UCSD Tritones sing with Taylor Swift at ACM Awards

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Photo courtesy of Darryl Sarzaba

Photo courtesy of Darryl Sarzaba

The rumors were true. UC San Diego’s a cappella group, the Tritones, was personally selected by country music sensation Taylor Swift to perform with her live on the Academy of Country Music Awards this past Sunday, April 18th. Taylor Swift discovered the Tritones on YouTube with their rendition of her ACM-nominated song “You Belong With Me”.

The performance took place at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena and aired live on CBS.

The Tritones was the first a cappella group created on campus at UCSD. This year, composed of 16 singers, the group won first place at Regionals and made it to the International Competition Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) Semi Finals.

The ACM required 30 people for the group to perform, so the Tritones reached out to alumni as well as UCLA’s a cappella group, the Scattertones.

Darryl Sarzaba, a UCSD graduate and alumni Tritone, spoke of his experience with the talented group. “It was my outlet to sing my heart out with a bunch of good people that also shared the same passion for music. Singing with the Tritones was definitely one of my most memorable college experiences.”

Sarzaba sang with the Tritones his senior year. Many of the students have been singing with the group all four years of their college career.

Last Wednesday, the Tritones had their first rehearsal with Taylor Swift’s band and then finally with Taylor Swift herself in Las Vegas.

“She talked to us and gave us hugs. She seems like a really nice, humble person,” Sarzaba said, “and of course she’s cute.”

Swift, who had to leave Las Vegas that day for an upcoming concert in Los Angeles, returned to Las Vegas for another dress rehearsal on Sunday right before the Awards show.

The Tritones, who are hardworking UCSD students after all, embraced the rare and exciting experience but still managed to keep their priorities in line. According to Sarzaba, the balancing of fun and work took a lot of time on the road.

“We left San Diego at 11AM on Wednesday and arrived in Vegas around 5PM, then rehearsed 6PM to 9PM and then drove back to San Diego that same night. A lot of us had midterms, classes and work we had to get back to for Thursday morning. But we came back on Friday to rehearse more,” Sarzaba said when asked about the experience.

Many Tritones had to get shifts covered at work to be able to spend the weekend in Vegas. Sarzaba explained that they’re “dedicated to their responsibilities,” and then added, “but how many times in your life does your group get to perform with Taylor Swift? School and work is important but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Although Taylor Swift did not win Entertainer of the year (Carrie Underwood won), the performance was pretty spectacular. Swift flew over the crowd while singing “Change,” then quickly transitioned into a more exciting, black outfit as the machine landed. She was lowered into the audience and then followed by some crowd members—whom I thought would be the Tritones. Suddenly Swift is rocking out on stage and a huge curtain falls, revealing a fresh looking group of singers—our very own Tritones.

The Tritones’ surprise unveiling midway through the song was an exciting and proud moment for Tritone friends and family watching from home.

“I’m glad for the exposure the Tritones will get. Hopefully this will bring a cappella singing to a whole new level,” Sarzaba said.

Awesome job, Tritones!

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