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, March 2, 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 #harmonics from Guilford High School are happy to be back again competing at ICHSA! They have been around for four years now and competing at Quarterfinals is the highlight of their year! Besides competing, they perform in local events around the Rockford area, as well as in school performances. They hope you enjoy their set!

Formed in 2009, Business Casual is an auditioned mixed a cappella group that performs for the school and community. The group is also a crucial component of the school’s recruiting efforts, as they perform for their feeder schools each year to promote the choir program. Business Casual’s repertoire focuses primarily on popular music from the 1950s and forward. This is their first year competing in ICHSA! 

Echo Effect is an all-male ensemble that considers itself more of a rock band than an a cappella group. Mixing a variety of genres and styles into their performance package, they wow and inspire audiences with their clean harmony and longing melodies. After winning two consecutive ICHSA Quarterfinals, they are excited for this upcoming performance and competition season. 

Hawkappella is a mixed a cappella group from Bartlett High School in Bartlett, Ill.! The group meets twice a week after school and consists of students in grades nine through 12. The group prides itself on teamwork and having a passion for music! They love performing at ICHSA and seeing all of the other incredible groups because they learn so much every year! Wish them luck on their third time competing! 

High Fidelity is an all-female a cappella group with the perfect range of pitch and personality. With their precise rhythm, exciting harmony, and stunning stage presence, HiFi captivates their audiences with their emotional dedication. After placing in the top three groups and winning Outstanding Soloist and Outstanding Choreography at last year’s ICHSA Semifinals, High Fidelity is thrilled to continue their tradition of excellence with this season’s performances. 

Incognito is an extracurricular group from Mayville High School in Mayville, Wis. This is their fourth year of competition and their fifth year of existence. The group name comes from the very first group, which met in secret for months on their own time with the director before springing some numbers on the public in one of the last concerts of the year. 

Maximum Forte is an auditioned co-curricular ensemble from Charleston High School devoted to performing an eclectic repertoire of music, ranging in genre from madrigals to contemporary pop/jazz arrangements. Under the direction of Juliane Sharp, the group was invited to sing as main stage performers at the Kettering National A Cappella Festival in Ohio and performed a series of concerts in the Nashville/Memphis area at venues including the Country Music Hall of Fame and Graceland. They also recorded at the famed RCA Studio B. In addition to their active performance schedule, this competitive ensemble placed 3rd in the 2018 ICHSA Quarterfinals in St. Louis, taking the award for Outstanding Choreography. This year, the group will be seen performing at a variety of events throughout the central Illinois area, including opening for the L.A.-based a cappella group, m-pact, at Eastern Illinois University in September and will be featured at the Coles County Youth in Harmony Festival at Eastern Illinois University in October. 

Mod 21 is the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy 18-strong a cappella group! In a place where STEM is emphasized, they want to show how musically talented their students are! They work to spread appreciation for a cappella around the IMSA campus and their community by creating original pieces and arrangements and showcasing them at cultural shows and campus events. IMSA is a diverse school, and Mod 21 sees to celebrate that diversity through their music. 

Off The Record is a group of 16 musicians pushing the limits of what contemporary a cappella can do. These talented students tell stories in their performances that aim to entertain and engage any audience. Hailing from Lockport Township High School, Off The Record performs regularly in the Southwest suburbs and within the Lockport Community. Now in their third year of existence and second year of competition, Off The Record is ready to make a splash in the a cappella world. They would continue, but the rest is Off The Record. 

VCR, otherwise known as Vocal Chords Required, is an all-male group for the very first time. They hail from Urbana High School in the heart of the University of Illinois' campus town. They like to have pow wows after concerts with talking sticks to make sure that everyone can speak and everyone is heard. They like to talk about their feelings and sing at the top of their lungs.



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. 

Cory Ellis is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, where he studied music education, performance, and music industry leadership. He is a founding member and former music director of The NIU Huskie Hunks, the first all-male a cappella group on campus. Cory helped lead The Hunks to perform at the VoiceJam A Cappella Festival in Arkansas, as well as the NACC in Tennessee. In addition to his a cappella contributions to NIU, Cory was the head drum major of The Pride of the Midwest, the Huskie Marching Band, and an arranger and member of the world-renowned NIU World Steelband, which recently performed at Symphony Center in Chicago. 

Daniel Fister is a doctoral candidate at Washington University in St. Louis studying musicology. He earned his undergraduate degree at Chapman University in vocal performance and music history and his master’s degree at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music in music history. He has presented and written on collegiate a cappella, musical theatre, and other American music. Before his life as an academic, he directed, sang, and arranged for Wilsonville High School’s Soul’d Out, leading them to the 2010 ICHSA Finals, and went on to participate just as actively in 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. 

Cristian Larios is a composer, conductor, vocalist, and educator from Joliet, Ill. He graduated from Illinois State University with bachelor’s degrees in music education and music composition. During his time at ISU, he was an active member of The Illinois State Acafellaz, where he actively arranged and collaborated with other ISU groups to make a name for Illinois State. His music has been performed by the Bolingbrook's VIBE, Secondary Dominance, The Acafellaz, Illinois State Madrigals, The No-Name Chorale, SWIC Chamber Singers, and has been featured at the REDNote New Music Festival. Larios has also collaborated with the School of Theatre and Dance and Kristin Schoenback on Ellen Mclaughin’s Oedipus. Cristian enjoys the collaborative process and is always looking for new adventures and challenges. 

Aubrey Malito is delighted to be judging these talented groups! Aubrey attended Illinois State University for musical theatre and music business, and served as music director for the women’s a cappella group, Secondary Dominance. After graduation, Aubrey performed in musicals and cabarets in New York, and worked in house management for six Broadway shows. She continued to arrange a cappella music, and even was commissioned by the cast of “Jersey Boys” to arrange a piece for their Hall & Oates concert to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Since returning to Chicago, Aubrey has been an active performer and teacher. She recently graduated summa cum laude from Saint Xavier University with a degree in choral music education, and has gone on to direct choirs, musical theatre voice, and theatre at high schools across Chicago, including Whitney M. Young, Plainfield South, Carl Sandburg, and Marist High Schools. She also maintains a private voice and piano studio. Aubrey is represented by Lily’s Talent.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Riley Naughton, Jake Hackl, The ISU Acafellaz, Nick Benson, and the entire staff at the Center for Performing Arts, as well as Adam McNeil, Andrew Jacobs, and the ISU a cappella community for making this event possible 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 ICHSA Midwest 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