Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 21st season! After two incredible decades of presenting the best student groups – on stage and in the studio – our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever.

Our tournament has grown from a handful of events to the massive showcase it is today, featuring nearly 500 groups and 8,000 singers at 81 events across the US and UK.

Our tournament has inspired the hit movie Pitch Perfect, based on the non-fiction book documenting the true story of rival groups competing against each other in our very own ICCA. Already the highest-grossing musical series of all time, the franchise will release its third film at the end of this year.

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 is now available 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 are thrilled to launch the International Championship of A Cappella Open this year. “The Open” (#acaopen) is an all-access a cappella tournament that will bring together singers of all ages, regardless of student status, to compete on an international stage.

The 2017 Open Finals will take place in Carnegie Hall on Saturday, September 23, and the winner will receive a cash prize of $25,000 to launch their professional career. The winners of the 2017 ICCA and ICHSA tournaments are automatically entered in The Open Finals.

We hope 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.

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 21 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2017 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!


Amanda Newman
Executive Director



The Auditorium Theatre Saturday, March 4, 2017



We're talking about this event, and all of our events around the world!




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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) and the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA). We also produce the annual Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and 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 2 to 5 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 at the historic Beacon Theatre in New York City.

The high school tournament is now in its 12th year and continues to grow fast. We are now holding quarterfinal rounds in most regions, so that we can feature even more high school groups. The winners of each of 8 semifinal rounds will advance to the ICHSA Finals at The Town Hall in New York City.

For a full tournament schedule, visit us at



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.

After the results are announced, the winners will perform and encore. Please show the winners the same courtesy and respect you’d want your favorite group to be shown and remain in the venue until they have finished their performance.    

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.



Gold Vibrations is Oakland University's premier co-ed a cappella group from Rochester Hills, Mich. It is composed of the most entertaining and strange folk in the industry. In order to be in GV, members are first infused with the DNA of actual grizzly bears to give them extra ferocity while competing! The group’s past year involved going all the way to ICCA Finals and recording its first album, Ignite. Not only has GV become a family in less than 10 years, but its members are some of the kindest, gentle-hearted individuals one could ever meet. They are so grateful for everything they have been able to do so far, and thank their families, friends, classmates, and fans for always supporting them.

No Comment is a 14-member co-ed a cappella group from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This high-energy group of best friends shares a passion for a cappella, and is known for its innovative arrangements and choreography that culminate in memorable performances. In 2013, the group advanced to ICCA Finals in New York, and in 2015, the group was one of five in the nation to be featured on “Sing It On,” a reality docu-series from executive producer John Legend. They're on Netflix! NoCo has no intention of slowing down, with new albums, videos, and music on the way. No Comment is sure to leave you speechless.

Maize Mirchi is the University of Michigan’s South Asian-inspired a cappella group. Founded in 2007, Mirchi aspires to bring together the musical styles of South Asian and Western music to fuse them in the form of a cappella. Since its conception, Mirchi has not only made a name for itself in the world of South Asian a cappella, but also in the greater a cappella community, and they hope to add a little spice for you all to enjoy!

Amazin' Blue is the University of Michigan's oldest and only university-sponsored co-ed a cappella ensemble. Founded in 1987, AB has produced 16 studio albums, performed around the nation, and is the most decorated a cappella group at U of M. Their name is a pun on the University of Michigan's colors, maize and blue... get it?

Voices in Your Head has competed in the ICCA since 2009, most recently finishing as the 1st runner-up at ICCA Finals in 2015, with plenty of special awards in vocal percussion, choreography, and arranging along the way. Voices is also proud to be featured on a number of compilation albums, including Best of BOCA: The First 20 Years and Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella! In 2016, Voices released its sixth studio album, LIGHTS! Check out their website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel to learn more!

As the premier a cappella group at the University of Minnesota, 7Days A Cappella has a proud history of strong music quality, performance, and campus presence. Founded in 2003 by Anthony Brown and Brienne Foyt, 7Days began as an opportunity for a diverse group of students to connect over their love of music and performance. Today, the group competes annually in ICCA and has a history of success; last year, they won Best Soloist and Best Vocal Percussionist at Quarterfinals. 7Days A Cappella frequently performs at concerts, professional events, meetings, and high schools around the Twin Cities region. 7Days also works to expand the U of M a cappella presence by connecting with other a cappella groups from the U of M and other universities. In 2016, they hosted a successful concert titled Battle for the Vox, featuring nearly all the U of M and the UW-Madison groups. 7Days is excited to showcase this year’s ICCA set, which is driven by months of hard work and dedication. If you like what you hear, check them out on social media and follow for regular updates. Enjoy!

As NIU's premier all-female a cappella group, The Harmelodics prides itself on entertaining audiences of all types! Whether it’s an angsty tune from the early 2000s or a heartstring-pulling ballad, these 12 passionate young women strive to bring positive vibes and love to all music they perform!

Through the power of music, storytelling, and tan suspenders, Fundamentally Sound has captured national attention as UW-Madison’s all-male competitive a cappella group. Founded in 2005, Fundamentally Sound continues to push the boundaries of collegiate a cappella with thought-provoking musical arrangements and high-energy performances. Fundamentally Sound, or FS, has had the pleasure of leading workshops for student groups and choirs around the Midwest as well as singing with professional groups, such as “The Sing-Off” winner, Home Free. FS conveys both passion and fun with each performance, creating a musically diverse and entertaining atmosphere for their audiences.

Euphoria is all about sharing the joy of music with everyone around them. The group was the first co-ed a cappella group at Grand Valley State University, and has always striven to bring men and women together through one common outlet, a cappella music. While the names and faces of the people in the group may change over the years, the goals of the group have remained the same, for them to sing, you to listen, and everyone to experience the joy and euphoria that comes from their music.

Ladies First is MSU's only all-female a cappella group. Born in 1985, Ladies First performs at community, university, and private events! They love to make great music and like to think they entertain along the way.



Kimberly Raschka Sailor is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB), with more than 300 reviews authored since 2005 for groups at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She is the co-founder and past president of the University of Southern California's Reverse Osmosis, a group that has competed in the ICCA Finals. Kimberly has also served as a CARA (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award) nominator and judge. In addition to volunteering in the a cappella community, Kimberly is an author and elected school board member for the Mount Horeb Area School District in Wisconsin.

Shams Ahmed is an arranger, music director, and educator from Cherry Hill, N.J. He is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, where he directed the 2013 ICCA champions, The Nor'easters. During his tenure, the group picked up several compilation placements and CARAs, won SoJamX, and gained national attention. Shams also earned more arranging awards than any other collegiate arranger before him. Throughout an exciting a cappella career, he has developed a strong belief that the heart of an a cappella group is its arrangements. He is working to bring better arrangements to groups all over the country in the hope that he can, in some small way, push the boundaries of a cappella at large. Shams wholeheartedly believes in the spirit of competition and owes much of his a cappella development to the ICCA, so judging this season's shows is extremely exciting for him. Shams currently lives in Boston, working as a financial services derivatives specialist at State Street Corp., arranging music for The Vocal Company, and coaching local a cappella groups.

Patrick Hockberger is a Chicago-based composer who uses music to fight for social change. He received a degree in music composition from Northwestern University, where he also served as music director and arranger for The Undertones. His most recent work, “synesthesia,” is an opera distributed as a free podcast. Each of the 43 episodes was released on the one-year anniversary of a tragic gun accident involving a toddler, and subscribers were notified of new episodes at the precise moment each gun went off 12 months earlier. To subscribe, open the Podcast app on any iPhone and search ""

Jessie Louise Mark graduated from Duke University in 2011, where she majored in history and minored in music. She is currently pursuing an M.B.A. at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. During her four years as a member and director of Duke’s award-winning all-female a cappella group, Lady Blue, Jessie developed a love for music theory and a cappella education. She has taught beginner music theory for vocal arranging a cappella festivals around the country, and serves as the Scholastic Festival producer of The Betsy A Cappella Festival, and education coordinator for the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival. Jessie sings and beatboxes with VXN, a bi-coastal all-female vocal quintet, and Ross’s house rock band, Risky Business.

Amy J. Branahl has been teaching choral music for 14 years at the high school and middle school levels. She is one of the choral directors at New Trier High School. Additionally, Amy is artistic director of the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago (YCT), a community-based after-school program that enrolls 75 young people in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Amy graduated from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) with a B.M.E. and M.M.E. in choral music education (voice/piano). An avid arranger, she started arranging music during her time at the University of Illinois. Amy serves as an adjudicator for the ICCA and ICHSA with Varsity Vocals, and has been active in the contemporary a cappella scene. Amy has been the guest conductor for several music festivals, notably the 2011 Illinois Music Educators Association District VII Junior High Music Festival, the 2014 District 300 Junior High Chorus Festival, and was chosen to vocal direct this year’s Illinois High School Theater Festival All-state Show, “Sweeney Todd.” She is an active member of American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, NafME, and is serving on the Executive Board as the Illinois State Treasurer for IL-ACDA. Amy and her husband Jared have three beautiful boys and reside in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank the Auditorium Staff, Beth Kaskel, Mary Mazza, Kam Hobbs, Joseph Aquino of Liquid 5th, Amanda Newman, Elise Hackl, Andrea Poole, Andrew Poole, Selame Scarlett, and Trent Snyder; 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 Jackson
The Open Director
ICCA Southwest Producer

ICCA Northwest Producer

Andrew Poole
Director of Digital Media

Emily Sucher
Director of Publications

Erica Tackett
Director of Marketing & Social Strategy

Virginia DeMoss
Album Production Coordinator

Mark Chen
Adjudication Co-Director

Emily Flanders
Adjudication Co-Director
ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Sara Yood
ICCA & ICHSA Finals Producer
ICHSA Northeast Producer


Holly Hayes
ICCA Northeast Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Andy Pacer
ICCA Central Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
ICCA Midwest Producer

Matt Shirer
ICHSA West Producer

Henry Harrod
ICCA UK Producer

Elise Hackl
ICHSA Midwest Producer
ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
ICHSA South Producer
ICHSA Southwest Co-Producer

Pearce Illmer
ICHSA Southwest Co-Producer

Courtney Jensen
ICHSA Northwest Producer



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 ICCA Finals.



The International Championship
of A Cappella Open


Carnegie Hall
Saturday, September 23, 2017



Find your favorite groups on Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and Best of High School A Cappella (BOHSA), available for purchase on iTunes and Loudr!




Just in time for the start of the 2017 ICCA and ICHSA season, the official Varsity Vocals store is open for business! Did your favorite group make it on BOCA or BOHSA this year? Are you competing in the 2017 ICCA or ICHSA? Is your favorite group competing and you want to be properly attired at the show? Represent with your very own official Varsity Vocals swag!