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



DeKalb High School
Saturday, March 2nd, 2024


We're talking about this event, and all of our events around the world!



Follow us @varsityvocals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, and join the conversation using #ICHSA.


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 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.

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.

 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.


Business Casual is Stagg High School's elite a cappella group. They audition in May and rehearse throughout the year. Performing at various school and community events, they are proud representatives of their school and music program. This is their third ICHSA and they’re thrilled to return to the stage to compete and support their fellow singers after last year’s incredible and inclusive experience. This year, Business Casual has 12 singers, all heavily involved in other activities, including powerlifting, eSports, drama, band, other independent music projects, student government, NHS, and more. Business Casual wishes good luck to all of tonight’s performers! 

Gold Nation A Cappella is from Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Ill. Members audition to be part of the group and include students ranging from freshmen through seniors. The group meets once or twice a week in the evenings or after school. They look forward to performing for everyone this year and hearing all of the other amazing groups! Best of luck to everyone! 

Hawkapella is a group of determined students that love to challenge themselves outside of the curricular choir. They meet every Thursday as an SATB group. As they grow into better singers, they also grow as one big family. They constantly support one another, love making music together, and telling stories. Hawkappella is a mostly student-led group ranging from the ninth through 12th grades. 

Enharmonic Fusion is a mixed a cappella ensemble from DeKalb High School in DeKalb, Ill. Established in 2010, they advanced to the ICHSA Finals in their first year and replicated that success in 2012, 2015, and 2016. In 2017, they were named ICHSA Midwest Semifinal Champions and placed 2nd overall at 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 all of their supporters in the DeKalb community, as well as their friends and family. 

Mod21 is IMSA’s one and only exclusive student-run a cappella group, created over two decades ago. The group is composed of 18 members and ranges from sophomores to seniors. Though they are a math and science academy at a residential high school, numerous musically talented students audition each year. This year’s group of dedicated performers rehearses between two and four hours each week. They perform for IMSA’s cultural shows, Diwali, Lunar, Casa, and Harambee, in addition to school choir concerts and several other extracurricular and holiday performances. Mod21 consistently competes in the ICHSA and is thrilled to be back. Since Mod21 is completely student-run, the group’s board members fully arrange and teach their music to the rest of the group. Their vocal repertoire ranges from Broadway and R&B to pop, often incorporating choreography (especially for ICHSA). Mod21 aims to spread a cappella appreciation on the IMSA campus and throughout the community. Mod21 shares their passion for music in every rehearsal and performance and looks forward to connecting with other groups and a cappella enthusiasts outside the IMSA community. 

Noteworthy originated as the Memorial Madrigals, a group of high school choir singers from Eau Claire Memorial High School that has been spreading holiday cheer throughout the Chippewa Valley for over 55 years. While The Memorial Madrigals are still in high demand to carol during the holiday season, they now perform as Noteworthy for the rest of the year, focusing on the art of contemporary a cappella music and performance. This is thegroup’s sixth year under the direction of Aurora Krajnikconde. Noteworthy is composed of 13 members who were accepted after a rigorous audition process. This Noteworthy’s fifth year competing  in the ICHSA. Last year, they advanced to ICHSA Semifinals and were honored to compete with 10 other amazing high school a cappella groups from the Great Lakes Region at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. 

Off The Record is a passionate group of student musicians who strive to entertain audiences with technically sound and emotionally compelling performances. In its six years of existence, OTR has been fortunate to qualify for four ICHSA Semifinal rounds and placed as Runner-Up in both 2021 and 2023. OTR actively performs throughout the Midwest and has been invited to perform at the Illinois Music Educators Conference and as the opening act for Foreigner’s farewell tour. They would like to thank their friends and family for all of their support. 

The AHS Accidentals is a 17-member, auditioned, a cappella vocal group all the way from Arcadia High School in Arcadia, Wis. The group ranges from freshmen through seniors and has become a close-knit family. Nine of their members are brand-new to a cappella so show them some love. The Accidentals all fight and argue like siblings, yet they support one another like family. The bond is real. The Accidentals are directed by Pam Siewert. Although everyone in the group is involved in different extracurricular activities, they all still come together for the love of music and 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. Give it up for The AHS Accidentals! 

The Accidentals is a student-initiated group that loves to sing and perform for their local community. They rehearse two or three mornings a week all year long. 

VCR, otherwise known as Vocal Chords Required, is so excited to compete at ICHSA. VCR is a mixed group that rehearses before school, specializing in diverse genres and sounds. They hope you enjoy their set! 


Cory Ellis got his a cappella start at Northern Illinois University, where he was a founding member of the all-tenor/bass a cappella group, The NIU Huskie Hunks. Cory received his bachelor's degrees in music from Northern Illinois University and Western Illinois University, where he studied instrumental music education. Cory currently serves as the director of choral music at Rochelle Township High School, where he leads two curricular choirs and Midnight Voices, the school's vocal jazz ensemble. He is also a member of the Kishwaukee Concert Band. Cory has been judging with Varsity Vocals for eight years. 

Charlotte Graham has been a part of the a cappella community as a performer, arranger, and educator. She studied music education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she directed the collegiate a cappella group Girls Next Door and served as assistant director of the University Chorus. Post-school, she taught music and choir at Walden Elementary School. Charlotte continues to specialize in arranging music of all genres for a cappella performance. She looks forward to tonight’s performances! 

Rowan Ownby graduated from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in choral music education. During her time there, she was a member of the all-treble a cappella group, The Illinois Rip Chords, serving as music director and arranger. Having begun her a cappella career in high school, she has been arranging for a cappella groups since 2013 and continues to do so for college groups and high schools around Illinois. She is now working side jobs as an audio engineer for a cappella groups at The University of Illinois and does not see herself stopping anytime soon. 

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 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (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. 

Jay Smith, Ph.D. has been studying, researching, performing, and teaching in the field of music for decades. He taught undergraduate music theory and aural skills at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas Woman's University, and University of North Texas (UNT) prior to his relocation to Illinois. Jay holds a Ph.D. in music theory from UNT with a secondary area in composition, and has had numerous pieces premiered throughout his career. He also holds a master's degree in music theory from Florida State University and a bachelor's degree in music education from University of Central Arkansas, where he was awarded the Best Student Performer in trumpet and overall brass. Jay has sung with community choirs throughout Texas and Illinois and has decades of experience performing with wind ensembles, jazz bands, marching bands, chamber groups, and as a soloist. He is also a skilled arranger and has had multiple research papers and educational tools published in academic music journals. 


Varsity Vocals would like to recognize and thank 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 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!