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Arts & Entertainment

A Cappella for Academics: The TONICs join Drexel’s TrebleMakers at the Academy

February 29, 2016

Professor Youngmoo Kim, director of Drexel’s ExCITe Center, singing with the TONICs

Professor Youngmoo Kim singing with the TONICs

The TONICs, a post-college men’s a cappella ensemble, which includes in its number George Gephart, president of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, and Youngmoo Kim, director of Drexel’s ExCITe Center, will celebrate its 25th season with a concert on March 5. They will be joined on the Academy’s stage by Drexel’s women’s a cappella group, the TrebleMakers, and also by the William Penn Charter School’s Quaker’s Dozen.   

“Our goal is to show off the best and breadth of a cappella singing,” said Gephart, one of the founding members.

He’s not kidding. The TONICs are an all-male adult ensemble and the TrebleMakers are all female Drexel students. The Quaker’s Dozen are a mixed group of high school students. The result is an impressive display of everything a cappella can offer.

Gephart, a lifelong singer, started the TONICs because he could not find a small men’s a cappella group when he first moved to Philadelphia. 

“The real founder is my wife,” Gephart said. “She grew tired of me complaining and told me to stop whining and start a group of our own.”

Since its founding 25 years ago, the TONICs perform 8 to 10 concerts a year, ranging from the main stage at World Café Live to singing the national anthem before Phillies games. Professor Youngmoo Kim joined the group not long after the Academy merged with Drexel.

“We have five medical doctors in the group, but the academic caliber of the group rose exponentially with Youngmoo – our first PhD!” Gephart said.

The TONICs consist of 16 members, five of whom handle the complex arrangements of the rock and pop songs that make up their set list. Gephart himself had a hand in arranging the TONICs’ version of The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” and Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby”, both to be performed on March 5th.

“‘Behind Blue Eyes’ starts with four parts. Then it splits into six,” Gephart said. “Partway though the song we carve off the three of us who can sing as high as girls to create a ‘descant trio,’ just to put a haunting elegance to the song. In addition to all that, there’s a soloist and a duet. This arrangement is typical for us. That’s why we need 16 people!”

The March 5 concert promises to be a joyful celebration of the human voice. Gephart is very excited to have not only the TONICs but also the TrebleMakers and the Quaker’s Dozen performing at the Academy.

“I do a lot of presenting on that stage; it’s my home,” Gephart said.  “Please join us!”

Tickets are on sale at tonics.ticketleap.com