Society event and non-barbershop music
- Hello all -
Recently I attended a barbershop function, commonly
known as COTS, sponsored by our society as a training
weekend for chapter officers and chorus directors. One
of the features of the weekend was a Saturday night
show presented by a guest chorus from the district
where the event was held. The audience consisted of
chapter officers, some barbershop dignitaries, a few
friends and wives, and the faculty for the weekend.
With such a blue ribbon audience, one would expect to
hear on the show the very finest of barbershop music.
Alas! And alack! 'Twas not to be. Of nine songs
prtesented by the guest chorus, only one was near
enough to barbershop style music that it might have
been sung in a society chorus competition. I will not
make you throw up by listing the titles of their songs.
One has to wonder why the chorus would stray to such an
extreme from the barbershop style. I've heard the
excuse that we must sing more "modern" music to attract
younger singers. There were no younger singers in the
audience, which consisted almost entirely of society
members, with varying years of society membership. Why
should this chorus have inflicted upon us such grossly
inappropriate and non-barbershop music??
This isn't the first time I have heard guest performers
present highly questionable music to a thoroughly
barbershop audience. I recall another incident, at a
similar gathering, where a district quartet (the
then-current district champs, I believe) sang so little
barbershop that one might have thought we were
attending a "Grammy Awards" show of pop celebrities.
It's high time that guest entertainers were informed of
proper etiquette and good sense (something many seem
to have forgotten) in selecting music for a barbershop
audience. These same guests probably would not sing
"I've Got A Lot Of Livin' To Do" at a funeral, or
"Some Of These Days" at a wedding. Why sing music ( at
a barbershop gathering ) which has so little in common
with the barbershop style?
It's time that the folks who arrange these
entertainments, those who invite guest performers,
remind them that they ought to sing mostly barbershop.
If they're not willing to do that, the invitation
should be withdrawn. If our own international
officers and leaders are unwilling, too scared, or not
interested enough to do this, where is the future for
our society and for barbershop music??
In discussing the above described travesty with a
fellow commiserant, he said to me "There will always
be barbershop, and there will always be fellows who
love to sing barbershop - - - whether there is a
society or not." In other words -
barbershop will endure, with or without the society.
And that is true. Some consolation, I guess. Think
525 Conway Rd. #221
Azalea Park, FL 32807
- Plenty of meat, Charley! Well said.
Tulsa Founders Chorus
--- In email@example.com, "Charley Garrett"
> Burt, and everybody,common
> I'm not sure my post will have enough meat in it to be a significant
> contribution to this discussion. However, I think it may be a
> viewpoint that is understated in this conversation. It's justthis. I
> joined the Society because I like barbershop music. I didn't jointo become
> a museum curator. I sing this stuff because I like it better(generally)
> than that stuff. That's just the way my tastes go. I neverdecided that
> I'd never sing any other sort of music. That's just not going tohappen for
> me. I'll sing anything that I like, whenever I like, wherever Ilike
> (without forcing anybody to listen, of course). But I will notaccept the
> proposition that if I sing some Swingle Singers arrangement of apop-tune
> some time or other, that this will lead to the loss of barbershopmusic.
> I'll still be singing what I like, and the fact is that I likebarbershop
> arrangements better than most of the things these other people aresinging.
> I'm not a music historian either. I don't _know_ when a song waswritten, I
> just know when I like it. I can just recognize elements in themelody,
> harmony, lyrics, themes, and such that I like, and it turns outthat these
> happen to be barbershop features. When I'd figured that much out,that's
> when I joined the Society. To be a part of the group where thesort of
> music that I instinctively love is being made, where I can hear itat its
> highest levels of competence, learn more about it, participate init, both
> as a performer, as a novice arranger/song writer, a director, etc.The
> harmony market place where a few thousand arrangements can beobtained is a
> tremendous resource for the novice barbershopper, like me. We'vejust
> finished our "next to the last" Christmas sing out, another one onthe 16th.
> In preparation, we learned over 30 Christmas themed pieces. Asignificant
> number of them arranged by Burt Szabo, BTW. Thanks, Burt!extent
> So, I guess, the bottom line is that I "keep it barbershop" to the
> that I do, not because of some abstract philosophy, but justbecause that's
> what it seems like I like the best. I'm right there with Burt andCasey and
> them about, "if you're going to have a contest to see who's singingdon't sing
> barbershop the best, by gum, you have to deduct points if they
> barbershop", but for any other sort of a show, then there are 2parts: sing
> what you love, and try to pick stuff that your audience willappreciate.
> I'm only committing to keep singing what I love, and I think thatit will
> turn out to be a good percentage of barbershop tunes.
> Charley Garrett
> President, Columbus Georgia Chapter, SPEBSQSA, Inc.
> Director, Rivertown Barbershop Chorus
> Tenor, Wildwood
> Tenor, Latter Day Harmony Quest
> If I wished to punish a province, I would have it governed by
> philosophers. - Frederick II, the Great