25th Annual

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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.

2009 Chicago Champions

3 Men & A Melody

Start with two music teachers, add one preacher, stir in a financial planner, and you could have the basic ingredients for any great quartet, but 3 Men & A Melody is not your basic quartet. 3M&M first formed in the stairwells of the women's dorm at Northwest Missouri State University. (Can you find better acoustics or a better audience?) These four guys have been around for 15 years competing mostly in the Barbershop Harmony Society. Since their first visit to the international stage in 2001, they have consistently placed in the top twenty, and once in the top ten. These guys are highly sought after clinicians for Young Men in Harmony and Harmony Explosions across the country, bringing their passion for a cappella harmony to young people and educators alike. In-house Tenor, Chris Droegemeuller arranges much of 3 Men & A Melody’s music to give them the unique sound that best highlights their voices. Get your ears ready for a stage full of a harmonic variety of a cappella jazz, doo-wop and barbershop.

2009 Results
1st
3 Men & A Melody
2nd
Stripped
3rd
Up ‘Til 2
Audience Favorite
Up ‘Til 2
Best Original Song
"It's Time" Mariama Czarnowski - Stripped


2009 Participating Groups

3 Men & A Melody
Start with two music teachers, add one preacher, stir in a financial planner, and you could have the basic ingredients for any great quartet, but 3 Men & A Melody is not your basic quartet. 3M&M first formed in the stairwells of the women's dorm at Northwest Missouri State University. (Can you find better acoustics or a better audience?) These four guys have been around for 15 years competing mostly in the Barbershop Harmony Society. Since their first visit to the international stage in 2001, they have consistently placed in the top twenty, and once in the top ten. These guys are highly sought after clinicians for Young Men in Harmony and Harmony Explosions across the country, bringing their passion for a cappella harmony to young people and educators alike. In-house Tenor, Chris Droegemeuller arranges much of 3 Men & A Melody’s music to give them the unique sound that best highlights their voices. Get your ears ready for a stage full of a harmonic variety of a cappella jazz, doo-wop and barbershop.

Listen to: What I Like | Listen to: Route 66

Members: Chris Droegemeuller, Eric Derks, Brian Bellof, Brad Stephens
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Chi-Town Sound
Shelley Austin sings Tenor, which is the part above the melody - only audible to dogs and small children. Vanessa Tulley provides the melody as their Lead. Chris Dunham, as the Baritone, gets all of the leftover notes. Cathie Zimmerman lays down the Bass foundation for the quartet, honing her skills daily by “duetting” with her singing basset hound. Chi-Town Sound most recently ventured forth to Hawaii, leaving behind their love for all things frozen to compete with hundreds of other musicians in the balmy breezes of Honolulu…. such a sacrifice. They have since returned to their native land and are thrilled to partake in the 2009 Harmony Sweepstakes!

Members: Shelley Austin, Vanessa Tulley, Cathie Zimmerman, Chris Dunham
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No Strings Attached
One dark, stormy night in 1994, in the seedy underworld of the Champaign-Urbana streets, 9 undergraduates met in hopes of creating a group of superheroes to bring back the light of day to the University of Illinois. They stood for truth, justice, and most importantly: Jazz. —-They were...No Strings Attached! Through their heroic musical dedication and general superhero sexiness, No Strings Attached has since captivated numerous audiences in need of their a cappella prowess across the country and beyond. Though they represent a variety of majors, the line-up of No Strings Attached shares a common bond—-a passion for music—-that they strive to reflect in any style they perform. Most of all, they stand out as a beacon in the silent darkness to make a cappella (especially jazz) accessible to (and enjoyable for) everyone.

Members: Leslie Goldberg, Becka Ryan, Kimmy Schofield, Lauren Yang, Brendan Best, Philip Bergman, Case Carvell, John Paul Nichols
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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: Danny Appelbaum, Jon Norton, Jan Slavin, Loren Shevitz, Amy Yassinger
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Stripped
Stripped is a vocal band that continues to stretch ideas about what a cappella music can be. Their concerts are highly focused on improvisation, audience participation, and making music that moves the spirit. The voices gathered here have blend and unity, but frequently remind the listener that individual expression can flourish within the context of a group sound, like a single flower enhances the garden with its own particular bouquet and color.

Stripped has performed throughout Chicago, singing original vocal jazz music at the Green Mill, HotHouse, Fitzgerald's, Lyon's Den, Uncommon Ground, Beat Kitchen, and 4th Presbyterian Church. Stripped received awards at the Chicago Cultural Center Cx2 competition and the 2004 Harmony Sweepstakes Regional competition. Stripped opened for jazz and R&B legend Patti Austin in summer 2004. Keep your eyes open for performances coming your way, then open your ears and prepare to be Stripped!

Members: Mariama Torruella, Amanda Crumley, Leslie Beukelman, Sean Archer, Tim Reid
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Up ‘Til 2
Established in 2005 and named after late-night rehearsals, Up 'til 2 rocks out with unique style. This hard-hitting group of vocalists is indeed a "band." Minimally equipped with their voices and microphones, they cover low to high, and dazzle audiences of all ages. With backgrounds in classical voice, a cappella, rock, musical theater and jazz, each Up 'til 2 member adds a unique element to the band. Their blend of live music and theater will have you laughing to the sounds of current and classic radio hits, Motown, jazz, and funk.

Members: Donovan Germain, Barry Patrick, Eric Buegler, Casey Radmann, Jason Price, Ben Foster
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2009 Judges

Timm Adams   

Timm Adams is enjoying his fifteenth year as Associate Professor of Music at Rockford University where he teaches a variety of voice and musical theater-related courses, conducts three choirs and musical directs the Performing Arts Department’s main stage musicals. For 15 years, he was the proud Artistic Director of the Chicago Chamber Choir, presenting more than 40 concert series and producing 4 CDs. He stepped down from that position in 2014 in order to devote more time to the growing Performing Arts Department at RU.

In the fall of 2015, Adams was awarded a sabbatical from the university, during which he directed and performed in Pump Boys and Dinettes in his home town of Kansas City. He also furthered his research in vocal pedagogy for contemporary singing styles (rock and musical theater, primarily) by shadowing six prominent musical theater and rock voice teachers in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Becca Kaufman   

A native New Yorker, Becca moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University’s renowned theatre program. Beginning her career as one of the most sought-after jingle writers/session vocalists in Chicago, Becca quickly expanded her talents to producing musical showcases and albums, providing commercial voice overs, and becoming a wedding expert featured on TV and radio—including her own radio show “I Do, I Do” on 105.9fm, WCKG. Becca has been leading her own society band, BK), for the past ten years. A little over four years ago, Becca launched her own company, BeatMix Music, bringing on a roster of talent including dance bands, string quartets, jazz trios and more, hoping to match every client with an unparalleled music experience. Becca has appeared on stage with performers such as Lily Tomlin, Brooke Shields, Phoebe Snow, Tony Roberts, and Ellen Burstyn and several summers ago was a featured performer in the Broadway Chicago Concert in Millennium Park singing for over 19,000 people. Becca was cast in the role of a comedic cabaret singer for Scrooge & Marley, a feature film released in late 2012. And, should you wonder where her hometown loyalties reside—she has sung the National Anthem for both the world-champion Chicago Bulls and her forever-losing New York Knicks. She is the proud wife of acclaimed chef, Peter Schonman, and by far her best productions are their three kids, Gabe, Brooke and Trevor.

Warren Kaplan   

Warren Kaplan is an original member of the a cappella group 4 On The Floor, which accounts for some of his most enjoyable and most cherished performing experiences. As a classically trained singer, he also performs with symphonies around the country, in such works as Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Samson and the Verdi Requiem. His most recent appearance, earlier this month, was with the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra as bass soloist in the Mozart Requiem. Warren is a voiceover actor, with numerous commercials to his credit, including spots for McDonald’s, Sears, Coors Lite, Life Cereal and Pizza Hut. Some of his non-singing passions are abstract painting, drawing caricatures, bicycle touring and the outdoors. Warren is thrilled to return to this year’s Harmony Sweepstakes.

Brian Michaels   

Brian Michaels has been involved in the world of a cappella music for quite a while. His first experience with an a cappella group was May 3rd, 1993 when he first saw The Blenders, and needless to say he was hooked. In 1997 Brian was working at an oldies radio station in West Fargo, ND and was searching for info on The Blenders when he stumbled on 2 websites: CASA and Primarily A Cappella. Over the next few months, Brian started contacting as many groups as he could, and in October of 1997, he started The A Cappella Hour radio show. Brian started with 29 CD’s. At this same time, Brian became involved with CASA as an ambassador. Brian has had his weekly radio show on five stations since 1997, with the longest being seven years. The show has been highly rated on every station. Brian’s Christmas special, "Holiday Harmonies" has aired across the country. Brian has judged the Denver Harmony Sweepstakes three times, and has judged the CARA's for over eight years. Now with a collection of over 1500 a cappella CD’s, Brian is very excited to be here in Chicago as a judge for the Harmony Sweepstakes.

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 2009 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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Northshore Center For The Performing Arts

The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie (NSCPAS) is a dynamic, two-theater complex located in one of the most vibrant communities in the country. The NSCPAS is home to three distinct resident companies: presenting organization Centre East, Inc, producing theater company Northlight Theatre, and the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra. The facility is also the performance home to the acclaimed Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra and hosts numerous other cultural organizations and special events each year. The NSCPAS is located just off of I-94 (Edens Expressway) about 30-minutes north of Downtown Chicago. In addition to a diverse programming schedule, its proximity to Old Orchard Shopping Center, a wide range of excellent restaurants and plenty of free parking, make the North Shore Center a convenient and popular destination for entertainment. Directions - Yelp reviews -


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