Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 24th 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 660 groups and more than 10,000 singers at 90 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 were also the subject of the TV docu-series "Sing It On," which followed 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 three 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 fourth 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 24 years ago, and we can’t wait to see where our 2020 season will take 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



DeKalb High School
Friday, January 24th, 2020



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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 four 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 at The Town Hall in New York City on Saturday, April 18th.

The high school tournament is now in its 15th year and continues to grow every year. We are now holding Quarterfinal rounds in all of our regions, and the 2020 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 on Saturday, April 17th.

The Open Tournament celebrated its third year in summer 2019 and featured six Semifinals that lead to the Open Finals featuring those six Regional Champions, two Wild Card Champions, and our 2019 ICHSA and ICCA Champions. Those 10 groups competed in October 2019 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

 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.



Founded last year, CYC Out! came together to celebrate a shared love of singing a cappella music. This group of sophomores from Clinton High School meets before school two to three times per week, plus any spare time that they can find, to rehearse and put together this a cappella sound. This year, all of their pieces are arranged by members of the group. They hope you enjoy their set! 

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

Enharmonic Fusion is a mixed a cappella ensemble from DeKalb High School in DeKalb, Ill.  Established in 2010, they advanced to ICHSA Finals in their first year of existence and went on to do so again in 2012, 2015, and 2016. In 2017, they were named Midwest Semifinal Champions and placed 2nd overall at the ICHSA Finals. When not rehearsing or performing, they enjoy spending free time getting ice-cream and listening to a cappella jams. They also enjoy hearing Mr. Erikson gently remind them to clean up their water bottles and music binders. They would like to send a huge thanks to everyone who helped them prepare for this event and to their friends and family for support. They would also like to thank Varsity Vocals for the opportunity to participate and wish the best of luck to the other contestants! 

Founded in the fall of 2017, Gold Standard is in its third year at Buffalo Grove High School. Gold Standard includes 18 men, ranging from freshman through seniors. Gold Standard is very excited to compete with ICHSA once again. 

Bartlett High School's Hawkappella is the only a cappella group at BHS and the only competing a cappella group in their school district. They only get to rehearse once per week and work hard to make sure their performances are top-notch! Although they take their work seriously, they pride themselves on being kind and having fun while doing so. Hawkapella is excited to perform at ICHSA! 

Founded in the fall of 2018, Major Detour is in its second year at Buffalo Grove High School. The group is made up of six members, ranging from sophomores through seniors.  Major Detour is very excited to compete with ICHSA once again, after finishing as Quarterfinal Champions in 2019. 

Founded in the fall of 2017, Modern Melodies is in its third year at Buffalo Grove High School. Modern Melodies includes 17 women, ranging from freshman through seniors. Modern Melodies is very excited to compete with ICHSA once again. 

Nothin' But Treble is an all-woman student-led a cappella group that performs everything from pop and rock to jazz and R&B. These ladies come from Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill., and are often found eating snacks, enjoying bonding sessions, and performing at Loyola's choir concerts. 

Vocal Point is an all-treble a cappella ensemble from Lockport Township High School. Vocal Point was formed in January 2018 and has been performing regularly at LTHS since. This group focuses on the genres of contemporary pop, indie, R&B, and jazz literature. Vocal Point is composed of 17 treble voices and one vocal percussionist. This is the group's first year competing and they are very excited to share their music with a wider audience. 

Voices of Harlem is the premier a cappella group at Harlem High School.  An extracurricular group that meets multiple times a week after school, it is the most exclusive and rigorous group available at Harlem High School. Voices participates in many activities throughout the year in addition to their school concerts, including community performance tours and a cappella competitions.



Amy J. Branahl has been teaching choral music for 15 years at the high school and middle school levels. Currently, she is a choral director at New Trier High School and artistic director of the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago (YCT), a community-based after-school program that enrolls 75 young people in Chicago’s North Shore. Amy graduated from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) with a B.M.E. and M.M.E. in choral music education. Amy remains involved in the contemporary a cappella scene as an adjudicator for the ICCA and ICHSA with Varsity Vocals, and as an active member of American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, and NafME. Amy and her husband have three beautiful boys and reside in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Best of luck to all the groups tonight! 

Lena Burke received a bachelor’s degree in music from Northern Illinois University and is teaching elementary general music at Hillcrest Elementary School in Elgin, Ill.. Lena performed with the all-female a cappella group, The Harmelodics, from 2014-2017 and continued to work with them as a guest clinician after her time at NIU. While acting as music director for the group, she received the award for Outstanding Arrangement at the 2017 ICCA Great Lakes Semifinals. In addition to her teaching, she runs an extracurricular choral program for 4th-6th grade students and sings with the professional choir, Cor Cantiamo, in DeKalb, Ill. 

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. 

Lee Stovall currently teaches choir for the South Milwaukee school district, where he directs the award-winning a cappella groups, Delta V and The Poprockets, who recently released their debut album, Keep Myself. A founding member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison a cappella group, Fundamentally Sound, he has been interested in promoting contemporary a cappella education since college, and keeps busy arranging and coaching for groups around the world. He recently arranged for "Broadway Goes A Cappella 3" at Feinstein's/54 Below in New York City to rave reviews. Lee's work has earned ICCA awards and Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs), as well as spots on BOCA and BOHSA compilations. He has attended seminars with The Vocal Company and Vocomotion studios, volunteered for SingStrong Chicago and A Cappella Fest, and judged for Varsity Vocals, CARAs, and the AVAs. Lee has also worked with Camp A Cappella, directing ensembles from the middle school to collegiate levels, and is a board member of A Cappella University. Outside of the contemporary a cappella world, Lee sings with two professional classical ensembles, The Madison Choral Project and Present Music Milwaukee. 

Colleen Sye has been singing in choirs and chamber groups for many years, and began performing a cappella music in the Buffalo Grove High School champion show choir, The Expressions. Her love of music continued into her time at Monmouth College, where she studied music education and started the school's first all-female a cappella group, The Sassy Lassies. Colleen currently teaches choir at Algonquin Middle School, where she directs three choirs, an a cappella group, and a spring musical!



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Angel Smith, Travis Erikson, Brian Allen, Alex Sheafor and Audio Max Productions, Jordan Smart, Kate Morton, Robert Tyree Photo, The NIU Huskie Hunks, Emily Flanders, Rob Blumstein, Robin Hackl, and the entire DeKalb High School Team; 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

Patty Floyd

Virginia DeMoss
 Album Production Coordinator

Sara Yood
Senior Producer

Courtney Jensen
 Associate Producer

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Bronwyn Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Gemma Davies
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Christopher Witham
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Holly Hayes
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Elise Hackl
 PA/MA Program Coordinator  
ICHSA Great Lakes, Midwest, & Southwest Producer

Matt Shirer
 ICHSA West 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 placing groups will advance to the ICHSA 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


FALL 2020