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TU a cappella group performs in England, Italy

TIFFIN UNIVERSITY, Tiffin, OH — Tiffin University’s acclaimed a cappella ensemble Up in the Air is preparing for a one-week European tour in August, which will include performances in England and Italy. Up in the Air will be giving two concerts in London, and also performing at the Vocalmente A Cappella Festival in Fossano, Italy, where their director Brad Rees will also serve as a guest speaker.

Brad Rees

“When the opportunity to participate in the Vocalmente festival came up we were really excited,” said Rees. “Not only will the group get to perform at a historic venue before an audience of a cappella fans, they’ll also get to work in the festival’s ‘Vocalmentor’ program, where student and amateur groups are paired up with professional vocalists for intensive three-day workshops. Mentors include members of some of the most important vocal ensembles in the world, including The Real Group from Sweden, and The Swingles from London.”

On their way to Italy, Up in the Air will be making a three-day stop in London, where they’ll be giving two performances — one at the Soho Club and another at hClub, both exclusive Covent Garden private clubs.

During their London performances, they are partnering with Nicola Jane Buttigieg, a composer of West End musical theatre productions. Buttigieg’s current work includes two projects to which Up in the Air will contribute. The first is the launch of a beatbox notation system developed for use in UK schools. Buttigieg is using Up in the Air’s performance to demonstrate her groundbreaking system.

The second collaboration is the debut performance of a song with music written by the London composer, and lyrics inspired by the words of her cousin, US presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Rees has known Nicola Buttigieg for more than ten years, when they both attended the same music education workshop.

“That’s a really unique situation,” said Rees. “Nicola took the music from a song she wrote for a production sponsored by Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber, and replaced the lyrics with text drawn from Mayor Pete’s writings and announcement speech. We will be performing the world premiere of the new version, which shares its title with his book, ‘Shortest Way Home’.

“There’s a great deal of buzz in London about both the Mayor Pete connection and the new beatbox notation system, we’re happy to work with Nicola on both these undertakings, and optimistic about turning out great audiences for her work.” said Rees.

“This trip marks the end of a huge year for the group,” said Rees. “Up in the Air was featured on XM Radio, opened for Michael McDonald, did extensive tours through Ohio, Indiana, and Virginia, spent some time in the studio, and just a few weeks ago performed at the East Green Amphitheatre in town. I can’t wait to see what opportunities are out there for us in the coming year!”

Photo captions:

  1. Tiffin University’s Up in the Air, L to R, Mishele Matlock, Eli Johncox, Layla Pollock, Logan Jackson, Darla Arnett, Payton Hulsinger, Jayla Warren and Quinn Gray
  2. Brad Rees, director of Up in the Air & Tiffin University’s Executive Director of Arts Programs