As the massive worldwide popularity of Pitch Perfect 2 has proved, a cappella is a force to be reckoned with in the world of music.
The Bucks County area will get to see and hear the power of one of the foremost niche practitioners of the musical form when the Jewish a cappella group the Maccabeats come to the area this weekend.
The group of 13 singers, which was started in 2008 by Yeshiva University undergraduate students, will bring their musical talent to Congregation Shir Ami on Aug. 23 at 6 p.m., courtesy of the Bucks County Jewish Coalition.
“We started as a bunch of guys who like singing and harmony,” said Maccabeats member Julian Horowitz in an email. “In fact, we’re still just a bunch of guys who like singing and harmony. But now we get to share that harmony and sing with crowds all over the world.”
Horowitz, 27, who has been with the Maccabeats since they began performing, is looking forward to being in the area again for the first time since 2013, when the group performed at the Chabad of Bucks County.
Performing is just one of their day jobs, Horowitz said. Members of the group also balance careers or studying to be “therapists, lawyers, architects, doctors, rabbis, teachers,” just to name a few.
The Maccabeats’ YouTube page is full of videos of their famous parodies, from a “Les Miserables”-influenced Passover story retelling set to the tunes of favorites such as “One Day More” and “I Dreamed a Dream,” to Chanukah satires — one of which, “Candlelight,” riffed off of pop vocalist Taio Cruz’s song “Dynamite,” has garnered more than 10 million views.
Horowitz emphasized that while the videos are an important component of the group’s performances, it’s not the whole message.
“I like to joke that for the Maccabeats, it’s Chanukah all year ’round. But our shows are so much more than our holiday parodies,” Horowitz said.
Though Horowitz could not give any hints as far as any new videos on the horizon, he did say the group is working on a lot of “exciting new projects.” Fans can expect work similar to what they’ve done so far, but also some that will be very different, he said.
Debbie Rosenberg, one of the co-chairs of the Bucks County Jewish Coalition, saw the Maccabeats at their last performance in the area. She said she thought they would be a great group to headline the community event.
“I enjoyed their music, first of all,” she said. “I enjoyed their vitality for what they were singing. They were a joy to watch and listen to.”
She said that since the Maccabeats have such YouTube-fueled name recognition in the community, she believed that their presence would bring people out.
“It’s a good community event because I think music is something that appeals to a broad range of people, Jewish music in particular,” she said. “So I believe that a Jewish music event would bring out people who might not ordinarily come out to any other kind of event.”
The Maccabeats stood out to her event co-chair Alan Sheinberg as well because of their talent as “terrific musicians.”
“They seem to have a crossover between modern music and Jewish music, and they pull the two together,” he said. “Their harmonies are great.”
Already, almost 400 people have RSVP’d to the event and they are expecting more to show up at the door, Sheinberg said.
The event is also sponsored in part by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which allocates $25,000 per year to each of the neighborhoods it supports. This was one way the Bucks County area used its grant.
Last year, they put the funds toward a program called Bucks County Night of Jewish Learning, which featured several rabbis teaching classes on a variety of topics of their choosing. The coalition also funded a youth basketball league.
This is the first time they are using the grant for a music event, Sheinberg said.
It’s a great event for the end of the summer, he added.
“I’m looking forward to a wonderful day and a wonderful concert.”
Horowitz is looking forward to returning to the Bucks County area for the performance.
“It’s been over a year and a half since we’ve last performed in Bucks County,” he said. “Last time around, the crowd was powerful and enthusiastic and we’re really hoping to share that same kind musical experience with our fans again this time.”
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