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Virtual LENS: What to expect

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

No matter who you are or where you’re from, 2020 has been a challenging year, to say the least. Cut Off Studios is right there with you, and this year we were saddened to have to cancel our annual LENS event, a day-long conference for a cappella education, networking and performance.

However, thanks to our dedicated and innovative events team, the Studio will still be bringing LENS to the a cappella community...but this time, we’re going virtual!

If you’re interested in learning more about Virtual LENS or want to sign up, click here for more information! If you’re already registered and are looking for ways to prepare for the self-proclaimed a cappella event of the year, look no further than this handy guide for what to expect from Virtual LENS.

This year, LENS will take place entirely over Zoom, allowing you to receive top-notch a cappella information from the comfort of your couch. The day-long event has been condensed into three hours for accessibility purposes (and to prevent Zoom fatigue!). LENS will begin at 6 pm and conclude at 9 pm on November 8, allowing all participants to take three classes each.

Participants will receive a Zoom link to access the event, which will start with a brief introduction and separate into breakout rooms from there. There will be a break between each class and a networking period in the middle of the program where groups can mingle and make connections

Virtual LENS will offer eight classes covering a range of topics that will last 40 minutes each. Participants will have the freedom to choose any two classes on the day of the event, plus attendance to our brand new class, Acaconic.

Acaconic is a new feature of this year’s LENS that all of us at the Studio are especially excited about. After much debate, Studio members have named an ICCA set that we deem to be the best of the best; a performance that displayed exceptional showmanship, vocals, and general a cappella mastery. In Acaconic, we will be breaking down this performance and diving into what exactly made it so good, and how you can apply that to your own performances. We can’t wait to nerd out with our LENS participants about our favorite ICCA sets!

This year, we won’t be offering masterclasses or holding a showcase at LENS because of the logistical challenges. However, all of our Virtual LENS attendees are welcome to schedule a private masterclass with our stellar clinicians for another time! We are always happy to provide more focused and group-specific services through our Masterclass or Masterclass 2.0 programs.

Although the loss of our usual in-person LENS was a blow to the Studio, our events team is more excited than ever to present this virtual experience! Alli Jakubek, Vice President of Events, said she had been unsure if Virtual LENS was the way to go, but her team’s commitment to the idea was inspiring.

Now, she says that she couldn’t be more excited for Virtual LENS, and is looking forward to . “It’s going to be interesting to see what we do in the future,” Alli said. “Is this going to be a one-time event, or are we going to do stuff like this all the time now?”

To Alli, one of the biggest positive aspects of Virtual LENS is that the event can be shared with so many more people than in previous years. The Studio prides itself on valuing education and community, and we are so excited to reach a wider audience via Zoom and connect with more of the a cappella community than ever before.

“Previously, we could only pull groups if they’re around where our host group is,” Alli said. “So, typically our host groups have been in the Richmond/DC area, so our reach was really limited in that way. But the Virtual LENS is allowing us to kind of pull from across the country, we’re crossing over the border into Canada, and we’re getting to really connect with a lot more groups from different places, which is amazing.”

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