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



Illinois State University
Saturday, February 23, 2019



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 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.



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, performs anywhere, from coffeehouses and football stadiums to singing for group meetings, company dinners, social gatherings, weddings, university events, international competitions, and more. 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”’s most recent winner, Home Free. FS conveys both passion and fun in every performance, creating a musically diverse and entertaining atmosphere for their audiences. 

The ISU Clef Hangers is a mixed a cappella group on the campus of Illinois State University. They had their 10-Year anniversary concert in spring 2018 and are incredibly proud of how far they have come! They have competed in ICCA twice before and are excited to be back. When they’re not busy cracking jokes or having a friendly banter, the colorful sounds they produce with their voices reverberate throughout the room, creating beautiful music of all varieties. Outside of rehearsal, The Clef Hangers love to grab food together, whether at a restaurant, or most likely (and probably 90% of the time), at ISU’s Watterson Dining Commons. They also love to “spot” their fellow members on campus using Snapchat, catching them walking by or studying for a class. This group is one big happy family, and they’re always ready tackle anything that’s thrown at them! Their motto comes from “A Goofy Movie” and they always stand by it: “Maybe Love is The Reason Why”!

Formed in the desolate cornfields of DeKalb, Ill. in the fall of 2011, The Northern Illinois University Huskie Hunks have a storied history of male vocal athletics. Currently made up of 14 unique members, with majors ranging from biology to deep sea shrimp farming, The Hunks have one goal in common: to rock their audiences’ pants off with electric harmonies and robotically precise choreography. In their free time, these Hunky gentlemen love to spot each others’ deadlifts, eat way too much Vinny’s pizza, and have totally-not-weird sleepovers.

No Strings Attached is the principal co-ed jazz a cappella group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a 16-member undergraduate RSO, No Strings Attached was founded in 1994 by students from a campus theatre group. Since then, they have recorded five albums, taken 2nd place in the 1997 ICCA Finals at Carnegie Hall, and performed all over North America, from the Midwest to New York to Montreal. Although they specialize in jazz, they’re known for their wide variety of music, which ranges from choral masterpieces to jazz standards. Although their members pursue a variety of majors, all of the Strings are dedicated and talented musicians. 

On The Brink of Normal started out at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. almost 10 years ago as a strictly vocal jazz group with about six voices and a stand-up bass. Since then, OTBON has evolved into an a cappella group that makes a point to include some jazz arrangements in their repertoire to honor those roots. They now hold between 15 and 18 voices and perform many other genres, from pop to rock to movie soundtrack songs. Some of their favorite artists to cover are Panic! At The Disco, Frank Sinatra, Amy Winehouse, Queen, and Britney Spears. They also keep it fresh with more obscure songs, such as the “Mii Channel Music” (the background music when making Miis on a Wii game system), “It’s Just a Greasy Spoon” (from “Spongebob Squarepants”), and “I Will Always Think of You” (a jazz duet from Netflix’s “Bojack Horseman”). In the past, OTBON has included tap dancing and sign language in their performances to show that their talented members can do more than just sing. They perform at ceremonies, galas, fundraisers, and more! They are a passionate group of hard-working, enthusiastic ISU students and they’re ready to compete in their first ICCA! 

Established in 2004, Secondary Dominance is ISU's premier female a cappella group. These women come from different backgrounds and have many different interests, but share a passion for music and strive to push the boundaries of all-female a cappella. SD has been competing in ICCA for over a decade. In 2018, they placed 2nd at their Quarterfinal and became the only group in ISU’s a cappella history to advance to Semifinals. These gals aim to achieve the highest level of musicality, but don't skimp out on the fun. You can always find them around campus using their patented "SD Voice" or making up punny names for their repertoire to keep rehearsals lighthearted. 

The Illinois Rip Chords is a 15-member all-female group hailing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since 1992, they have dedicated their lives to singing harmoniously and bringing beautiful melodies to audiences all over. With a repertoire and personalities ranging from quiet and beautiful to sassy and soulful, The Illinois Rip Chords have something for everyone. This group of women bonds not only over their love for music, but also their love for performing, friendship and fun! They couldn’t be happier to be back at ICCA this year to perform, enjoy other group’s music, and above all, to have an unforgettable experience. 

The Iowa Hawkapellas is the University of Iowa's only all-female a cappella group. The group members have different musical backgrounds, majors, and interests, but all share a love of music! They perform primarily contemporary pop music all over Iowa City and its surrounding areas. They have previously competed at the ICCA in Madison, Wis. and St. Louis, Mo. and have had a blast getting to perform alongside such talented and passionate musicians! 

Touch of Class is Illinois Wesleyan University's premier all-female a cappella group. Since 2004, Touch of Class has delighted audiences at a variety of campus events, concerts, and local gigs within the communities of Bloomington and Normal, Ill. This ensemble is an auditioned group with 12 to 18 female-identifying members, spanning various ages and majors. The members of Touch of Class take pride in representing female empowerment at IWU and in the community, and they are excited to bring that to this ICCA season. Touch of Class a cappella features a whole lot of talent, some good ol' harmony, and just a touch of class!



Eion Blanchard hails from piano and vocal jazz, but broke into a cappella during his undergraduate years at the University of Florida, where he spent two years arranging for and directing No Southern Accent. Eion then co-founded Gestalt and served as music director for its first two seasons (#dvdp). Under Eion's tenure, Gestalt was named an ICCA Quarterfinal Champion and runner-up for ICCA South Semifinals, SoJam XV, Boston Sings (BOSS) 2018, and the 2018 National A Cappella Convention (NACC). Gestalt broke records at the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs) garnering 11 nominations with its debut album, Beyond The Archetype, and winning multiple. Since graduating from Gestalt, Eion has stayed involved in the a cappella scene by leading masterclasses and now judging for Varsity Vocals, all while pursuing his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Deepak Kumar entered the a cappella community as a freshman at the University of Michigan, when he joined Maize Mirchi A Cappella, the South Asian a cappella group on campus. Throughout his time in college, he became heavily involved in a cappella, both within the context of Mirchi and in the greater Michigan a cappella scene. He joined the Michigan A Cappella Council (MACC) executive board in order to enable a stronger sense of community across groups at the university. As a member of Maize Mirchi, he pushed the group to invest more in the a cappella community. As music director, Deepak aimed put Maize Mirchi on the map as a group that could bring South Asian a cappella to major venues (like the ICCA) and still create relatable and enjoyable musical experiences. Throughout college, he wrote arrangements for other college groups (UMD Anokha) and high school groups across the country, and continues to arrange for groups on request. Deepak is excited at the opportunity to be a judge for this ICCA season. 

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 Illinois State, Nick Benson, The ISU Acafellaz (host), 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 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