Barbershop quartets and choruses from across Alberta are meeting and competing in Red Deer May 27 – 29.
Ron Whittemore, promotions director with Red Deer’s own Wild Rose Harmonizers, which is organizing the annual conference, says the best part of the get-together are the public performances and competitions on Saturday, May 28.
“In the morning the choruses compete and in the afternoon it’s the quartets. It varies from year to year but we’re probably looking at six to eight choruses (which can be as large as 40 to 50 people) and 20 or so barbershop quartets.
“We’re still waiting on final numbers. The quartets are drawn from the choruses during the winter when guys get together and say, ‘I’ll sing bass if you sing tenor.’ They end up forming pretty close friendships,” he says.
“The icing on the cake is Saturday evening at 7 p.m. when we have the Champions of Harmony concert with 100 to 125 performers, all the guys in all their regalia get up and sing three or four numbers. It’s neat. When I heard it the first time it was unbelievable. It’s very impressive.”
Whittemore, who’s been singing with the Harmonizers for about five years, describes himself as a relative newcomer to the activity.
Members range in age from their early 20s to 80.
“I would say the number one reason that guys join is that they love music and really want to sing. The other component is social. The quartets and choruses develop a real camaraderie. We’re having fun and that’s what it’s all about.”
Wild Rose Harmonizers belong to the Barbershop Harmony Society, an international organization with especially active chapters in Canada, Great Britain, the United States, Australia as well as in various other countries around the world. Thousands of men around the world sing in barbershop quartets and choruses.
The competitions on May 28 at Crossroads Church are open to the public.
Tickets ($20 for the evening concert, $10 for morning and afternoon events) are available at the door or from Whittemore at 403-347-2145.
Anyone interested is taking up barbershop or choral singing can also give him a call or drop into the group’s weekly practices Tuesday evenings (7 to 10 p.m.) at the Davenport Church at 68 Donlevy Ave. in Red Deer.