Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 22nd 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 tournaments have grown from a handful of events to the massive showcase they are today, featuring more than 600 groups and 8,500 singers at 85 events across North America and the United Kingdom.

Our original tournament inspired the hit movie Pitch Perfect, based on the nonfiction book documenting the true story of rival groups competing against each other in our very own ICCA. The franchise released its third film this past December and remains the highest-grossing musical series of all time.

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 were thrilled to launch the International Championship of A Cappella Open last summer. “The Open” (#AcaOpen) is an all-access a cappella tournament that brings together singers of all ages, regardless of student status, to compete on an international stage for a chance at $25,000. In its very first season, The Open featured 70 groups from around the world and culminated in a sold-out Finals at New York City's Carnegie Hall -- and we expect even bigger things this summer, as our second season kicks off.

We hope that over the years, 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, right? 

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 22 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2018 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



Auditorium Theatre 
Saturday, March 17, 2018



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), the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA), and the International Championship of A Cappella Open (The Open). 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 3 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 13th 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.

The Open tournament took place for the first time in summer 2017 and featured 70 groups competing in six US  semifinals, an international semifinal, and a wild card round. The winners of those events advanced to The Open Finals at Carnegie Hall, where they competed against our reigning ICCA and ICHSA champions for $25,000. The second season of The Open will take place starting this summer and will culminate at Carnegie Hall on September 22.

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.

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.



Voices in Your Head is a student-run a cappella group from the University of Chicago consisting of students whose areas of study span as far as their musical tastes. The group strives to push the boundaries of collegiate a cappella by using the human voice in innovative and creative ways. Voices is honored to have advanced to ICCA Finals in the past, including in 2017. In addition to Voices' successful showings in competitions, their last album, titled LIGHTS, won the 2017 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) for Best Mixed Collegiate Album.

Founded in 2001, The Undertones is a co-ed a cappella group from Northwestern University. The group’s members hail from all over the place and study in every major school that Northwestern offers. In addition to their mainstage shows every year, they group gigs all over the Chicagoland area. Just this past year, they’ve sung at sorority events, local schools, fundraisers for other student groups, and charity events. Previous tour locations include Washington D.C., New York, Miami, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston, and Edinburgh, Scotland. This past winter, they traveled to Washington D.C. and sang at the White House! The Undertones have released five studio albums. Their latest album, Spit It Out, includes “When We Were Young,” which earned a spot on the 2017 Voices Only compilation album. Their 2013 album, Rock Paper Shotgun, was nominated for a CARA for Best Mixed Collegiate Album. The album's opening track, "Plain Gold Ring," was nominated for Best Mixed Arrangement, Best Solo, and was included in Voices Only 2013 and the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America's (CASA) sing 10: neon. The track "Gunpowder and Lead" was nominated for Best Mixed Collegiate Song, and "Bluebird" was selected for Voices Only 2014. Although the bulk of their time together is spent rehearsing, performing, and recording, The Undertones are also a close group of friends who love keeping the fun and silliness alive in the work that they do!

No Comment
is a co-ed a cappella group from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This high-energy group has a passion for a cappella, but more importantly, Olive Garden. 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. You can check them out on Netflix! NoCo has no intention of slowing down, with new albums, videos, and music continuously in the works. With their performance tonight, No Comment is sure to leave you speechless.

Secondary Dominance
is Illinois State University's premier women's a cappella ensemble. Established in 2004, the girls have been delighting audiences with their instrument-free performances on campus and around the Bloomington-Normal community ever since. They perform a range of music, from pop to rock to Broadway, and arrange the majority of it themselves. They like long walks on the beach, beatboxing to the “Spider-Man” theme song, and chicken-nugget-eating stories.

Amazin' Blue
is the oldest and most decorated co-ed a cappella group at the University of Michigan. They recently celebrated their 30th anniversary in conjunction with the University's bicentennial year. Amazin' Blue's membership includes a wide variety of majors and disciplines and they have an alumni base of over 200 active alums. Amazin' Blue prides itself on musical experimentation and storytelling, as well as the development of vocal music as a whole.

The G-Men
(or Gentlemen for long) is the premier all-male a cappella group at the University of Michigan. They are known for their massive triceps, fanatical obsession with guppies, and for rocking audiences with the power of 100 raging Mark Ruffalos.

Founded in the fall of 2008, State of Fifths is a 15-person co-ed a cappella group from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. They are known for their emotionally driven performances, and they generally spend free time doing gigs, circle singing, and having spontaneous dance parties. While the singers of State of Fifths strive to push their own limits and become better musicians, they're also a close-knit family that loves to sing and give their all in every performance

is a collegiate a cappella group of 14 members, and they’re ready to show the world who they are and what they can do. Euphoria was founded in 2006 at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich. They were the first co-ed a cappella group to exist on campus. Last year, they made a return to the ICCA stage after taking a year off with a different outlook and new goals, and ended up taking 1st place at their Quarterfinal in Grand Ledge, Mich., advancing to Semifinals in Chicago. The group auditions in the first few weeks of the school year and pulls students from a vast array of backgrounds and areas of study. Majors in engineering, math, political science, music, education, and business all come together in Euphoria to do what they love. They perform in the Grand Rapids area and at Grand Valley throughout the semester, in addition to various events on and off campus. While the names and faces of the group members may change over the years, their goals remain the same: for them to sing, you to listen, and everyone to experience the Euphoria that comes from their music.

Formed in 1996, Purple Haze has been singin', dancin' and lovin' for over 20 years! Completely run by students, they rehearse on a weekly basis and put on a killer show each quarter. In the fall, they invite other groups from nearby colleges to perform in their Best of the Midwest concert. In the winter, they combine a cappella with games and improv for an event called Too Much A Cappella Makes the Baby Go Deaf, based on the Neo-Futurists' popular Chicago show. In the spring, they devise a new script to go with their songs and a theme of their choosing. Aside from campus shows, Purple Haze also performs throughout the Chicagoland area at events and school workshops. Purple Haze has released nine studio albums, all of which are available on iTunes and Spotify. Their cover of "Pretty Hurts" was recently selected for the 2017 track list of Voices Only, an annual compilation album featuring the world’s best collegiate groups. The a cappella podcast, "Mouth Off," called them "the best you're going to hear out of the whole Midwestern United States" and "the group that everyone wants to party with!" Purple Haze goes on tour every year, to domestic and international locations including Montreal, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Dublin, and Washington D.C. Purple Haze competes biennially in the ICCA, and were proud to make it to Semifinals in 2016. Most importantly, they are a group of friends who love to sing together!

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. FS conveys passion, brotherhood, and fun with each performance, creating a musically diverse and entertaining atmosphere for their audiences. In their free time, FS enjoys fine dining, Justin Timberlake, long walks on the beach, and short walks on the beach.



Daniel Fister is a doctoral candidate at Washington University in St. Louis studying musicology. He earned his undergraduate degree in vocal performance and music history at Chapman University, and his master’s degree in music history at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. He has presented and written on collegiate a cappella, musical theatre, and other American music. Before his life as an academic, Daniel directed, sang, and arranged for Wilsonville High School’s Soul’d Out, leading them to the 2010 ICHSA Finals, and then for Chapman University’s SoundCheck, with whom he competed regularly in ICCA and directed the production of their debut album, Everything (2012). He remains involved in a cappella as a judge and arranger.

Heather Newkirk is a proud alumna of Syracuse University's Main Squeeze, for whom she sang, arranged, choreographed, and did vocal percussion. Since graduating, Heather has remained active in the a cappella world as social media coordinator for BOSS, Program Manager of Social Media for CASA, associate producer of Voices Only, and an instructor for workshops and masterclasses at a cappella festivals nationwide. She has won ICCA awards for Outstanding Arrangement and Outstanding Vocal Percussion as a college student, and Varsity Vocals has held a special place in her heart ever since.

Kimberly Raschka Sailor is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB), and she has written more than 300 reviews of high school, collegiate, and professional groups since 2005. A former ICCA Finalist, Kimberly is the co-founder and past president of the University of Southern California's Reverse Osmosis. Kimberly has also served as a CARA 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, NJ. He is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., where he directed a cappella heavy-hitter group, The Nor'easters, while double majoring in finance and Mandarin. During his tenure, the group earned several compilation placements and CARAs and Shams earned numerous arranging awards. While directing and singing with the Sojam X and ICCA 2013/2017 champions, Shams also founded the all-female group, Pitch, Please. More recently, he was featured alongside The Nor’easters in Season 1 of POP TV’s reality docu-series, “Sing It On,” and can be seen coaching groups on Season 2. He is also a director and a teacher of musicianship and arranging at A Cappella Academy, a Los Angeles-based summer camp founded by Avi Kaplan, formerly of Pentatonix. In the fall, he can be found bringing a cappella music to South Beach alongside a panel of experts, including Ben Bram, Robert Dietz, and India Carney at The Betsy's A Cappella Festival. Shams serves as a regular judge at ICCA, ICHSA, and CASA events all over the country. Outside of a cappella, he also serves as Director, Talent & Creative for Northeastern University's $1.4 billion Empower fundraising campaign. He currently lives in Boston, working in business intelligence, arranging, coaching, and overseeing projects in the a cappella world. @theonlyshamsyouknow

Liz Hutchinson 
earned her bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 2011 and a master's degree in music education from DePaul University in 2015. While completing her undergraduate work, Liz was an active member of the choral music and a cappella communities, performing with many university ensembles and serving as music director of The Illinois Rip Chords. She is the recipient of several scholarships and awards, including the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award at Illinois and the Graduate Music Education Scholarship at DePaul. This is Liz’s sixth year as choral director and music theory teacher at West Aurora High School, in Aurora, Ill., where she leads a choral department of over 250 singers and nine choirs. She is a performer in the Chicago area, singing with the TVK Orchestra and An Octave Above A Cappella. Liz is also a freelance arranger and has created custom a cappella arrangements for several high school choral groups in the Midwest. She currently resides in Oak Park, Ill. with her husband, Andrew (also a choral director) and their pitbull, Chuck. 



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Andrea Poole, Andrew Poole, Bryan Pennington, Trent Snyder, The Auditorium Theatre staff, and Joseph Aquino; 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 Jacobs
The Open Director
 ICCA West Producer

Andrew Poole
 Director of Digital Media

Erica Tackett
 Director of Marketing & Social Strategy

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Emily Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Sara Yood
 ICCA & ICHSA Finals Producer
 ICHSA Northeast Producer

Courtney Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West Producer

Henry Harrod
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Elise Hackl
 ICHSA Midwest Producer

Riley McMahon
 ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
 ICHSA South & Southwest Producer

Mark Chen
ICHSA Southwest Co-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!



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!





The International Championship
of A Cappella Open


Carnegie Hall
 Saturday, September 22, 2018