Remember the a capella group Manila Envy, one of the competitors of Anna Kendrick's Barden Bellas in Pitch Perfect 2?
In real life, the six-member Filipino-American a cappella group is called The Filharmonic.
The members are currently in the Philippines for a homecoming Christmas open-air concert to be held at the SM Mall of Asia this Saturday, November 7.
The Filharmonic—composed of vocalists VJ Rosales, Joe Caigoy, Trace Gaynor, and Barry Fortgang, vocal Bass Jules Cruz, and beat boxer Niko Del Rey—met select members of the press at their press conference on Thursday, November 5, at Potts Point in SM Mall of Asia.
The members expressed their excitement for the chance to perform in the country.
Joe told the press, “We’re so excited, I mean, like we started this group to show not just America but the world the Filipino culture, one country at a time.
“And to be back here, we just have so much support from everybody and it’s been amazing to be back here for our homecoming concert and just perform for everybody.”
What can fans expect from their show this Saturday?
“We’re really excited to show our fellow countrymen what we can do. We have a lot of dancing, a lot pop music, and we have a lot of Christmas songs. And, yeah, a few songs in Tagalog so we’re very excited.”
THE FILHARMONIC. Members of The Filharmonic initially competed against each other in different competitions in Los Angeles, California.
Jules, Niko, and Joe have known and sang with each other since college. The three met VJ, Trace, and Barry who were once members of other groups. Later on, these six talented musicians decided to form a group together.
The Filharmonic landed a spot on the semi-finals of NBC’s The Sing-Off in 2013 and placed 4th in the competition. Since then, the group has been able to share the same stage with Linkin Park, Black Eyed Peas, and Pentatonix.
Asked to name their biggest musical influences, VJ said it was Boyz II Men. He explained, "We always talk about Boyz II Men because we actually got to meet one of them, Shawn Stockman, on The Sing-Off. We were on Sing Off so we got to meet and work with him.”
This year, more people noticed their talent as they took part on the hit movie Pitch Perfect 2 starring Anna Kendrick, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, and many others.
Jules recounted how the group was tapped for a role in the movie. He said, “The producer from Pitch Perfect 2 is also the same producer from NBC’s The Sing-Offs which we’re also on.
“So when they we’re looking for an Asian group they we’re like, ‘Would you be interested?’ And I was like, ‘Of course, I’m interested.’”
As soon as they heard the news, Niko and the others also became excited for the project. He said, “Jules got the phone call and then he’s like, ‘We’re gonna be on Pitch Perfect 2.’
“We are like roaming the house and just started running around and we’re going nowhere… It’s like the biggest gift we’ve ever received right there so we’re so excited about it.”
When asked how it was working with the cast and crew of the Hollywood movie, Joe said they enjoyed working with the film’s director, Elizabeth Banks.
Joe told the press, “She’s so funny, she’s so cool, she’s fun. It was great working with her.”
Trace added, “Anna Kendrick, Hailee Steinfeld, like we got to all work with them. They’re all amazing.”
PINOY PRIDE. For most members of The Filharmonic, this is their first time to visit the Philippines.
Jules said, “I’ve been looking forward to coming here my entire life. I’ve heard so much about it with my family all the time.”
VJ added, “The people here are amazing. Everyone is so nice and so welcoming and we really appreciate it.”
Niko, on the other hand, was able to explore the country with his girlfriend two weeks ago. He recalled, “I went sightseeing with my girlfriend. We went to Taal Volcano and Villa Escudero and like eating lunch near a waterfall, it’s so beautiful. And rafting and hiking.
“The Philippines is so… I can’t describe it, like I can tell you, like we’re in Manila now but when you get to travel to the beach and stuff, it’s gonna take your breath away.
Trace said that he would also love to visit Cebu while Joe would like to experience the Dinagyang festival in Ilo-Ilo.
Joe said with a smile, “I want to go to the Dinagyang Festival. My Dad always talks about it so hopefully I’ll be there in January.”