21st Annual

Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, acapella singing competition, illinois

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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.

2005 Chicago Champions


Fiveplay, Chicago's 2005 Midwest Harmony Sweepstakes Champions, is not your typical vocal group. In a world where musical trends change on a weekly basis, Fiveplay's style is timeless and enduring. With fresh interpretations of the standards of yesterday, classic arrangements of the hits of today and their own critically-acclaimed original compositions, Fiveplay demonstrates stunning versatility and razor-sharp precision with every song. Their diverse repertoire is virtually a 20th century songbook, covering everything from Sinatra to The Temptations to The Beatles and U2. More than simply a musical showcase, Fiveplay's refined choreography and unique brand of humor will entertain audiences of all ages.

2005 Results

An Octave Above
Four Bettys
Audience Favorite
Best Original Arrangement
"I Don't Want To Be Kissed...Period!" by Sean Archer
Best Original Song
"I Never Knew" by David Wilner

2005 Participating Groups


Pride (and 2003 Champions) of SPEBSQSA's Illinois District, Alchemy has been rising steadily through the Barbershop competition in their quest for the Gold. These 15 songs show us how much this group has polished and refined their sound in the process. 'Old St. Louie,' 'Birth of the Blues,' 'I Only Have Eyes for You,' the very apt 'Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,' 'Dayton, Ohio) 1903,' the very funny 'Mississippi Squirrel Revival,' the deathless 'Lida Rose' in medley with 'Will I Ever Tell You,' 'Gospel Medley' and 'Stars Fell On Alabama' are pure Barbershop entertainment, that play on our heartstrings and nostalgia strings with the best of them. Sweet harmonies, pure ringing chords-this is the good stuff. Enjoy!

Members: George Sotos, Rick Anthoney, Ken Gillie, Mark Keever

An Octave Above
An Octave Above is a group of eight professional vocalists who blend years of experience and a love of a cappella harmony to every style of music they sing. From doo-wop to jazz, standards to pop, Bacharach to The Beatles, An Octave Above creates a new standard for excellence on the Chicago music scene.

Also members of prestigious Chicago-area choral ensembles including the Chicago Symphony Chorus, An Octave Above members hold degrees from Elmhurst College, Northern Illinois University, Bradley University, University of Illinois at Champaign, Western Michigan and the University of Miami.Members: Melinda Voss, Deb Wilder, Meredith Morris, Nick Falco, Drew Dahan, Rob McNeill, Chris Moan, Jennifer Gingrich

Fiveplay, Chicago's 2005 Midwest Harmony Sweepstakes Champions, is not your typical vocal group. In a world where musical trends change on a weekly basis, Fiveplay's style is timeless and enduring. With fresh interpretations of the standards of yesterday, classic arrangements of the hits of today and their own critically-acclaimed original compositions, Fiveplay demonstrates stunning versatility and razor-sharp precision with every song. Their diverse repertoire is virtually a 20th century songbook, covering everything from Sinatra to The Temptations to The Beatles and U2. More than simply a musical showcase, Fiveplay's refined choreography and unique brand of humor will entertain audiences of all ages.
Listen to: I Never Knew | Listen to: Superstitious / I Wish

Members: Brian Siedband, Aaron Siedband, David Reeder, Dave Wagner, David Wilner

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: Lynda Keever, Cori Albrecht, Joan Boutilier, Heather Mears

Local Vocal
Local Vocal is a dynamic vocal ensemble of individuals who each have an extensive musical background and somewhat eclectic musical taste. The result is an a cappella group performing jazz, doo-wop, and popular standards in unique arrangements which highlight the group's tight harmonies, toe-tapping rhythms, and smooth vocal blend. Founded in 2001, Local Vocal made its debut appearance as special guest artists at the Lewis University Vocal Jazz Ensemble Concert in May 2002. They have performed at various public and private events throughout the Chicagoland area, including political fundraising events and the inaugural convention of DuPage United.Members: Patti Madison, Karen Krueger, Dennis Treadwell, Rex Wilkinson, Vicki Bryant, Gwen Holst, Bob Holst

Straight No Chaser
The group originally came together in the fall of 1996 at IU, basically as "10 guys who happened to be good friends who also liked to sing." Choosing the members carefully for personality as well as vocal talent - Stine, Mechling, Jerome Collins, David Roberts and Walter Chase remain from the original lineup -- SNC set itself apart from other a cappella groups with its contemporary repertoire and dynamic approach, quickly headlining concerts both in Bloomington and on road dates. SNC recorded three independent albums, and John Mellencamp even invited the group to his home for a private performance.

When the founders began graduating in 1999 and went on to jobs mostly outside of music, they chose replacements and established SNC as an ongoing group on campus with future generations of ambitious IU undergrads. More than 50 members have passed through the group's ranks so far. Members: Sargon Isho, Jeff Tanski, Adam Basey, Chris Ryan, Steve Wolf, Adam Stulberg, Corey Frye, Adam Rich

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: Gayle Bisesi, Leslie Beukelman, Mariama Torruella, Sean Archer

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: Jeff Swearingen, Karl Solis, Anthony Roberts, Drew Dahan, Jim Pretkelis, Jason VanCauwenberge, Paul R. Peterson, Tim Gallagher

2005 Judges

Jay Giallombardo   

Jay Giallombardo began his interest in a cappella singing at the young age of 8 where he learned part singing with church hymns. At New Trier High School, his interest in music expanded further, where he sang in the choral groups and musicals, began a barbershop quartet, and studied music theory. Jay started arranging about age 15. Jay went on to study music at Bradley University and finished his Music Education Degree at Boston University. Jay also completed his Masters in Music Composition and Theory at Northwestern and taught high school choral music before pursuing a variety of activities in the "Barbershop World" with an actively performing quartet, chorus directing, arranging and coaching. Jay sang baritone in "Grandma's Boys"; they recorded three albums, performed across the US and Canada, and won the International Quartet Championship in 1979. Jay became a founding member and musical director of the New Tradition Barbershop Chorus in 1981. The New Tradition, under Jay's direction, was a medalist chorus (top 5) through the 90's, culminating in a gold medal championship in 2001. Jay is one of very few (about 4) Society members that have achieved a gold medal with a quartet and as a chorus director. Jay became a Music Judge for the Society in 1994. He and his wife Helen own and operate GSB Medal Music, Inc which provides Jay's a cappella arrangements to performing groups worldwide. Jay currently has been arranging pieces for chorus and orchestra.

Daniel Gregerman   

Daniel Gregerman, Choral Director at Niles North High School in Skokie, IL has spent 23 years building an award winning choral program. Applying his deep passion for music and education, Gregerman started and built the NNHS vocal program. He was recently named, the 2014 John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year by the Jazz Education Network and the Berklee School of Music. His groups have earned national recognition, performing at regional and national conferences, winning multiple Down Beat awards, and performing at festivals both nationally and internationally. Gregerman’s ensembles have shared the stage with such names as Diane Schuur, The New York Voices, The Real Group, Take Six, and Janis Segal of The Manhattan Transfer. Known composers such as Jennifer Barnes, Michele Weir, Kirby Shaw, Greg Jaspers, and Gary Fry continue to create musical arrangements and compositions for his ensembles. Gregerman has served in a variety of leadership roles within the community of education. He is a founding member of the Jazz Education Network, (JEN), where he has volunteered in many different roles including his role as the Conference Office Co0rdinator for the Annual JEN Conference. Gregerman has held positions as State and District Chairman of Vocal Jazz for ILMEA, and has been Guest Director for several ILMEA District Jazz Festivals as well as acting as a clinician for vocal groups both locally and around the Midwest. Gregerman earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and a Master of Music Degree with an emphasis in Choral Conducting and Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI.

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.

Darren Stephens   

Darren Stephens has been performing in harmony groups his whole life. For five years in the late 80’s, he made his living as a member of The Four Guys Standing Around Singing, an a cappella music and comedy act. When they weren’t performing in Chicago, The Four Guys appeared at hundreds of colleges and universities around the country, and were chosen as the National Association of College Activities Performer Of The Year. They also starred in national television and radio commercials for McDonald’s, regional ads for Pepsi and the Sun-Times, and did tons of corporate shows and state fairs. In the Four Guys’ heyday, the comedy club boom was at its height, and the group was a featured act at every Catch A Rising Star club in the country including New York, Chicago and Las Vegas, opening for comedians such as Janeane Garofalo and Jerry Seinfeld. Darren is currently performing comedy in bluegrass three-part harmony with an ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’-style act called The Famous Brothers . Alongside his singing group activity, Darren has performed around Chicago as a theater actor and improv comedian, and has made his living as a voiceover actor for hundreds of radio and television commercials.

Complete list of 2005 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 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 be waived.

How to enter

Please send music and photos to the regional director :

David Wilner (Chicago) David Wilner competed in the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes with Blind Man’s Bluff and Fiveplay, winning First Place, Audience Favorite, and Best Original Song with each group. During his six years in Blind Man’s Bluff, David toured nationally and recorded five albums. He also spent seven years with the classic rock quartet Ac•Rock, recording two albums. Today, David emcees events throughout the Chicagoland area and performs in the band The Four C Notes. He has been the regional producer of the Chicago Harmony Sweepstakes since 2017.

P.O. Box 4502, Naperville, IL 60567

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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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9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL 60077

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