Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 23rd season! Our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever after almost a quarter century of presenting the best student groups on stage and in the studio.

Our tournaments have grown from a handful of events to the massive showcase they are today, featuring more than 650 groups and 9,800 singers at 87 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 Pitch Perfect franchise 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 enjoyed a long stay 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 two years ago. “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. Its third season will kick off this summer.

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 23 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2019 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 Athenaeum Theatre
Saturday, January 26, 2019



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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 annually produce The Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and The 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 three to five 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 in New York City.

The high school tournament is now in its 14th year and continues to grow fast. We are now holding Quarterfinal rounds in all of our regions, and the 2019 season will feature the largest high school tournament field in our history. The winners of each of seven Semifinal rounds will advance to the ICHSA Finals at The Town Hall in New York City.

The Open Tournament took place for the second time ever in summer 2018 and featured six semifinals that lead to the Open Finals featuring those six Regional Champions, two Wild Card Champions, and our 2018 ICHSA and ICCA Champions. Those 10 groups competed at Carnegie Hall in New York City this past September.

 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.



Counterpoint is Loyola University Chicago’s premier competitive co-ed a cappella group. They personally arrange and energetically perform a diverse range of music to feature at their concerts, competitions, and other events throughout the city. They provide a creative musical outlet for their members and listeners and are proud to share that joy with their city! 

Downtown Voices is the premier a cappella group at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Though these 16 talented singers are from different majors, they are united in their passion for music and memes. Outside of rehearsal, they enjoy exploring all the culinary and cultural opportunities Chicago has to offer. Fun fact: DTV stands for Dogs, Tacos, and Volleyball. 

Identity Crisis is the sole competing a cappella group of Lawrence University. They got their start when founder Joe Dennis wanted to create a group to focus on modern and contemporary music. Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music is primarily a classical institution which mainly features music from the common practice era. Joe wanted to provide outlet to experience contemporary music, and being the a cappella nerd that he is, he made it into an a cappella group. The members of Identity Crisis have a wide variety of singing experiences, including opera, classical, choral, madrigal, musical theatre, rock, pop, R&B, jazz, gospel, and more! The group is relatively small, and they use this to their advantage by crafting complex arrangements with tight harmonies. Identity Crisis believes that a cappella is about working around limitations, and this is clearly represented by their rich and energized sound. They’ve already made a name for themselves by performing at local open mic events, as well as The Lawrence University Annual Giving Day Livestream. They may be having an Identity Crisis, but they know who they are. 

The ISU Acafellaz is the premier all-male a cappella group at Illinois State University. Founded in 1999, they have been entertaining the Bloomington-Normal area and beyond for 20 years! 

Founded in 1991, Rhythm and Jews, or RnJ, is UChicago's premier (and only) Jewish a cappella group. They are a mixture of Jews and non-Jews, guys and girls, who all love to have fun singing together! They perform pop music, Disney classics, Hebrew songs, and anything else with a great sound. Their repertoire includes “24 Karat Magic” by Bruno Mars, “Be Prepared” from “The Lion King,” “Zodiac” (a 1990 Israeli submission to Eurovision), and original compositions by group members. They perform at events around Chicagoland and organize singing tours in cities around the country. Their goal is to make their performances fun for everyone, so come check them out around campus! 

Run for Cover is the University of Chicago's award-winning all-male a cappella group. Founded in 2007 by five students, Run for Cover has since tripled in size, released two albums, and released a single last fall. This is their third time competing in ICCA and they are incredibly excited to share their work. When they aren't singing, Run for Cover can be found selling churros, their signature fundraiser, on campus and communicating through vine references. 

The Harmelodics is Northern Illinois University’s student-run all-female a cappella group founded in 2014. They have competed in ICCA since 2016, and have placed 2nd and 3rd at their 2017 and 2018 Quarterfinals. Last season, they received Outstanding Soloist and Outstanding Arrangement for their were awarded both outstanding soloist and outstanding arrangement on their set. Last year, they were one of eight groups invited to participate in the Voice Jam competition in Fayetteville, Ark., and walked away with an Outstanding Vocal Percussion award. In the fall of 2018, The Harmelodics participated in the first LocalVocal Chicago, where they had the chance to mingle with and perform alongside other collegiate and professional groups from the Midwest. Though they do a lot of competing, The Harmelodics also perform for NIU and the DeKalb community. They have performed for Take Back The Night, a movement against sexual violencem and were commissioned to perform a song at the closing ceremony for the Quilting for Human Rights exhibit on campus. In the community, The Harmelodics have sung at the DeKalb Women’s Center, the Ellwood House, and for the DeKalb city council. The Harmelodics is known for rocking Crocs and their iconic red pants. In rehearsal, they live for strong arrangements and making awesome music together. Outside rehearsal, they bond over their brand loyalty with Culver’s and Starbucks. The Harmelodics aim to inspire women in music and to break the boundaries of what a female a cappella group is expected to do. They strive to change the a cappella world with their innovative arrangements, powerful sound, and strong dedication. 

The Marquette Naturals, Marquette University’s premier all-male a cappella group, has grown exponentially since its establishment in 2003. In the 15 years since, The Naturals’ music has changed dramatically from a group of several college guys who simply wanted to get together and sing to a group of dedicated and hardworking musicians who strive for perfection. Offering intricate musical arrangements and energetic choreography, The Naturals have performed for audiences of all sizes, spreading their passion for music through the fun and unique sound of contemporary a cappella. Each year brings new events, videos, musical sounds, and now a chance to compete at the 2018 ICCA. 

The Ransom Notes is an all-gender a cappella group from the University of Chicago! The Notes have been a vocal presence for the past 21 years, most recently releasing their sixth studio album, Blueprint, in 2017. They can be found performing all over the UChicago campus, at local venues in Hyde Park and around Chicago, and biannually in venues all around America on their spring tour. They are a fun-loving group of musicians that loves one another as much as they love to sing. The Notes most enjoy performing in informal arch sings, teaching music workshops to high school students around the South Side during their annual Chicago Winter Tour, and singing carols at seasonal Holiday Markets. 

The Undertones is a 12-man a cappella group from the University of Notre Dame. The group was founded in 1996 by, as they called themselves back then, "five freshmen and a guy named Kirk." Each member of The Undertones, or Tones, as they call it, is also a member of the Notre Dame Glee Club, which focuses on more classical repertoire. However, in Tones, they’ve sung (and rapped) everything from Frank Sinatra to Kendrick Lamar. They pride themselves on striving for musical excellence while also maintaining a relaxed, fun spirit. This is The Undertones’ first ICCA and they can't wait to share the hard work they’ve put into their music. Tonight’s set, titled “The End of Love,” intends to show how they deal with a fading love and move on.



Amy J. Branahl has been teaching choral music for 15 years at the high school and middle school levels. Currently, she is a choral director at New Trier High School and artistic director of the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago (YCT), a community-based after-school program that enrolls 75 young people in Chicago’s North Shore. Amy graduated from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) with a B.M.E. and M.M.E. in choral music education. Amy remains involved in the contemporary a cappella scene as an adjudicator for the ICCA and ICHSA with Varsity Vocals, and as an active member of American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, and NafME. Amy and her husband have three beautiful boys and reside in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Best of luck to all the groups tonight! 

Edric Mitchell, a 2014 and 2016 graduate from Ball State University, studied musical theatre and executive development for public services. During his time at Ball State, he got his start in a cappella with the all-male group, Charlie's Angels. He quickly became a founding member of the all-male a cappella group, Note to Self, with whom he spent four years as a member, coordinator, and music director. In addition, Edric was a founding member and music director of Sedoctave, and founder of the Association of Collegiate A Cappella (ACA) at Ball State. ACA is an umbrella organization that unites all collegiate a cappella groups on the BSU Campus, and hopes to eventually expand to other college campuses. When Edric was a competitor in the ICCA, he received two Outstanding Arrangement awards for "Can You Stand The Rain" and "Recovery Stitches," as well as a Outstanding Soloist award with Walter Edwards for "Smash Your Apology." He is currently the vocal music director at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, Ind. 

Andrew M. Wallace is an avid arranger and composer and has explored numerous genres of music, from traditional choral music to contemporary a cappella, for over 15 years. After over 10 years of teaching music education on the North Shore suburbs of Illinois, Andrew is now the Director of Accounts for a marketing and advertising firm in the fitness and endurance industry. He received his Bachelor and Master of Music Education from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and serves as the Artist in Residence for the amazing Youth Choral Theatre of Wilmette, crafting original compositions and arrangements for them to premiere. Andrew has been the guest conductor for several music festivals, notably the 2013 Illinois Music Educators Association District VII Junior High Music Festival. Andrew also performs, directs, and arranges for a professional cabaret group in Chicago, The Chicago Red Line. 



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank 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 Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Sara Yood
Senior Producer

Helena Benthall
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Courtney Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Elise Hackl
 ICHSA Midwest & Southwest


Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West Producer

Riley McMahon
 ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Evan Powers
 ICHSA South Producer

Nicole Kohlweiss
 ICHSA Northeast 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 finishing groups advance to the ICCA Great Lakes Semifinal!



Find your favorite groups on The Best of College A Cappella (BOCA) and The Best of High School A Cappella (BOHSA), available for purchase on Apple Music and Amazon Music!





The International Championship
of A Cappella Open


Carnegie Hall
 Saturday, October 5, 2019