by BRANDON UTLEY
When planning a national tour, most groups would plan to perform for large crowds in big cities. They would want thousands of people in an attendance. They would just skip right over small towns like Tiffin. But gladly, the Filharmonic is not like most groups.
The Filharmonic, a Filipino-American a cappella group based out of Los Angeles, rose to fame when they competed on NBC’s hit musical competition The Sing-Off. They made it to the semi-finals of the show and have been on the move ever since.
Many students may recognize them from one of their major accomplishments: when they appeared alongside Pentatonix in Pitch Perfect 2.
On Sept. 15, the group headlined a concert in Tiffin University’s Marion Center, with TU’s very own Higher Ground as an opening act.
The 2015-2016 roster of the all-female Higher Ground kicked off the evening with an all-star set. Performing together for the last time ever as a group, each of the Higher Ground ladies (Geanna Britton, Sarah Giles, Layla Pollock, Ruby Santiago, Ashley Uzomba, and Rachel Wagner) got solo spots during the performance.
When asked how it felt performing with these ladies for the last time, Ruby Santiago said, “Deep down inside of me, and outside, I’m an emotional wreck. I’ve loved this group but I am very excited for what’s ahead and for what God has in store for us.”
She also stated how exciting it was to be able to perform with the Filharmonic, saying, “They are so talented and I couldn’t have asked for a better night.”
After Higher Ground wrapped, the Filharmonic graced the stage. The group consists of vocalists VJ Rosales, Joe Caigoy, Trace Gaynor, and Barry Fortgang, vocal bass Jules Cruz, and beat-boxer Niko Del Rey.
The group slayed a setlist comprised of covered hits such as “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber, “Chains” by Nick Jonas, “Treasure” by Bruno Mars, and many more. They also threw in a shout-out to their Pitch Perfect days with a beautiful cover of “Flashlight” by Jessie J.
They put their own original spin on each individual song, including singing a sultry version of “Sugar” by Maroon 5 about brownies and a Magic Mike style version of “Dessert” by Dawin (during which Higher Ground member Layla Pollock got a much closer look than the rest of us from onstage).
Not to mention there was a hilariously executed mid-set beat-boxing section by Gaynor and a hysterical showdown between Del Rey and Caigoy, which definitely gave the crown something to laugh about.
After their performance, a few of the guys were kind enough to answer a few questions.
Since The Sing-Off, Gaynor was quick to admit that their personal lives have been affected.
“What personal lives?” he asked. He continued his thought, expressing how the show has changed their lives for the better and how it’s a blessing to be able to do what they do because “nobody does professional a cappella.”
Caigoy added, “None of us went to school to be performers, we just did music on the side – something that we did as a side hobby. We can now do on a daily basis, so it’s awesome.”
While TU offers a smaller crowd than most, Cruz stated that they have been performing for a lot of colleges and varying crowd sizes, so “it's always fun to focus on a set amount of people and create a more intimate performance.”
Because of the extensive amount of time spent with one another, Barry said that it feels as if they have been to war together, but seeing all of their hard work pay off is worth it.
Gaynor said, “It’s a lot different from a typical work scenario, but we’re doing what we love, so it’s great.”
If you missed this mind-blowing performance, check out the Filharmonic on their YouTube channel, where they post new covers and have some new original content coming soon.
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