ProMusic Festival returns for 18th year

Tiffin University’s music department is hosting its 18th annual ProMusic Festival today and Friday at The Ritz Theatre, 30 S. Washington St.

More than 25 school jazz bands, choirs, vocal jazz groups and pop a cappella groups have registered for the event. Professional artists are to join TU student ensembles in performances during the day today and Friday, culminating with an 7:30 p.m. concert Friday by KRNFX, with TU groups opening.

The featured headliner, Terry “KRNFX” Im, is a beatboxer, live-looper and vocalist. Hailing from Toronto, KRNFX (pronounced “Korean FX”) Im is a multi-instrumentalist, having performed and studied on drums, piano and flute. As a beatboxer, he was a finalist on the first season of “Canada’s Got Talent” and has performed on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and BBC Radio 1’s “Live Lounge.”

This year’s festival, in addition to various pop and jazz musical styles, is to focus on live looping, which is the recording and immediate playback of music in real time, allowing musicians to create multiple layers of musical elements that together create the impression of a full band or large group.

“It’s a practice that’s been around a long time, since recording decks with loops of audio tape were used to achieve a similar effect,” said Brad Rees, TU’s music department director. “Digital looping has been around a while, too. In fact, we featured live-looper Kid Beyond at our festival almost a decade ago, but at that time, looping equipment and software was expensive and complicated, so not many musicians used the technique. Nowadays, however, musicians can perform as individuals and create music that only a larger group could do in the past.”

KRNFX and guest artist and saxophonist Noah Peterson are presenting workshops in live looping techniques.

Friday, high school vocal groups will get to work with several guest clinicians, including Peterson, New York jazz vocalist Aubrey Johnson and a cappella studio producer Tony Huerta, producer for some of the top vocal groups in the world and leader of the group Urban Method.

Johnson will present a workshop on jazz singing and Huerta will discuss the basics of live audio engineering. Rees will be joined by fellow TU music staff Nathan Santos and Rob Ciesluk in adjudicating ensembles and presenting workshops.

This year’s festival also showcases TU’s newest touring ensemble Mode III. Directed by Tiffin University artist-in-residence Jeanette Berry, Mode III specializes in hip hop and funk music, and features two vocalists, an emcee, guitars, a beatmaker and a horn section.

Today, jazz bands from area schools will perform at The Ritz, including Columbian, Seneca East, Hopewell-Loudon and Clyde high schools. TU ensembles and guest artists also will be presenting performances and workshops throughout the day.

Friday, vocal groups from across Ohio perform at The Ritz, beginning at 8 a.m., including high school ensembles from New Riegel, Fremont Ross and Oak Harbor. At 5 p.m., Mode III is featured at The Ritz and, at 7:30 p.m., KRNFX will be joined by TU’s Up in the Air, DFX and Higher Ground.

Daytime performances are free. Tickets for the Friday evening concert are $10, available from The Ritz box office at (419) 448-8544 and at the door.