I would wager the family farm (if I owned one) that not one in ten of you, dear readers, will know the meaning of this acronym: SPEBSQSA.
It stands for the original, and still official, name of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), founded eighty-one years ago, in 1938. Since that time, loads of odes of joy have rung out across the world as men and women of all persuasions have come together in harmony.
The acronym translates as: Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. Quartets still flourish, but barbershop singing has since expanded to include large choruses.
I mention this because a few years ago, a friend introduced me to the joys of singing in a men’s chorus—Harbourtown Sound, of Hamilton, Ontario. Eighty-five men strong, HTS is a competition chorus that was ranked twenty-fourth in the world in 2018, out of more than a thousand barbershop choruses worldwide.
The jubilant music the chorus produces can make the listener shiver with delight.
Just this past winter, that same friend invited me to join a second chorus—the Suncoast Statesmen, of Punta Gorda, Florida. This great group, comprised almost equally of American stalwarts and Canadian snowbirds, is a performance chorus, eschewing the competitive experience in favour of a more relaxed approach.
Nevertheless, the music the chorus creates is both joyous and memorable.
I’ve written before in these pages about Harbourtown Sound, and one of those posts may be found at this safe link—
If you missed it, or even if you’d like to enjoy a reprise, check it out. You’ll hear some wonderful music selections within the post.
The chorus, which this year is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, will present its annual spring show, Making Great Music and Great Friends, on 12 May at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.
The Suncoast Statesmen recently performed their annual spring show, Harmony Showcase, held in a large church in the area, before a sell-out crowd. The chorus sang nine songs altogether, five in the first act, four in the second. Between sets, a number of quartets and local high school student ensembles performed.
If you’re in the mood to hear some brilliant harmony, have a listen to these five songs, which may be found at this safe link—
Much has been written about the joys and benefits of singing, either alone or in an ensemble. For me, it’s a little bit like rainfall—once it starts, it’s hard to stop.