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



Vernon Hills High School
Sunday, January 26th, 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.



Acafellas is the all-male group from Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill. These guys cover everything from pop to R&B. They are often found belting out their songs in the practice room, collaborating with Nothin' But Treble, and serenading the school with their smooth tone. 

Gold Nation (formerly Vocal Force) is from Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Ill. Established in the fall of 2018, Gold Nation is currently in its second year of existence. Students audition in the fall, and members range from freshmen to Seniors. The ensemble rehearses one to two days a week, plus a few Saturdays. Gold Nation performs a cappella, as well as contemporary pop and vocal jazz music, throughout the school year. They are excited to hear all of the groups perform today and wish everyone the best of luck! They hope you enjoy their show. 

Graftonics is a contemporary a cappella group from Grafton High School in Grafton, Wis. They are an auditioned extracurricular group of freshman to senior students. This is their sixth year competing in ICHSA and last year they took 3rd place in the Midwest Semifinal. Graftonics is excited to return to the ICHSA stage to perform with all the other talented groups they have met throughout the years in this competition. 

Incognito...that's it. Okay, not really. Incognito is a 15-member group that meets outside of school during any free time that they can find and this is their fifth ICHSA season. Their name comes from the first iteration of the group practicing in secrecy. Featuring all grades, from freshman to seniors, half of the current group is brand-new and they are excited to see what this year brings for them. 

Key Change is Wilmot Union High School’s very own a cappella group! This is their second year in existence and they are so excited to be back at ICHSA. Everyone from Key Change loves getting together to make music, and are especially thrilled to perform for  you once again. Thank you for your support! 

Founded in the fall of 2017, Minor Renovation is in its third year at Buffalo Grove High School. Minor Renovation has 18 members, ranging from sophomores through seniors. They are very excited to compete in the ICHSA once again. 

Off The Record from Lockport Township High School is a group of 18 dedicated, talented, and fun-loving musicians intent on creating the best contemporary high school a cappella music in the Chicagoland area. With creative arrangements, focused choreography, and emotional depth, Off The Record aims to provide each audience a performance that they will not soon forget. 

Reign is an all-male a cappella group from the great state of Iowa. Hailing from the land of hawkeyes and cyclones, the gentlemen of Reign are happy to be returning to ICHSA, in which they typically compete every two years. Four years ago, they earned 3rd place at the Midwest Semifinals, and in 2018, they earned 4th place in the Midwest Quarterfinals. Blending together current and classic tunes, Reign loves to entertain the students of Valley High School with sweet melodies, awesome harmonies, a splash of fun, and occasional “organized movement” of a certain quality.  A fixture in West Des Moines, the group enjoys entertaining audiences of all ages throughout the community. They are blessed to be sharing a stage with such fantastic groups from the region and they hope that you enjoy the performance.   

Tonal Eclipse is a mixed group consisting of 15 fun-loving and creative members. They perform a variety of music, tones, and styles and always feed off their audience’s energy and positive vibes. They are excited to rock the stage tonight! 

Treble Threat is in its first year at Buffalo Grove High School, founded in the fall of 2019.  Treble Threat has 12 members, freshman through seniors. Treble Threat is very excited to be joining the BGHS A Cappella program and to be competing in ICHSA for the first time.



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. 

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. 

Samantha Noga began her a cappella career in 2007 and has continued performing, arranging, and music directing ever since. She attended Illinois Wesleyan University and received a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance. There, she sang with the female a cappella group, Touch of Class, and the co-ed a cappella group, Silence Interrupted. She arranged music for both groups, was music director for Silence Interrupted, and competed in four seasons of ICCA. Outside of the a cappella world, Samantha has studied and performed a variety of musical styles including opera, musical theatre, gospel, choral, early music, and jazz. She also teaches private voice lessons and has worked with high schools as a vocal coach and conductor.

Michelle Schrier is currently earning her Master of Music in musicology at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis last May, where she majored in music and sang with the co-ed a cappella group The Amateurs for four years. During her time with the group, she competed in ICCA three times (twice advancing to the Semifinals) and competed in VoiceJam once (with the group winning Best Arrangement). She co-music-directed The Amateurs for two years and helped with the release of their 2018 studio album Infrared. She continues to sing at Northwestern in the all-graduate-student group The Keynotes. 

Alexandra Wheatland is a graduate of University of Illinois, where she was a music education major. As a student, she sang with The Illinois Rip Chords, competing in ICCA for all four years. With The Rip Chords, Alexandra served as an arranger, soloist, and vocal percussionist, as well as acting music director for two years. She currently teaches music at Ivy Hill Elementary School.



Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank John Fischl, Jeremy Little, Kevin Phlean, the Vernon Hills High School theater technicians and fine arts team, Vernon Hills High School a Cappella, Alex Sheafor and Audio Max Productions, Robert Tyree Photo, Jordan Smart, Emily Flanders, Rob Blumstein, Robin Hackl, and The ISU Acafellaz; 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