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Varsity Quartets

Step up to your biggest stage ever

...and launch a lifetime of singing!

About the Varsity Quartet Contest

Since 1992, the Barbershop Harmony Society has launched hundreds of quartets through its national quartet contests for young singers. Five world champion quartets started here, plus dozens of medalists, directors, and musical leaders.

Thousands of fans will greet the finalists at the International Convention, in a showcase of the best singers between the ages of 18 - 26. Spend a week singing with hundreds of passionate Barbershoppers, and take your place in an honors chorus -- a peak experience that is a convention highlight for our singers.

Upcoming Events & Deadlines

2021 International Convention - REBOOKED

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 International Convention in Cleveland has been rebooked to 2024.

AGE LIMITS REVISED FOR 2022 AND 2023

We know how hard singers have worked to qualify for this event, and the cancellation for the second year will bring questions on how we will handle the age limit.

  • We are temporarily increasing the maximum age to 27 for the 2022 Varsity Quartet Contest and Chorus Invitational.
  • The maximum age will be reduced to 26 for the 2023 event.
  • The maximum age will return to the program’s previous age limit of 25 in 2024 and for subsequent events.

QUALIFICATION PROCESS FOR 2022 VARSITY QUARTET CONTEST

  • The program is open to women’s, men’s, and mixed harmony ensembles.
  • All quartets will need to qualify, regardless of previous qualification for prior events
  • Video qualification will be open from August 1- December 1, 2021, mirroring prior year qualification windows.
  • The 20 highest scoring quartets will be invited to compete

The Barbershop Style

  • Basic characteristics of barbershop harmony:
    • Four unaccompanied 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

  • Videos will be judged by C&J Score (100 points per song - see the Contest Judging Handbook)
    • Each video will receive scores from at least one certified judge in any scoring category
    • At least one judge will be required to write a brief, one-paragraph evaluation encouraging the competitor’s participation and improvement
  • Top 20 will be invited to compete at International based on overall combined scores
  • Non-qualifying quartets will be invited to participate in the Varsity Honors Chorus.
  • Medals will be awarded to the top 5 quartets

Questions?

Contact outreach@barbershop.org for more information.