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



DeKalb High School
Saturday, February 18, 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.



Enharmonic Fusion is a mixed a cappella ensemble from DeKalb High School in DeKalb, Ill. Established in 2010, they advanced to the ICHSA Finals its first year, and again in 2012, 2015, and 2016. When not rehearsing or performing, they enjoy getting ice cream and listening to a cappella jams. They also enjoy hearing Mr. Erikson cheerfully remind them to clean up their water bottles and music binders. They would like to send a huge thanks to all who have helped them prepare for this event, and to their friends and family for support. They would also like to thank Varsity Vocals for the opportunity to participate and wish the best to all of the other contestants!

Hawkappella is a fun, loving, and talented group of musicians from Bartlett High School in Bartlett, Ill. and is in School District U-46. This is the group's third year of existence and they've worked very hard to be ready for this competition! They're so excited to get to perform together and do what they love onstage!

Nothin' but Treble of Wilmette, Ill. consists of Loyola Academy's most dedicated female vocalists, and includes freshmen through seniors. In addition to producing a full, dynamic sound, these vocal powerhouses are like sisters. The members of Nothin' but Treble distinguish themselves by creating impactful art and capturing audiences with their bubbly personalities. These vocalists hope to share their love of music while proving themselves as qualified competitors.

Maximum Forte, based out of Charleston High School in Charleston, Ill. is known throughout Central Illinois for its big sound, fancy footwork, and infectious energy. The group members pride themselves on having big dreams despite their small school size. Group members are not only leaders in the music department, but are also leaders in academics and various sports, teams, and clubs at Charleston High School. The ensemble is frequently requested to entertain at community and school events in Central Illinois, including the Youth in Harmony Festival at Eastern Illinois University. In spring 2016, Maximum Forte was thrilled to be invited to participate in a performance tour to New Orleans. The group is excited to return to the ICHSA this year after participating in the Midwest Quarterfinals in 2016 and Midwest Semifinals in 2015.

Note Nerdy is the a cappella ensemble for The High School of St. Thomas More. The group was established in 2013 and has received multiple awards and honors from ICHSA and other organizations. The group performs annually at the ICHSA and occasionally performs at national festivals. Note Nerdy performed at Carnegie Hall in 2014 and is planning a trip to Nashville in 2018. Note Nerdy primarily focuses on popular music and was founded on the principles of faith, excellence, and fraternity.

Vocal Point performs in over 25 different events and represented the entire state of Wisconsin at the World Choir Games in Cincinnati, Ohio a few summers ago. There, they shared the stage with groups from over 65 different countries. Through ICHSA, they have placed in the top 20 high school groups in the country for three years in a row. In 2015, Vocal Point was one of seven high school groups in the country to be selected for the very first contemporary a cappella festival at Carnegie Hall in New York, hosted by "Pitch Perfect" musical director and the ‘Godfather’ of a cappella himself, Deke Sharon. Along with performing, Vocal Point also reaches out to schools all across the Midwest by presenting workshops on the value of hard work and the role of music in their lives.

Hailing from the walleye capital of the world in Port Clinton, Ohio, Touch of Class is the top auditioned vocal ensemble at Port Clinton High School. Touch of Class has competed in ICHSA Finals and the NACC National A Cappella Championship in previous years. They have released three studio albums in conjunction with Route 53 Records, and they are excited to compete in another season of ICHSA with so many great groups! Follow them on all forms of social media for updates @PCTouchofClass!



Adam McNeil has competed in the ICCA twice with The Northern Illinois University Huskie Hunks, of which he was a founding member. As president, he led The Huskie Hunks to Midwest Semifinals, in just its fourth year of existence. Since graduating, Adam spent the summer at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., advising the school’s all-male a cappella group, PROFecey. Adam is currently a graduate student at Western Illinois University and is studying student affairs. Adam's love for a cappella continues and he is very excited to be judging for Varsity Vocals this season.

Erin Egan graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in choral music education.  At the University of Illinois, Erin spent several years as a member and music director of the co-ed group, No Comment A Cappella.  She is the current director of Guys & Dolls, the co-ed a cappella group hailing from Niles West High School in Skokie, Ill.  In addition, she is the volunteer coordinator for the SingStrong Chicago A Cappella Festival, an annual a cappella event that raises money to help fight Alzheimer’s disease.  Erin continues to arrange music for groups at the high school and collegiate levels, and teaches vocal and general music at Lincoln Hall Middle School in Lincolnwood, Ill.

Emily Benjamin is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she spent most of her time pursuing a degree in comparative human development and singing with the a cappella group, Voices in Your Head. Emily has always found lasting friendships and endless joy through the a cappella community, having competed in the ICCA three times. Holding a minor in music from the University of Chicago, Emily has arranged for Voices in Your Head and composes in her free time.

Matthew Koehlinger is the director of choral activities at Palatine High School in Palatine, Ill. He received his bachelor’s degree in choral music education from Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. At ISU, Matthew was a member of The Acafellaz. During his time with them, he arranged dozens of songs and served as the group’s music director and president. Matthew is a member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and National Association for Music Educators. He has been commissioned by numerous high school groups to write contemporary pop a cappella arrangements, and has served as a liaison to groups preparing for ICCA and ICHSA. Matthew is very excited to be a part of Varsity Vocals and continue with his love of a cappella music.

Cory Ellis is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. He is a founding member and former musical director of The NIU Huskie Hunks, the premier all-male a cappella group on campus. With The Huskie Hunks, he attended and performed at the VoiceJam A Cappella Festival in Feyettevill, Ariz., as well as the National A Cappella Convention in Eads, Tenn. In addition to his a cappella contributions to NIU, Cory was also the head drum major of The Pride of the Midwest, the Huskie marching band, and a member of the world-renowned NIU Steelband.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Angel Smith, Travis Erikson, The DeKalb administration, The Ransom Notes, and Samantha Noga; 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 two placing groups advance to the ICHSA Midwest Semifinal.



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!