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Instruments not required to amaze

By Claire Galvin
On September 29, 2013

  • Pentatonix, the winners of NBC’s “The Sing Off” brought a sold out crowd at Jorgensen to their feet at their Saturday night concert. The five members, who are all between the ages of 20 and 25, performed many covers of popular songs. Bailey Wright

There was only one thing Pentatonix's audience was left craving Saturday night - to know how five singers can pull off such a striking performance without instruments.
The world-renowned a cappella group arrived Friday to judge a campus and regional high school competition and finished their journey at UConn with two shows on Saturday night at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. They also conducted a master class for the choral department and the public on Friday.
Spectators described them as "soothing," "innovative," "liberating" and "passionate."
The UConn a cappella group Conn-Men won the Friday competition and was rewarded with opening Saturday shows.
Pentatonix became popular after winning season three of NBC's "The Sing Off" during 2011 and won a recording contract with Sony. They have since released two EPs, PTX Volume 1 and PTXmas and are currently making a third EP. They announced during the show it would feature four covers and four originals.
The group recreates radio hits covering pop songs and incorporating genres such as indie, folk, dub step, electronica, jazz and R&B as their inspirations. They post songs, such as "Thrift Shop," "Somebody That I Used To Know" and "Radioactive," on their YouTube page.
Jeremy Oliver, a 1st-semester psychology major and member of Conn Men, appreciates their pop covers because "it makes their talents digestible to the mainstream as well as making mainstream music, musically appealing."
The group consists of three lead vocals, one bass, and one beat boxer. They claim all the members are crucial to their success, but only 24 hours before "The Sing Off" audition the group had not all met.
"They've made a really big name for themselves. It's great to see a cappella becoming recognized," said Danielle Ruderman, a special education masters student and member of the Chordials, a female a cappella group on campus.
Pentatonix exuded charisma and the audience actively responded. Their stage presence cannot be compared. As a highlight of family weekend, Pentatonix had to impress more than the students on Saturday.
Between songs the group kept the audience screaming and clapping by showcasing the members' individual talents. Vocal bass Avi Kaplan showcased his overtone singing, singing two notes at once. He also sang a short piece from "The Hobbit." Kevin Olusola, the beat boxer, brought the shows only instrument to the stage and performed his "celloboxing," mixing classical cello playing and vocal percussion resulting in a standing ovation. The two also engaged the audience with a harmonious sing-along.
First semester psychology major B'Yanka McKenzie came to see Pentatonix expecting it to be like the film "Pitch Perfect," and said it brightened her night.
"I'll download their music on iTunes because it was that great," said McKenzie.
Pentatonix was agreeable to newcomers and practiced singers alike.
Thomas Jordan, 3rd-semester biology major, performed with the Conn-Men at the start of the show.
"It was by far one of the best shows I've ever seen," Jordan said. "Everything they do is just outstanding."
 


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