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



Southwest Christian High School
Saturday, February 23, 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.



Lakeville South High School’s Encore is conducted by Julie A. Brott. A member of the South Suburban Conference, Lakeville South High School is located Lakeville, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. Encore is a curricular class that meets daily during the early bird 7:00 a.m. class period. The group performs various genres, including classical, madrigal, seasonal, jazz, and pop/rock. Every other year, the school’s choirs take an overseas performance tour, and Encore has been able to sing at spectacular European venues, including the Salzburg Cathedral, the Munich Cathedral, Fisherman’s Bastion, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, the Vatican, and the Amphitheater in Pompeii. Encore members regularly perform at community events, at home concerts, and at corporate events. Last year, they sang for a cancer fundraiser with Kat Perkins (from “The Voice!”). They have also been fortunate enough to host Home Free during their tour. Encore singers are members of the school’s larger choir, the Concert Chorale, and they perform seasonal music with the Minnesota Orchestra at Hosanna Lutheran Church. Encore members have participated in the All-State Chorus and numerous honor choirs. More information about Lakeville South’s strong choir program can be found at

Harmonix is an all-female vocal ensemble from Jordan High School. They come together twice a week to create music that uplifts, inspires, and encourages young women to be confident, strong, and fearless. This is their second year of existence and second year competing in ICHSA. 

Minor Details is an auditioned group that has evolved from small groups in this school over several years. They perform original a cappella arrangements from various genres, from pop to classical. The group includes members from grades nine through 12, and is excited to be back for their second ICHSA appearance! 

The Octettes is an auditioned group of girls in grades 11 and 12. Starting in 2016, this group has performed throughout their community for concerts and private events. These have been their primary gigs so far and they are excited for new opportunities. 

Out of the Blue is a 16-member a cappella group from Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School. With the popularity of a cappella, this group was formed at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year in hopesog giving students more opportunities to perform outside of the curricular choirs. They are scheduled to perform at least seven different times throughout the school year, and this will be their second time performing at the ICHSA. They are so excited for the opportunity to perform for you tonight!   

The BSM Red Knotes is in its third year of existence and is directed by Adam Petroski.They perform all around the metro area at corporate events, parties, fall festivals, and recently sang the national anthem at a Timberwolves game! 

The Accidentals is a student-founded a cappella group that began in the fall of 2015 in Southwest Christian High School in Chaska, Minn. After a successful first season on campus, the group became an official part of the SWCHS music department and curriculum. Besides the obvious musical connotation, the group's name refers to how it started almost "by accident" on the whims of a few students who wanted to sing in an a cappella group and began asking around for others to join. The Accidentals were ICHSA Semifinalists in 2018. 

The Funky Hunks is a brand new group to Chi Hi. This is their inaugural year of having an auditioned men's a cappella group and they are excited to see where it goes from here. The group is composed of seven very different singers who love to make music and put on a show!

Tonal Recall comes from Shell Lake, Wis. Shell Lake is a small town on beautiful Shell Lake, right in the heart of vacation land. Tonal Recall is in its fourth year of existence and second year of competition. The group prides itself on singing close, jazz-influenced harmonies with a funky flair. Tonal Recall has performed for local events, and are excited for more opportunities as their popularity and fame continue to grow.



Barry Bakunowicz has been an active member of the a cappella community throughout his musical career, performing with groups including The UW MadHatters and UW-Eau Claire's Fifth Element. In addition to singing and arranging for his a cappella groups, he studied music in college and has been involved in a variety of musical opportunities. He was a singer/dancer in the touring troupe, Kids From Wisconsin, and a cast member in many musical and operatic productions. Currently, Barry is a member of Minneapolis-based a cappella group, Due North, winners of the 2018 Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes. 

From the moment he hit campus, Kaynen Harris fell in love with the a cappella scene in Eau Claire and has never looked back since. In his four-year stint as a member of The Innocent Men, Kaynen served as music director and then business manager for the seven-member all-male group. During his time with The Innocent Men, Kaynen helped the group earn two consecutive Audience Favorite awards at the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes. Kaynen also assisted in the groups return from a five-year hiatus of studio recording with contributions on the group's most recent album, Identity. Upon graduation, Kaynen remained in the a cappella scene, briefly joining the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (RARB) team as an album reviewer, continuing as an arranger for UWEC groups, and helping found a new professional group in the Twin Cities area, Due North. In their first two years, Due North has gone on to sign with two national agencies (GL Berg Entertainment and Bass/Schuler Entertainment) and continues to perform at fairs, festivals, corporate events, and colleges all over the Midwest. The group was crowned 2018 Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes Champions and brought home the Audience Favorite award as well. With a background in sound engineering and a love for the a cappella scene, nothing will keep Kaynen from performing, critiquing, and recording a cappella throughout his future. 

Kimberly Raschka Sailor is the current Editor-in-Chief of 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 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (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, where she also sings with the Mount Horeb Chorale. This is Kimberly's 14th year adjudicating for Varsity Vocals. 

During his junior and senior years at the University of Minnesota, Avery Wong was a baritone and arranger for both 7days A Cappella and Basses Wild Men’s A Cappella. He has continued to arrange for those groups since 2015, along with the female group, The Enchantments. Avery has musical hobbies in addition to a cappella, including being an accompanist for classical vocal performers and picnic operettas.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Curtis Kettler, Jason Wipf, Alex Sheafor of Audio Max productions, and the entire team at Southwest Christian High School 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