Traverse City Events: Voca People Invade City Opera House

Traverse City Events: What do you get when you combine a capella singing groups like the Nylons or Rockapella with space aliens? Apparently you get the Voca People. These refugees from the planet Voca, hidden behind the sun for millennia, have recently traveled to Earth to bring their musical message to audiences across the globe.

Now the eight white-clad members of the group are touring the U.S., including a stop at the City Opera House in Traverse City February 17, 2013.

“This is the first U.S. tour” for the group, says its emissary, Cindy Sibilsky, from Texas, where the group was performing, err, meeting with citizens.

Okay, the Voca People aren’t aliens. Nor are they mimes, though their appearance skews that way. Voca People is, in fact, a comedic vocal troupe that specializes in bringing together music and audiences from across genres and ages.

Done exclusively with the voice—no guitars or drums here, thank you—the Voca People use the entire range of the voice plus human beat boxes to recreate everything from Beethoven symphonies to Queen oratorios.         

And therein lies the group’s appeal, according to Sibilisky (who’s actually the executive producer and marketing person for the U.S. tour).

“The show is a musical journey … about the evolution of songs. There are 70 songs in 90 minutes—it’s good for the ADD crowd,” she said with a laugh.

The group performs medleys from the classical world to hip hop, from Mozart to Madonna. And Sibilsky says that breadth results in an engaging experience for every audience member, regardless of their age.

“It’s multi-generational. We say everyone from five to 95, grandparents and grandkids, any age will enjoy it.

“You wouldn’t (typically) see a 10- or 15-year-old at a classical concert or opera, but the medley is so rock and roll that they enjoy it. Grandparents can hear hip-hop in a totally unique way,” she said.

The group actually started in Israel, where Lior Kalfo and Shai Fishman merged their talents and ideas. Kalfo, a comedian and theatrical visionary, and Fishman, a multi-instrumentalist and composer, producer and arranger, put together a troupe of eight vocalists. Its debut in April 2009 on YouTube quickly gained a following.

From there, troupes spead across the globe. Now, after a three-month residency in New York City, the U.S. version is touring the country. Other Voca People groups are touring Japan, Germany, France and Israel. The group has received accolades from the likes of The New York Times and Jimmy Fallon, who called their performance “the coolest show ever.”

The group’s demeanor and stunning appearance—the members are clad entirely in white, including their heads, with bright red lips—is reminiscent of both mimes and Blue Man Group. Like the latter, it also engages the audience, though even more so.

“The whiteness is like a blank canvas. There’s a sense of discovery,” Sibilsky said.

And be aware, if you’re sitting near the front, you may end up the focal point of the show. “If you’re in the front row, you might get touched by an alien,” she said.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $30 and $45; student tickets are $15. Contact the City Opera House at 231-941-8082 or go to CityOperaHouse.org.

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