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 Auditorium Theatre
Saturday, March 16, 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.



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 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. Their newest album, Hijklmnog, is available on all streaming platforms and at their website,

The DJs is a fun-loving group of people with an intense passion for creating eye-opening (or perhaps ear-opening) music. Known for experimenting with all different types of genres and sounds, this incredibly close musical family thrives on pushing boundaries and trying new things, whether that ends with them discovering a great new song to arrange or doing yoga poses on the sides of West Virginia's cliffs. They are dedicated to musical excellence while fostering a fun and inclusive environment for their group members, audiences, and friends. 

Founded in the fall of 2008, State of Fifths is a 16-person co-ed a cappella group from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. They recently celebrated their 10th anniversary as a group and are known for creating innovative, heartfelt, and award-winning music. They spend their time performing around their campus and community and making memories as a family. State of Fifths is currently recording its next studio album, to be released in spring 2019, and they are ecstatic to share the next chapter in their legacy with you.

Gold Vibrations is a co-ed a cappella group from Oakland University (located in Rochester Hills, Mich.). The group was established in 2009 by a group of students with a passion and drive for creating and performing music. The members of Gold Vibrations are a diverse group of students. While the group does contain some of Oakland University's finest music students, most members in the group actually major in different fields. The members all have different focuses (both inside and outside of school), are different ages, and are in different years of their educational paths. 

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”

The Enchantments is the second-oldest acapella group at the University of Minnesota, and is the only all femme-identifying group today. They were founded in 2006 and have grown in number and musical style throughout the years. The Enchantments sing to redefine traditional all-female a cappella and perform powerful songs from all genres made famous by both men and women. They hope to empower women by singing songs like "God is a Woman" by Ariana Grande and "Fall in Line" by Christina Aguilera that encourage women to stand out and embrace their uniqueness. Besides competing in the ICCA, they perform at various events around the Midwest and host a biannual concert at the end of each semester. They also compete in Battle for the Vox, a competition between Minnesota and Wisconsin a cappella groups. They also support several charitable causes, such as The Aurora Center and The Walk to End Alzheimer's. The Enchantments are officially 1/8 gluten free and their mascot is a therapy dog named Andy Rottie. Their side quest is to save the bees. The Enchantments hope to encourage and inspire women everywhere to be strong and passionate in everything that they do. 

Pitches and Notes is UW-Madison's only competitive women's a cappella group. Singing a variety of popular music, Pitches and Notes is proud to represent a powerful and prevalent presence on campus, striving to entertain and empower. Along with biannual showcases, Pitches and Notes regularly performs around the UW-Madison campus and larger community for various events. Additionally, the group has participated in ICCA, travels for annual tours, and creates studio recordings. The group's newest EP, Empower, was released on Apple Music and Spotify in August 2018. 

Basses Wild is the premier men's a cappella ensemble at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. They perform a wide variety of boppin' tunes that are sure to get your boogie on and set your feet a-dancin'. They’re rockin' the oldies, rollin' the latest hits, and wooing the ladies (and gentlemen) everywhere with their oh-so-sultry songs of love. They strive to show that you do not need to be studying music in school in order to create it beautifully.



Erin Forrest has been a choral music educator for seven years and currently teaches both vocal and general music at Lincoln Hall Middle School in Lincolnwood, Ill. She earned her master’s degree in music education from VanderCook College of Music and her bachelor’s degree in choral music education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the University of Illinois, Erin spent multiple years as a member and music director of the co-ed a cappella group, No Comment A Cappella. She has many years of experience directing and arranging for high school a cappella ensembles and continues to arrange music for groups at both the high school and collegiate levels. 

Elise Hackl is a music educator in the suburbs of Chicago, who fell in love with a cappella in her undergrad as a member of Secondary Dominance. Having earned bachelor's degrees in music education and special education (Illinois State University ‘14) and a master's degree in educational leadership (Concordia University Chicago ‘17), Elise was awarded the Illinois State Board of Education’s "Those Who Excel" award of merit for her work in music curriculum development. Elise is currently in the home stretch of graduate coursework in music education, with her thesis focusing on inclusivity training for music educators and providing successful inclusion within the music classroom. In addition to her full-time job, Elise is the director for Modern Melodies a cappella, director of Big Deal Productions’ Broadway and Choral Buddies programs, and music director of the Crescendo Barbershop Chorus through the Metropolis Performing Arts Center. A freelance arranger and clinician, Elise also teaches private voice lessons and assists with solo and ensemble throughout the state of Illinois. In her spare time, she loves judging Varsity Vocals events and writing raps for adaptive musical theatre groups. 

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. 

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 the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (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. 

Sean Patrick Riley has worked for CASA on the social media and talent teams for ACappellaFest, SoJam, LAAF, and BOSS, and has served in CASA's ambassador program for the past seven years. He holds a bachelor's degree in both music and communication, as well as a master’s degree in nursing from Saint Louis University. At SLU, Sean served as music director and business manager of recent ICCA Finalists, The Bare Naked Statues, and was featured on the Voices Only and BOCA compilations. Sean coaches a cappella groups across the country, and is the camp nurse and counselor for the L.A.-based summer camp, A Cappella Academy. He currently lives in New York and works in the surgical ICU at NYU Langone Medical Center. 



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 placing group advances to the 2019 ICCA Finals!



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