  • Rating Criteria
    • -Good: <13 (<61% on BHS 100 point scale)
    • -Excellent: 13 to <17 (61 to <68% on BHS 100 point scale)
    • -Outstanding: 17 to <21 (68 to <75 on BHS 100 point scale)
    • -Superior: >21 (>75 on BHS 100 point scale)
  • Each Varsity chorus will receive scores based on a 30-point scale (converted from the standard BHS 100-point scale). Should your Varsity chorus be interested on how your score converts to the BHS 100-point scale, this information can be provided to you after the festival by requesting the conversion from


  • Varsity and Honors Chorus participants will be given one complimentary registration (assuming they are not also competing in the varsity or open quartet contest)
  • Varsity choruses attending the invitational for the first time may be eligible for chorus scholarship assistance
  • Varsity chorus participants will be given one complimentary ticket to the AIC Show
  • Any singer competing in the open quartet contest is ineligible for any level of Varsity scholarship assistance


Contact for more information.