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



Vernon Hills High School
Saturday, February 16, 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.



The Loyola Acafellas are stationed in Wilmette, Ill. Not only are they dedicated singers, but they put their hearts and souls into their music. They aim not only to sound good, but to tell a story and fully engage their audiences into their performances. The Acafellas aren’t just classmates, but brothers, and their close bond is easily sensed from the synergy of their voices and their compatible tones. These musicians work hard in order to have fun and make great music. 

Founded in the fall of 2017, Gold Standard is in its second year at Buffalo Grove High School. Gold Standard includes 16 men, ranging from freshman through seniors. Gold Standard is very excited to compete in its very first ICHSA. 

Tonal Eclipse is a mixed group consisting of 14 fun, loving, and creative members. The variety of their music, tones, and styles create a completely unique group and experience. Always feeding off of their audience’s energy and positive vibes, they are guaranteed to rock the stage! 

Founding in the fall of 2018, Major Detour is in its very first year at Buffalo Grove High School. The group includes six members, ranging from sophomores through seniors. Major Detour is thrilled to join the a cappella program at Buffalo Grove and is very excited to embark on this new era, competing in its first ICHSA. 

Nothin’ But Treble is Loyola Academy’s all-female a cappella group. This particular group of girls loves to spread joy by singing throughout their community and school. They have participated in ICHSA for the past three years, and enjoy singing for different school and for service outings. Nothin’ But Treble prides itself on their love for making music and excellent repertoire. 

Treble In Paradise is making its debut ICHSA appearance. They are honored to be part of this experience and to perform alongside so many other great groups from the Midwest division. Treble In Paradise is composed of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and they rehearse three days a week during their lunch period. Treble In Paradise is a fun, smart, and dedicated group of young women who are excited to share their inaugural ICHSA performance with you tonight. 

Voices of Harlem is the premier a cappella group of Harlem High School. The group includes some of the highest talent in the school, under the direction of choir teacher Cory Schreiner. Each year, they perform at school concerts and tour the community, bringing music and cheer to all that hear them! 

The Accidentals is an 18-member, auditioned, a cappella vocal group based out of Arcadia High School in the small town of Arcadia, Wis. With students ranging from freshmen through seniors, this group has truly become a family, even though half of their group is new this year. The group is directed by Pam Siewert. The cool thing about this group is that even though they are all involved in different activities, they all come together to harmonize as one!  They are called The Accidentals because they always look SHARP, their singing is a NATURAL talent, and their personalities are never FLAT.



Sharon Cho is a jazz vocalist, session artist, and instructional coach from Chicago, Ill. Sharon grew up with deep cultural influences from Korean folk music, which she applies to her jazz studies and research in Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. Since moving to Nashville, Sharon received a Grammy for her background vocalist role in Tajmo, a collaborative album by Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’, which won Best Contemporary Blues Album of the Year. She recorded lead vocals for two feature films with LoudMono Productions and sang for Hans Zimmer during the 2017 Hans Zimmer Live on Tour, providing background vocals for film scores including “Dark Knight,” “Inception,” “Lion King,” “Wonder Woman,” and more. In addition, she serves as a vocal pedagogy and health coach for professional Artists in Nashville. She combines her performance and instructional coaching background to bridge the relationship between academia and music. Sharon currently serves as a Teacher Coach and Content Developer for Quaver, the world leader of music education for students in grades pre-K through eight. Previously, she served as an AP music theory, AICE chemistry, and piano teacher for Metro Nashville Public Schools. Sharon also served as an instructional coach and Advanced Academics Resource Teacher within that district, working with their Gifted and Talented program. 

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 National A Cappella Convention (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. 

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. 

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. 

Kimberly Raschka Sailor is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (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.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Jeremy Little, Vernon Hills High School a Cappella and Staff, John Fischl, Adam McNeil, Riley Naughton, Robin, Tim, Jake, and Rebecca Hackl, Sydney Canon, Robert Tyree Photography, the ISU Acafellaz, Alex Sheafor of Audio Max productions, and the District 128 staff 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