Famed ‘Filharmonic’ group brings a cappella skills to Fresno State

Original members of The Filharmonic, lead by Jules Cruz (left), perform at the Satellite Student Union Wednesday night Sept. 13, 2017. (Alejandro Soto/The Collegian)

Beatboxing rhythms, smooth bass vocals and tenor harmonies filled the Satellite Student Union on Wednesday as students sang and danced – all with no instruments.

The music was courtesy of the a cappella stylings from The Filharmonic, a Filipino-American singing group.

The Filharmonic consists of five members: vocal bass Jules Cruz; tenors Joe Caigoy, Trace Gaynor and VJ Rosales; and beatboxer Niko Del Rey.  During their Fresno State performance, beatboxer Danny Cavero filled in for Del Rey.

Students lined up outside the doors as the group rehearsed at sound check. Fresno State is one of more than 150 colleges The Filharmonic has visited.

“It’s so much fun to go to colleges, and we aren’t too far actually, we’re only from LA,” Cruz said.  “We’re happy to be here. It’s our first time to Fresno as a group.”

The performance began with Cavero coming to the stage alone. He tapped the air, pantomiming pressing buttons on a sound board as he began beatboxing and was soon joined by the other members.

The group opened with a cover of “Chains” by Nick Jonas, followed by an upbeat rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.”  Rosales dedicated “Sugar” by Maroon 5 to the signature pizookies from BJ’s Brewhouse.

The evening brought laughs and cheers as Cavero and Gaynor showed off their beatboxing skills.

The group also performed its first original single, “Dance Wit Me.”

The Filharmonic first came onto the music scene in 2013 when it came in fourth place in the a cappella TV singing competition show “The Sing-Off.”  

Following the show, it gained popularity after being featured in “Pitch Perfect 2” and “The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Its unique spelling of “philharmonic” is a pun intended to highlight the cultural background of the members, as they are all of Filipino descent.

“When we started for “The Sing-Off” on NBC, that was our main goal – to promote Filipino culture and try to put more Filipino-Americans in [the] mainstream entertainment industry,” Gaynor said. “That’s the first thing that people learn about us because of our name.  Being able to represent our culture in college shows and things like that is the main reason that we’re performing.”

For students Kat Sotaso, Romylyn Teale, Micky Malapit and Ryan Juan, all Filipino, seeing their culture represented on stage was a special experience.

“We’re Filipino, so [we’re] supporting our Filipino people,” Teale said.

Malapit said that he wanted to attend the performance “just based on the fact that they’re Filipino.”  

“When you hear a new artist that’s Filipino, if you’re Filipino, you show support to your own culture,” he said.

The Filharmonic is in the process of writing original music for a new album.

“As a group, we kind of always were inspired by that ‘90s and over into mainstream pop music right now,” Caigoy said.  “So [we] kind of infuse what’s current right now with that ‘90s vibe.”

Hayley Salazar contributed to this article.

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