PennYo's origins date back to the spring of 2002, when a group of freshman friends at the University of Pennsylvania began meeting in order to sing Chinese songs familiar from their youth. Though most had limited musical experience, they nevertheless decided to make something of their mutual passion for singing and formed an a cappella group devoted both to Chinese oldies and newer Chinese pop songs. After performing for various student organizations and community events, PennYo held the first of its semester-end concerts, Autumn Blue , in the fall of 2002. From there, the a cappella group has gained a growing circle of fans and supporters, as well as official recognition in the Penn performing arts scene. We just celebrated our 5th anniversary during Spring 2007.
PennYo – What We Are
The name “PennYo” is a play on the Mandarin word for friends, “peng you.” This aptly sums up the group's philosophy of being a tightly knit circle of friends, beginning with the group founders. PennYo members have hailed from the United States, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and even Hungary. Yet the group has managed to foster an all-inclusive, eclectic culture that is uniquely PennYo.
The group shares a mission to bring the sounds of popular Chinese songs to the United States through a cappella. The process is not so much a direct replication of existing music as it is an evolution into a new form—a form, which the group hopes will appeal to existing fans of Chinese music, as well as those who have never been exposed before.
What is “Chinese a cappella?”
Chinese a cappella is a fledgling phenomenon which PennYo is helping to initiate in the United States. Our source material is drawn largely from the contemporary Chinese pop music scene. PennYo then takes these songs to new dimensions by filtering them through all-vocal arrangements and also by mixing American pop songs into the background.
Though PennYo sings primarily in Mandarin, it has also performed songs in Taiwanese, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and English. We strive to celebrate the richness and diversity within Chinese culture, as well as the international influences which have infiltrated the Chinese pop mainstream. Songs in the PennYo repertoire come from artists such as Taiwanese pop singers Jay Chou and David Tao, Cantonese superstar Jacky Cheung, Singaporean diva Stefanie Sun, classic Chinese singer Theresa Teng, Korean artist Shin Seung Hun, and Japanese a cappella group Try-Tone.
Where We Are Going
Having established itself as the newest phenomenon in the Penn a cappella scene, PennYo is now expanding beyond the borders of its campus. We had a Shanghai Tour where we performed at multiple colleges and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Our next step is to plan a California Tour of the colleges there. We also produced our first album, Emergence, in fall 2005 and now in Spring 2008 our second album, Luminar is here!