Welcome to Varsity Vocals’ 28th season! Our enthusiasm for the art of a cappella is greater than ever after more than 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, this year featuring more than 650 groups and over 10,000 singers at 85 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 cinematic musical series of all time.

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 skills and relationships.

We provide insightful 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.  

We have seen a cappella make great strides from where it began on our stage 28 years ago and we can’t wait to see how our 2024 competitors push the envelope. Committed to promoting our singers and energized by the incredible music they create, we look forward to another memorable season. Thank you for joining us!


Amanda Newman
Executive Director



Illinois State University
Saturday, February 24th, 2024


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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 27th.

The high school tournament is now in its 19th year. 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 26th.

 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 ten 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.


Blue Fusion is making their debut this season as Eastern Illinois University's premier all-gender a cappella group. Founded in 2023, Blue Fusion is composed of 13 passionate performers majoring in various undergraduate studies, including education, interpersonal communications, pre-med, and criminology. Along with making their debut in this competition, Blue Fusion is committed to sharing their love of music within the university and surrounding communities through sporting events, charity endeavors, and holiday celebrations. The group is excited to present audiences with a fusion of genres, rich harmonies, powerful choreography, and some sick beats. 

The Xtension Chords is an all-male competitive a cappella group composed of strapping young gentlemen. For nearly 30 years, the group has provided audiences with tight harmonies, smooth choreography, and good looks. They perform all over the UIUC campus, at private events and public concerts, and all over the Midwest for audiences of all ages! They also compete every year in the ICCA, having advanced to Semifinals in both 2021 and 2022, and placed 3rd at Quarterfinals in 2020. They've even been featured on several BOCA albums and were recipients of multiple Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs). They recently released their 10th studio album, Power Hour! You can find this album and all of their older discography on Spotify and Apple Music. Make sure to check out their YouTube and other social platforms to stay up to date with all of their upcoming projects. 

The Acafellaz is the premier all-male a cappella ensemble at Illinois State University. Founded in 1999, the group has traveled extensively throughout Illinois and the Midwestern United States. The group is committed to performing and entertaining at a high level. 

Clef Hangers was the first mixed a cappella group at Illinois State University founded in August 2008 by a small group of ambitious students who shared a passion for a cappella music. Since its formation, the group has lost and gained various members, who have made the group what it is today. The group has competed in ICCA for the last seven years and have won numerous awards such as Outstanding Soloist and Outstanding Arrangement. Outside of performing, the group is very close and loves to spend time together doing various non-music activities. 

Secondary Dominance is Illinois State University’s premier all-treble a cappella group. Founded in 2004, these musicians have been delighting audiences with their instrument-free performances around the Bloomington-Normal area ever since. The members come from different backgrounds and have varying interests, but all share a passion for a cappella music. Secondary Dominance has had the pleasure of participating in the ICCA tournament for the past 13 years and they always look forward to competing alongside their a cappella community. When developing their musicality and passion throughout the year, ICCA is the focal point of their excitement and preparation. They always aim to achieve the highest level of mastery in their performance and never skip out on having some fun along the way! 

On the Brink of Normal is the most recent addition to ISU's a cappella family. Founded as a vocal jazz group in 2012, this group is so excited to share their 2024 ICCA set with you! Aside from ICCA, On the Brink of Normal puts on semesterly concerts at school and participates in Acapalooza, the first event of the year which features all of ISU's groups. 

Who are they? They don't know! Identity Crisis from Appleton, Wis. is Lawrence University's only a cappella group, which makes it the best group on campus by default. They mainly perform pop music, with an emphasis on creative medleys and spicy harmonies. Founded in 2018 by Joe Dennis (a huge Swiftie) and currently led by Matthew Carlson (a huge K-pop fan), Identity Crisis hopes to blend together the musical tastes of its members while avoiding an identity crisis. They made it to the ICCA Quarterfinals in 2019 and hope to make it even further this year! 

The Illinois Rip Chords is the only competitive treble a cappella group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Rips was established in 1992 as a small group of five, and as the years passed, grew to about 15 members. The Rips have been competing in ICCA for over a decade. The Rip Chords placed 1st in the 2016 Great Lakes Quarterfinals and advanced to Semifinals, and placed 3rd in the 2021 Quarterfinals with their music video, “Shut Up and Drive.” Additionally, The Rip Chords have released several studio albums and singles on streaming platforms, amassing over 100 thousand streams. With a rich history of performing in various musical styles, The Rip Chords are unafraid to push the boundaries of treble a cappella. 

No Comment is a 14-member, all-gender a cappella group hailing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This group of best friends shares a passion for music and creating together. NoCo has been wowing audiences for two decades and has no intention of slowing down any time soon. They reached ICCA Finals in 2013 and have been perennial Semifinalists ever since, releasing multiple studio albums, EPs, and singles along the way. With new projects and releases on the horizon, NoCo is sure to leave you wanting more! 

No Strings Attached is the premier co-ed jazz a cappella group at the University of Illinois. Currently a 14-member undergraduate group, No Strings Attached was founded in 1994 by students from a campus theatre group. They come from all across the country, from California to New Jersey, and study everything from psychology to lyric theatre. The only thing they love more than singing is spending time together. They are so excited to share their set with everyone here today and hope you enjoy their performance!


Dr. Benjamin Hawkinson is Director of Choral Activities at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill. A poly-stylist, his responsibilities include conducting the University Choir which tours annually, and conducting OneVoice, the premier vocal jazz ensemble. A lifelong performer, Benjamin has sung with Northern Arizona University's High Altitude and currently serves as an advisor for Millikin's Dissonance A Cappella and SeVen A Cappella. Benjamin is in demand as a conductor, clinician, and presenter with recent credits including Leonard Bernstein's “Chichester Psalms” with the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra and numerous honor choirs in both traditional choir and vocal jazz areas. He presents lectures at conferences and universities that focus on music educator mental health, entitled "Beating the Burnout: Time Management for Teachers." 

Laura Kruschke has been involved in a cappella since her college days at UW-Madison, where she sang with Tangled Up in Blue and earned her degree in music education. In 2007, she participated in launching the Contemporary A Cappella League (CAL) and founded greenTONE A Cappella in fall 2007. gT is 10 members strong today and sings for a variety of local events, including weddings, holiday parties, fundraisers, and flash mobs. In addition to gT, Laura continues to offer her expertise to local high school choirs through workshops and group coaching. In addition to Laura’s aca-involvement, she arranges music for local high school show choir and a cappella groups, sings and plays saxophone in a local band, teaches yoga, and wears many other hats as a mom to three busy school-aged kids. 

Lindsay Ryan has been an accomplished performer, director, arranger, choreographer, and vocal percussionist for most of her life. Born in St. Louis, she began her career performing in musical theatre productions at the St. Louis MUNY Opera. From there, her talents took her across the country with credits including the 30th Anniversary national tour of “Annie,” performing for the NBA L.A. Lakers, NBA L.A. Clippers, and the WNBA L.A. Sparks, and appearing on shows like “X-Factor” and “Oprah.” Eventually, she found her way to a cappella music, beginning with arranging and beatboxing at age 13 and going on to win multiple awards for arranging and performance at vocal and choral competitions all over the U.S. At the age of 16, she graduated high school and began her own childrens’ music education program/performance group called RockNacappella. Soon after the group was formed, they went on to perform at venues like the STAPLES Center, GRAMMY Museum, Pantages Theatre, and the L.A. Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival (winning Best Arrangement and 1st Runner Up in 2015), and released music on platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music. Since then, Lindsay has returned to St. Louis and continues to arrange, choreograph, and consult for various a cappella and vocal groups across the country. 

A native of upstate New York, Erin (Shults) Smith developed her passion for contemporary a cappella as a member of Premium Blend, Ithaca College’s CARA-winning treble a cappella group. Erin quickly discovered a love for arranging and vocal percussion in college. She received her B.A. in music from Ithaca College in 2010 and went on to obtain her M.A. in arts management at the Florida State University College of Music. Erin served nonprofit organizations and universities in Texas as a fundraising professional for nearly a decade. In 2022, she moved to the Chicagoland region, joining the leadership team of the Northern Illinois University Foundation. As Senior Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, she helps NIU faculty and staff connect their transformative research projects and impactful programmatic initiatives with philanthropic support and external engagement opportunities. Outside of work, Erin continues to arrange and has volunteered as a Varsity Vocals adjudicator since 2018. She also previously served as a master clinician, workshop presenter and panelist at SoJam and briefly supported the fundraising efforts of the A Cappella Academy. She remains a dedicated advocate for the contemporary a cappella discipline and for the performing arts. 


Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank Illinois State University, Nick Benson, ISU Improv Mafia, and Joseph Aquino; our judges, hosts, competitors, volunteers, partners, and producers; and you, the audience, for supporting Varsity Vocals programming.

Amanda Newman
 Executive Director

Elise Hackl-Blumstein
ICHSA Director

PA/MA Program Coordinator

Dave Rabizadeh
 ICCA Director

Emily Sucher
 Director of Publications

Lucy Jacobs
 ICCA West Producer

Lindsay Howerton-Hastings
 ICCA South Producer

Arvin Zabalerio
ICCA Central Producer

Gemma Davies
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Emily Benjamin
 ICCA Northeast Producer

Danielle Sutherland
 ICHSA Midwest Producer

Adam McNeil
ICHSA Great Lakes Producer

Cameron Clemens
 ICHSA West Producer

Jody Hagler
 ICHSA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Bryce McCracken
 Associate Producer

Bri Decerio
 Associate Producer

Courtney Jensen
 Associate Producer

Emcee Extraordinaire

Sara Yood
Senior Producer

Emily Flanders
Director of Adjudication
 ICCA Great Lakes Producer

Andrew Poole
 Director of Digital Media

Charlotte Taylor
& Social Strategy

Holli Kitching
ICCA Mid-Atlantic Producer

Leah Alrutz
 ICCA Midwest Producer

Bronwyn Jensen
 ICCA Southwest Producer

Christopher Witham
 ICCA United Kingdom Producer

Jillian Kimberlin
 Senior Producer

Christopher Hoffman
 ICHSA Northeast Producer

Ben Garza
 ICHSA Southwest Producer

Luke Thomas
 ICHSA South Producer

Alaina Wegner
 Associate Producer

Jake Yoakum
 Associate Producer

Rebecca Williamson
 Associate Producer

Andrea Poole

ICHSA Director Emeritus


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 at this event will advance to the 2024 ICCA 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!