VTone hopes to make the city shine this weekend with its spring show “City Lights.”
Princeton’s first East Asian singing group, VTone, was founded in 2011 by Judy Sun’14, Kevin Leung ’14, Sophia Xing ’15 and Eva Weng ’15 with the intent of adding diversity to the already vibrant a cappella scene at Princeton. Four years later, the group now has 29 active members and performs in one arch sing and one onstage show every school year.
“The group was initially founded to provide diversity to the a cappella scene at Princeton by performing music of East Asian origins,” Xing, one of the co-founders, said in an e-mail interview.
While many people in the United States might only think of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” when they think of East Asian music, there’s a huge range of musical styles to explore. VTone has made it its mission to touch on as many cultures and historical periods as possible and performs both pop and traditional songs in numerous East Asian languages. The group has also included some English songs in its repertoire.
“Currently VTone performs English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese music,” Xing said. “In the future, VTone hopes to incorporate music from more cultures and elements of traditional Asian music into our performances.”
The group is currently preparing for its annual spring show, “City Lights,” which will take place thisThursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in the Wilson Black Box Theater. Intended to inspire people through music, “City Lights” showcases songs from many cultures and varies in mood and content, according to Xing.
“Our inspiration was to light up cities with our music,” Xing said. “This time we will be performing songs in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Mongolian and the songs all have different feelings.” She explained that the feel of each song is meant to reflect the city and culture that it represents.
To prepare for a show that features such a wide range of languages and cultures, VTone has made the process very open-ended. According to Xing, this allows the singers to choose which songs they would like to perform.
“We start with arrangers choosing/compose [sic] songs that they would like to work with and then do a two-way selection process to determine which vocalists and instrumentalists are performing which songs,” Xing said. “Regarding the songs, we usually try to strike a balance between the languages as well as a cappella versus instrumental-backed songs,” she added.
As a group, VTone providesthe Princeton community with opportunities to experience East Asian music beyond the few major hits that make it to the Western charts. The group also encourages newly composed music, Xing explained, and not necessarily a cappella music.
“We’re always open to including new forms of music,” Xing said. “Because we are a very new group and most of the members in VTone have background in both singing and playing instruments, we’d welcome anyone who is interested in creating new music.”