2011 Participating Groups
TonicEffect is a group of five talented musicians and truly gifted drinkers who transcend traditional a cappella roles to deliver an unexpected, exciting performance. Our modern, edgy music - including original mash-up arrangements, shared lead vocals, and rotating vocal percussion - brings a new energy to the Bay Area a cappella scene.
Members: Brian Arao, Colm Davis, Jennifer Exley, Syreeta Mussante, Andy Matuschak
| Clef Divers|
The Clef Divers put a fresh, hip spin on contemporary a cappella. Based in San Francisco, our members are an eclectic mix of classically-trained divas, soulful jazz crooners, rock gods, musical theatre nerds, bluegrass fiends, prodigious songwriters, and karaoke queens. We sing everything from popular rock, pop, jazz, and country hits to original songs that showcase our unique talents.
Members: Jason Hunter, Emily Bergen, Maura Geiszler, Eric Huang, Earl Rivard, Steve Medina, David Ojala, Sara Faith Altman
Smorgaschord draws its name from ancient runic inscriptions of abundant food and music, the combination of which may lead to harmonic indigestion. We entertain at events around the Peninsula, including summer festivals, coffee shops, rehab centers, and occasionally, the checkout line of supermarkets. We could be right behind you in line. Look for the shoppers with a wide variety of musical styles and poorly-balanced nutritional choices. Hey, where did you find that bacon-flavored chocolate? Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and get your shopping cart harmonized.
Members: Larry Hamel, Harold Zable, Mia Whitfield, Patti Schank, Valerie Rose, Bill Anderson
| Curious Blend|
For the past four years, the accapella quartet Curious Blend has been delighting audiences with its eclectic mix of original compositions, pop songs, world music, show tunes, and jazz. What's the recipe for our success? Take four talented singers: Randi, Jen, Craig, and Mike. Stir in rich harmonies from a wide range of musical styles. Blend and blend until the sound is silky and smooth. Beat in syncopated rhythms and off-beat comedy. Whip until lively and fun. The result: a blendiferous combination of harmony and humor. Serve hot all over the Bay Area.
Members: Jennifer Gil, Mike Pogue, Craig Rosen, Randi Zuckerberg
| Honeybee Trio|
Prior to the Honeybee Trio, its three young singers - Karli, Natalie, and Sarahohad heard each other sing at various school talent shows. In October, 2008, the three were asked to work together as a trio for a special performance at a local retirement community. Though there were originally no plans beyond that one performance, it was clear that their combined talents produced something very special. Through serendipity, the Honeybee Trio was born. Two years later, they are going strong and thrilling audiences wherever they go. The girls have had many wonderful opportunities to perform and are looking forward to exploring how far they can go with their singing.
Members: Natalie Angst, Karli Bosler, Torrance Airhart, Sarah McElwain
| Brass Farthing|
Brass Farthing is a group of stalwart lads brought together to sing songs, raise good cheer, and otherwise make merry in the company of friends both old and new. We take our inspiration from many periods and enjoy performing historical, traditional, and contemporary compositions in traditional styles.
George started the group in August 2006. We first performed at the Dickens Chistmas Fair and have performed there every year. We cut our self-published CD "Brass Farthing" in summer 2007. We also perform at the Northern California Ren Faire, Steam Punk Conventions and local bars.
Members: Rory Alden, Chris Callahan, George Chlentzos, Mark Donnelly, Jim Partridge, Tazz Richards, Bill Roper, Ben Wilson
| Na Leo Nahenahe|
Na Leo Nahenahe (Sweet Voices) is a primarily a cappella group with the purpose to promote and preserve Hawaiian language, culture and song through choral music. Founded in 1999, Na Leo Nahenahe has been under the direction of Leolani Grace Renaud since 2008. The singers performing for the Harmony Sweepstakes Festival are a selection from the larger chorus, whose members span many generations, ethnicities, and choral experience levels. The music covers a broad spectrum, mostly in Hawaiian, from classic standards of the Lili'uokalani era to more contemporary works.
Members: Greg Suzukawa, Eddie Mendiola, Tom Herz, Tama Blough, Saralie Pennington, Dale Hopkins, Grace Renaud
PDQ is a 4-part a cappella group that enjoys singing in the barbershop style. We sing jazz, pop, Americana, comedy, traditional barbershop, gospel and anything else. Basically, if you want to hear it, we'd love to sing it! We are the current 2009 Region 12 Fifth Place Medalist Quartet
Members: Karrie Colette, Leah Brooks, Kathy Hebert, Laura Conners
| Vocal Minors|
These boys love to sing! Vocal Minors is an all-male treble ensemble composed of middle school boys. The genesis of the group came from the boysŪ own inspiration after they attended the Harmony Sweepstakes National Finals last year. With the support of their families, the boys hired a musical director, selected songs, created arrangements, and rehearsed after school in the evenings and on weekends. As students of the Pacific Boychoir Academy in Oakland, California, they have a wealth of singing experience. Their youthful energy, dynamic personalities, and vocal talents create a unique a cappella sound!
Members: Sam Siegel, Zachary Salsburg-Frank, Nathan Savant, Julian Nesbitt, Louis Polcin, Conner Choi
||Peter Albin |
As a principal member of the rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, Peter achieved rock icon status. Not only the group's bassist, he also played guitar and sang lead vocals on the band's first record with Janis Joplin, and wrote several of their songs. Subsequent to that auspicious success he played with Country Joe and the Fish, and well as Bay Area supergroup the Dinosaurs. In recent years, while Big Brother continue to tour and perform, Peter began working behind the scenes in the music business. Currently he works for City Hall Records, the nationís largest independent music distributor and is active in the San Francisco Chapter of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences).
Katie holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from San Jose State with an emphasis on improvised music including jazz, gospel, pop/rock music styles, Afro-Latin and other world music traditions. Prior to that, she obtained a degree from vocal jazz guru Phil Mattson's School for Music Vocations in Iowa, and has recently completed her M.A. in Drama at San Francisco State University. Katie is currently the Artistic Director of the Oakland Jazz Choir, Director of Music at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church in Oakland, and teaches voice and piano privately at Studio G in Napa. She has worked as director/conductor, accompanist, and arranger, as well as performer with various choral, jazz, and theatrical groups. Katie has also sung and recorded with multiple jazz, R&B/funk/soul, gospel, and Afro-Latin groups, and also works as an actor in various theatre and film productions in the Bay Area.
||Kerry Marsh |
Kerry Marsh is a composer and arranger specializing in contemporary music for vocal jazz ensembles. In high demand as a commissioned arranger for many of the nation's top educational vocal and instrumental jazz ensembles, Marsh has a large and varied catalog of music performed regularly around the world. Kerry has published arrangements through UNC Jazz Press and Sound Music Publications. Since 2003, Kerry has directed the vocal jazz ensembles at Sacramento State, and in that time, his ensembles and individual students have earned ten Down Beat Magazine Student Music Awards, distinguishing it as one of the premiere programs in the country. The Sac State vocal jazz ensembles were invited twice to perform at conferences of the International Association for Jazz Education, and were one of fourteen winners of a national search to have a song appear on the Epic Records release: "Ben Folds - College A Cappella". Marsh then worked for Folds as a vocal arranger and background singers director on a twelve-city tour in performances with major symphony orchestras, including the Boston Pops and the Washington National Symphony.
Eric Morris is a founding member of the renowned male a cappella quartet, the EDLOS, and sang first tenor with them for over 20 years until their retirement in 2011. In their first year of existence the EDLOS won first place and audience favorite and Mr. Morris also won that same year for best original arrangement at the Harmony Sweepstakes. Eric has been a tenor soloist with such diverse groups as the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet, Pocket Opera, Marin Opera, Canada Opera Piccola, the Lamplighters, and many others. A graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Eric was the tenor soloist for the first annual Sing-it-Yourself Messiah at the SF Opera House. Fifteen years ago Eric became a faculty member at Notre Dame de Namur University, teaching private voice lessons, vocal performance, opera workshop, computer music applications and music skills lab. He has won awards for his compositions as well, and is an avid bicyclist, accordionist, tennis player, banjo player, horticulturist and Chapman Stick player.
Complete list of 2011 participants
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We are always seeking groups who would like to participate
in our events.
Groups of any style are welcome, but you must have between
3 and 12 members. We have a rule book which explains many of the
details of the event, which you can see by clicking here. All groups must audition in
order to compete. Generally this is done by sending a current tape
and photo, although live auditions are sometimes arranged. The
purpose of the audition is to make sure the group is appropriate for
the Festival and to help the Director determine the performance
order. If a group has competed previously, the audition process may
How to enter
Please send music and photos to the
regional director :
John Neal (Bay Area)
Beginning as a local event the Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, under Nealís guidance, has grown to become the most significant live showcase for a cappella music in the nation and attracts hundreds of groups and thousands of audience members every year. The Harmony Sweepstakes was the original inspiration for the NBC prime time series The Sing-Off and Neal was hired as a consultant to the series. Neal is president of Primarily A Cappella - (www.singers.com) which is the nationís leading vendor of a cappella music including recordings, arrangements, DVDs, songbooks and instructional material for singers. Neal writes the informative blog at www.acappellanews.com which has a large and loyal readership.
PO Box D, San Anselmo, CA 94979
festival (at) harmony-sweepstakes.com