Dartmouth High Harmonix heading to Boston to compete in PBS singing competition

Feb 6, 2019

Dartmouth High’s Harmonix a cappella group is getting its largest stage to date: A spot in WGBH’s Sing That Thing! competition.

The 24-member group will head to Boston on Friday to compete in season five of the competition. The group is one of 18 to secure a spot in the competition among high school, college, and adult singing groups.

Harmonix began six years ago amid growing popularity of a cappella through the reality TV show “The Sing Off.” It is led by Dartmouth High’s Chorus Director, Juan Rodriguez.

“It was a hot trend, and my students said to me, ‘Hey, let’s start a club,’” Rodriguez said.

At first, the after-school club started with only 10 girls, and stuck to performing at high school events like graduation. But in recent years it has grown in popularity, and as of this fall is now a full in-school class.

“We started branching out and singing for the community,” Rodriguez said, noting Harmonix has performed at the Council on Aging and other venues in town.

Performing on television in Boston is the biggest venue to date, Rodriguez noted. A close friend, whose group won the competition last year, introduced Rodriguez to the show.

“I had never done a competition before so for the heck of it we sent in a video,” Rodriguez said.

The video, of Harmonix’s performance at the high school pops concert, was enough to get the group a spot. With several days left to rehearse the group’s two-minute performance, Rodriguez said there is a sense of nervous excitement in the classroom.

“We’re doing really well, but there is a lot of unknowns because we’ve never done anything like this before,” Rodriguez said.

Taping of the group’s initial performance is scheduled for Friday. The three-person coaching team made up of Boston-area music experts will select one group from each division — high school, college, and adult — plus a “wild card” group, to perform on the Grand Finale round.

The show will premiere on April 12 at 8 p.m. on WGBH 2 and PBS channels across New England.