Back to Pentatonix

Originally Published: 10/22/2013
Pentatonix living the dream
The young a capella group set for a concert at Kutztown University.
By Susan Shelly
Reading Eagle correspondent

With 1.5 million subscribers to their YouTube channel, a new EP about to be released and a European concert tour set to begin next month, the young members of Pentatonix are living the dream.

"It's just so much fun to be able to do what we're doing," said Scott Hoying, 22, lead vocalist of the contemporary a capella group that's grabbed the attention of a large and loyal fan base. "It's seriously been the most exciting two years of our lives."

While three of the five members of Pentatonix grew up in Arlington, Texas, and have known each other for most of their lives, the full singing group got together just two years ago when they auditioned for the third season of the NBC reality show "The Sing-Off."

To make a long story short, Pentatonix ended up winning the season, launching them on a wild ride of success.

"If someone had told me two years ago that this would have happened, I would have thought they were out of their minds," Hoying said during a recent phone interview.

The group will perform Saturday at Kutztown's Schaeffer Auditorium as part of the university's homecoming celebration. Before you get excited about going, however, the show is sold out.

"This has become a major event on campus, with the artist selling out Schaeffer Auditorium within the first week of classes," said Robin Zaremski, director of KU Presents!, which is presenting the show along with the Association of Campus Events. "People are coming from New York, Baltimore and Ohio to attend."

About Pentatonix

Named for the pentatonic scale, a musical scale with five notes per octave, Pentatonix got its start at Martin High School in Arlington, where Hoying, Kirstie Maldonado and Mitch Grassi were students.

The trio decided to try out for a local radio contest by singing an a capella version of "Telephone," a song recorded by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé Knowles. The prize was a meeting with the cast of "Glee."

"We thought that would be fun," Hoying said.

They didn't win, but their performance got other students talking, and they began singing together.

Hoying and Maldonado soon went off to college, but the three were reunited when Hoying in 2011 learned about "The Sing-Off" and persuaded Maldonado and Grassi to join him.

It turned out that five was the minimum number of performers needed to compete in the reality show, so Hoying rounded up Avi Kaplan, who he met through a mutual friend, and Kevin Olusola, who he discovered on YouTube.

Meeting just one day before the show auditions, the quintet hit it off and, as they say, the rest is history.

The group since 2011

Pentatonix has already released two EPs: "PTX Vol. 1" and "PTXmas," both of which debuted on Billboard's Top 200. Their third EP, "PTX Vol. 2," is set for release Nov. 5.

"PTX Vol. 2" contains eight tracks, four covers and four originals, Hoying said.

The group began touring in September 2012 and has maintained a busy tour schedule. Kutztown is one of its last U.S. shows for this year, as the group will start a nine-stop European tour on Nov. 12.

Tickets for six of the nine European shows are already sold out.

Pentatonix relies heavily on social media to keep its fan base energized. The group's YouTube channel, PTXOfficial, has more than a million and a half subscribers and more than 126 million views.

Hoying said using social media keeps the group out there and in touch with its fans.

"There are so many reality shows now that it seems like the second you're off of one, people forget about you," Hoying said. "But we can keep ourselves relevant by using social media."

Since 2011, members of Pentatonix have appeared on numerous TV shows, including "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, "The Katie Couric Show" and the "American Music Awards Red Carpet Show."

Their music

While each member of Pentatonix has his or her favorite musical genre, their voices blend flawlessly to create a unique and arresting sound.

Musical influences include pop, jazz, R&B, folk, classical, electronica, indie and dubstep, all of which combine for the group's signature sound.

"Basically, we all take our own music and blend it together," Hoying said. "We end up getting to do lots of different kinds of music while staying true to ourselves."

Putting their music together is complicated, he said, and their performances appear effortless only due to very long hours of practice.

"It becomes effortless just because we know it so well," Hoying said. "Our arrangements are really very complicated, and we work very hard to get them to be perfect."

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