The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Singing the music of the spheres

Vocalosity (File)

Deke Sharon, considered by many the father of contemporary a cappella, had an idea: bring together an all-star ensemble to create the ultimate a cappella performance. From that, Vocalosity was born.

The group débuted this month, with its inaugural tour bringing it to the Englert, 221 E. Washington St., at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are sold out, but there may be a few more available on the day of the show.

Vocalosity differs because of its cast, said Hancher Programming Director Jacob Yarrow. Contemporary a cappella groups brought in by Hancher in the past have been seasoned groups, together for many years.

“[Vocalosity is] a mix-and-match of singers coming together to make a show rather than a pre-formed group that has been working together for a long time,” Yarrow said.

Rob Cline, the Hancher director of marketing and communications, is a self-proclaimed a cappella fanatic. He believes what sets Vocalosity apart is how the singers came together.

“It’s not the same as eight guys and gals who decide to become an a cappella group and become something bigger; this is a casting call,” Cline said. “They went out, and found great singers, and put them together. They really created this group from the ground up, and I am interested to see how that plays out, that construction of an a cappella group by design rather than happenstance.”

Tracy Roberston, one of the vocal percussionists, described himself as “one of those people who make crazy drum noises with their mouths.” But beyond that, Roberston has a long history with a cappella in the many forms it can take.

“Both my parents sing barbershop, so I grew up around that,” Roberston said. “My dad was directing a barbershop chorus that my mom joined when she moved into town. My mom sang in competitions with me in her belly, that sort of thing. Before I was actually out in the open air, I was being exposed to a cappella.

“In the last four or five years, I have come full circle and realized at the end of the day my passion is with the human voice and seeing what can be done with it,” Roberston said.

The show will perform many styles of music, from the Beatles to contemporary pop and going back 1,000 years to Gregorian chants.

The audience members, Roberston said, will be able to have a new kind of experience.

“There’s one point in the show where we put the microphone down and sing truly a cappella,” he said. “It forces and allows us to forget some of the technical compromising we have to do when we make the rest of the show accessible. It allows us to let go and make music that is even more real for us … having that moment is really powerful for us and the audience.

“It’s beautiful for a lot of reasons. But we’re singing in larger spaces, and it forces the audience to sit still, be still, and listen in a very active way.”



When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington

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