19th Annual

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Boston | Chicago | Los Angeles | New York | Pacific North West | San Francisco | Mid Atlantic (DC)

The Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival is the premier American showcase for vocal harmony music. The annual national competition draws from hundreds of vocal groups from around the country with regional competitions in eight cities. The winning group from each festival is flown to perform in front of celebrity judges and a sold out house of enthusiastic a cappella fans at the National Finals.

2003 Chicago Champions

Nightwatch

Nightwatch was formed in December of 1998 as a result of a lost bet, or at least it seems that way sometimes. Matt (a fireman Ň ask him to show you his Dalmatian), Paul (international secret agent/sock garter model), Dan (the new voice behind that AFLAC duck) and Scott (not sure what he's doing this week) have been verbally berating each other ever since meeting in Greendale WI's Midwest Vocal Express, also known as the 2002 5th Place Bronze Medallist Barbershop Chorus. Their consistent refusal to sing any song seriously actually paid off in August of 2000, as they were crowned the Buckeye Invitational Funny Bone Comedy Quartet Champions after performing their now infamous (this means "more than famous", right?) Diner Set in front of tens of people in Columbus OH. Their latest achievement occurred in April of 2001, when they duped an esteemed judging panel just enough to capture the Land OĚLakes Division I Quartet Championship. No matter what the venue, you can expect high-quality singing and a wide array of musical styles from this group. What you can't expect is for them to go to bed early and to have serious conversations with each other, or anyone else for that matter.

2003 Results
1st
Nightwatch
2nd
Rendezvous
3rd
Straight Company
Best Original Arrangement
"I Thought She Knew" arr. by Andrew Dahan
Best Original Song
"We Don't Need No Music"


2003 Participating Groups

Blue Jupiter
Blue Jupiter is a powerful pop-jazz-funk a cappella quartet: Marty the beatboxer, Chris the screaming-high tenor, Jonathan the human orchestra, and Diana- (Blue Jupiter's secret weapon) a Broadway singer and voice-over artist. These four voices will set the audience ablaze with their infectious energy, seamless harmony and thunderous vocal percussion. You'll swear they have a back up band... but they don't.

Blue Jupiter is best known as the voices of Oreo Cookie, singing the national Oreo radio commercial since 2005. Over the past 6 years, Blue Jupiter has worked with famed producer and American Idol Judge Randy Jackson, sang with Livingston Taylor and performed on Oprah and VH1's Save the Music. They've headlined charity events for the American Cancer Society, The Red Cross, Braking the Cycle, Hartford Children's Hospital and many others. Blue Jupiter has been voted "Audience Favorite" multiple times at the Harmony Sweepstakes and has appeared at countless NACA (National Association of Campus Activities), showcases including the 2008 National Showcase in St. Louis.

Members: Marty Gasper, Chris Chatham, Toby Donnelly, Chris Thomas
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Four Bettys
The Four Bettys are the 2008 Sweet Adelines International Champion Quartet. With a combined 40+ years singing and numerous national and international awards, they share a passion for performing. The Bettys just love an audience, and have enjoyed a wide variety of performance situations including concerts, barbershop chapter shows, special events, serenades, or even drive-by singings. The Bettys have sung for audiences in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Nevada, Kansas, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Florida, Canada, Maryland and can soon be seen in Oregon, California and Hawaii. Last May, the Bettys had the rare honor of headlining a show at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Members: Wendy Ahlgrim-Bellandi, Lynda Keever, Cori Albrecht, Heather Mears
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Marcoux Corner
The first thing you notice when you see Marcoux Corner is the sound, it's pure vocal extravagance. This four piece A Cappella group combines over 20 years of voice lessons and vocal study at one of the country's most prestigious colleges for vocal performance, Concordia College in Moorhead.

The sound they produce when they join in harmony will make you rethink your attitude about music. It is, at the same time, beautiful and full of so much energy you can't help but tap your toe and grin from ear to ear. That is what separates Marcoux Corner from everyone else on the scene today, toe-tapping FUN. Kevin, Brent, Josh and Dave step onto the stage and the audience becomes part of the show. These guys don't stand up there and just perform; they engage everyone through the sheer force of their individual personalities.

Members:
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Nightwatch
Nightwatch was formed in December of 1998 as a result of a lost bet, or at least it seems that way sometimes. Matt (a fireman Ň ask him to show you his Dalmatian), Paul (international secret agent/sock garter model), Dan (the new voice behind that AFLAC duck) and Scott (not sure what he's doing this week) have been verbally berating each other ever since meeting in Greendale WI's Midwest Vocal Express, also known as the 2002 5th Place Bronze Medallist Barbershop Chorus. Their consistent refusal to sing any song seriously actually paid off in August of 2000, as they were crowned the Buckeye Invitational Funny Bone Comedy Quartet Champions after performing their now infamous (this means "more than famous", right?) Diner Set in front of tens of people in Columbus OH. Their latest achievement occurred in April of 2001, when they duped an esteemed judging panel just enough to capture the Land OĚLakes Division I Quartet Championship. No matter what the venue, you can expect high-quality singing and a wide array of musical styles from this group. What you can't expect is for them to go to bed early and to have serious conversations with each other, or anyone else for that matter.

Listen to: Truck Drivin’ Man | Listen to: Yes Sir, That’s My Baby

Members: Dan Naumann, Scott Hettig, Scott Hettig, Matt Martin
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No Limit
No Limit, the hottest new vocal band out of the midwest, has been captivating audiences everywhere. With soaring, soulful lead voices; tight harmonies; killer percussion; energetic stage presence; exciting choreography; and contemporary, 98 Degrees/*NSYNC looks, No Limit has great audience appeal. Already being featured on regional U.S. radio with its debut single, "All My Love," and having appeared at schools, colleges, fairs, festivals and other public, civic and private/corporate events, the group is currently being considered for its debut in Japan. With a repertoire covering pop hits and original songs, there really *is* No Limit to how far this 5-man vocal band can go!

Members:
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Rendezvous
Rendezvous is a mixed a cappella quartet from the Chicago area. They have very diverse interests and careers, but share a common joy in singing a cappella music. All four are accomplished singers in the barbershop style, now they get together to sing in a style that is truly their own. Their repertoire ranges from popular songs to jazz, folk and gospel, and there is sure to be something for everybody in each of their performances. Rendezvous has performed in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Oregon, New Mexico, and as far away as St. Petersburg, Russia. They recently recorded a new jingle that will be airing nationwide on radio and television for Empire Today (formerly Empire) Carpets.

Members:
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Shircago
Shircago is Chicago's premier Jewish a cappella ensemble. They have performed everywhere from local synagogues to Philadelphia's Independence Square. Their high-energy performances and creative arrangements are accessible to audiences of all ages. Shircago has recorded an eponymous studio album and had one of its tracks featured on the recent Best Of Jewish A Cappella album. This is the group's third appearance in the Harmony Sweepstakes. They will be debuting two new arrangements tonight!

Members:
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Straight Company
Straight Company is like a musical magnet, drawing together diverse styles and transforming them into something uniquely there own. Although they have experimented with different musical styles and formats over the years, they remain true to their a cappella roots and continue to deliver vibrant, airtight harmonies reminiscent of nothing you have heard before. Straight Company began over twenty-five years ago as a concept to blend the sounds of the founders’ African heritage with the sounds of the world at large to create a new and exciting style. The group has performed all over America and in many foreign countries and for an impressive list of dignitaries and events. Events such as Hosanna, The ELCA National Convention, Jubilee, Evangelism Connections, several of the Six Flags theme parks, Winter Fest, The Crystal Cathedral, Vice President Gore, and many other dignitaries. Straight Company’s CD "So Excited" charted in many markets around the USA and their latest, "Courtesy of God" won Album of the year at the CAMAs (Contemporary A cappella Music Awards) for 2002.

Members:
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Vocal Chaos
Vocal Chaos is an award-winning a cappella group from right here in Chicago! They have been making incredible music all over the Windy City since 1996, from Soldier Field and Cellular Field to Chicago Public Radio. They can also be heard singing a cappella in the Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughn movie "The Break Up". To foster collaboration and promote the art form of a cappella, they founded ACappellaFest, which in its eighth year has grown into the Midwest's largest a cappella festival. Vocal Chaos is thrilled to be back at the Harmony Sweepstakes. Look for their new EP to drop later this year!

Members:
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2003 Judges

Bill Kavanagh   

Bill Kavanagh has been a singer and performer in the Chicago area longer than he cares to admit! He is the founder and director of the "non a cappella" vocal quartet, Rapid Transit, which performs at many venues throughout the city. He also is the director of the very a cappella Holiday Harmony Strolling Carolers, who can be heard during the Christmas season, all over the city, including nightly at Lawry's Prime Rib between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Bill received his music and theatre training at both NU and NIU. He has worked extensively at the Theatre Building as a performer in the Workshop and Festival presentations of new musicals, including: Matteus in Boldface, James in Pastime, Baltus in Sleepy Hollow, Gepetto in Pinocchio. He has been seen in Kiss Me Kate, Anything Goes and My One and Only on the Northshore, and acted as a producer for the Northstar Theatre Company's production of Don't Dress for Dinner. He can be seen on film in, among others; Baby's Day Out, Only the Lonely, and The Negotiator. He has been heard at The Roxy, Byfield's and Orphan's, and also as voice over talent on a number of training CDROMs and industrial films.

Patti Lupo   

Patti Lupo - Upon her graduation from Northwestern University, Patti began performing in theater and joined Actors Equity when she was cast in the original production of “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” Not long after that, she formed her first vocal quartet with Megan Mullally called Colossal Nerve and has enjoyed performing close harmony music ever since. Patti has her own band and musical services company, Patti Lupo Music, and is the co-founder of Chicago’s busiest Christmas caroling group, The Caroling Party.

Jason Sperling   

Jason Sperling is a graduate of Northwestern University, and has been singing a cappella for almost 15 years. He performed the world premiere of "A Touch of Your Hand" from the Nylons "Happy Together" album when he attended school with its composer. He has performed with Melodious Thunk, Blind Man's Bluff, The Navy Pier Players, and Lake Shore Jive, among others. Jason has also become an accomplished singer of a cappella religious music, having caroled with Redmink and The Carolling Party, as well as singing as a soloist with the Holy Day choirs at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El and Congregation B‚nai Emunah in the Chicago area. Jason is an actor and singer around Chicago, and is an original member of Barrel of Monkeys, a children‚s writing and theatre company.

Gary Stamm   

Gary Stamm’s performance career spans more than forty years and includes musical theater, barbershop harmony, emceeing, radio-theater, television commercials, narration and a host of other media. He is a certified presentation judge with the Barbershop Harmony Society. Stamm emceed the first Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes and has judged the competition three times. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife Ruth.

Complete list of 2003 participants




Interested in Performing?

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 8 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 be waived.

How to enter

Please send music and photos to the regional director :

David Wilner (Chicago) David Wilner is a singer, songwriter, pianist and DJ who has been performing in the Chicago area for over two decades. David's a cappella career began with the University of Illinois Xtension Chords where he won a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award for vocal arranging. David went on to sing professionally with the popular Chicago-based vocal rock band Blind Man's Bluff where he toured nationally for six years and recorded five albums. David competed in the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes with both Blind Man's Bluff and Fiveplay, winning First Place, Audience Favorite, and Best Original Song with each group. David twice took Third Place at the National Finals, once winning the award for Best Original Song. Today, David is on stage as often as possible: performing as a solo artist, leading events as a DJ, singing in the classic rock quartet Ac·Rock, spreading holiday cheer in The Caroling Party,, and releasing his inner "Jersey Boy" in the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons tribute band The Four C Notes. Outside of music, David enjoys chasing after his two kids, coaching soccer, and cheering for his beloved Chicago Cubs.

P.O. Box 4502, Naperville, IL 60567
847-226-3366
david@davidwilner.com


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