“Pitch Perfect” music director returns to Midland University for annual a cappella festival

Deke Sharon is on a mission to improve the world through singing.

Returning for the second a cappella day of Midland University’s tenth annual Festival of the Arts, the “father of contemporary a cappella,” known for his work as musical director and arranger of the “Pitch Perfect” movies, the NBC series, “The Sing Off,” and founder of the ICAA, will be back to share his message on Saturday, Feb. 22nd.

“I want everybody to know that singing is powerful, that it’s fun, and that it’s something you should do through your entire life,” Sharon said last year, moments before leading Midland’s a cappella choirs and students from three Nebraska high schools in a performance of one of his arrangements.

“For me, my life’s work is to spread harmony through harmony,” Sharon said. “I truly believe that our nation, and, in a lot of ways, our world is broken. People feel alone; they feel isolated. There are these deep divisions in our country that are getting deeper. I feel like I have the fix. I feel like I have this tool - this incredible thing that people did throughout human history and from prehistoric times, and that is singing together.”

Launched last year, A Cappella Day was designed to bring students together to compete in a celebration of song. After the huge success of the day, Sharon asked to return again this year. Sharon will lead a group of three judges who provide feedback and rate local high school groups.

Last year, Midland honored one performer from each group, awarding $75,000 in vocal scholarships to students who would choose to continue their love for a cappella in college.

Sharon sees the opportunity to participate in the performing arts as a way to build critical life skills. “When you’re really creating great art – in any of the performing arts – you’re working on different aspects of your life,” Sharon said. “You can do math alone. You can create science alone in the lab. With the performing arts, you’re doing something collaboratively. You’re understanding your own and other people’s emotions. You’re learning how to listen. You’re learning how the sum of the parts is bigger than any one individual. These are lessons and messages that are so impactful on anyone’s education and what they go on to do with their life.”

“Bringing exceptional educational experiences to our students is the pride of the performing arts,” said Assistant Director of Performing Arts, Kyle Thomas. “Just because we are a small school does not mean that the opportunities we provide to our students are small.”

Through events like Festival of the Arts, Midland University students are able to showcase their talents, enhance their college experience, and connect with the industry they are hoping to work in. Midland’s student-centric Performing Arts program provides students from all academic programs opportunities to grow, learn, collaborate, and live out their passions. Sharon’s visit was made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Through support from the university and the Midland Performing Arts Society, the performing arts are hoping to continue to bring world-class talent to Fremont to enrich students’ experiences.

“This is a great program. It’s a great school,” Sharon said. “I think this wonderful event is going to grow and grow to where they won’t even know what to do with it.”