Feature Story Sunday, April 7, 2013
Those Magnificent Mellifluous Men
Chilliwack Harmony Chorus turns 75 in style
Chilliwack Harmony Chorus singers put on a memorable performance at City Hall Tuesday.
he buzz last week was that Chilliwack Harmony Chorus (CHC) just turned 75-years-old. In celebration of that, Barbershop Week from April 7-13 was created.
To mark the occasion, CHC members paid a euphonious visit Tuesday to City Hall where they crooned to councillors in chambers during the regular afternoon meeting council meeting.
Back in the 1800's, long before television and radio, barbershops were command central in every frontier town. They were the hubs of every community. When you wanted to know what was going on, you went down to the barbershop.
It was out of that era of crusty gold miners and raucous saloons, that a distinctive and popular style of singing A capella emerged called Barbershop, which is three parts harmonizing to a fourth voice singing the melody.
Nowadays, there are only a smattering of groups working to save and pass on, this part of North American musical heritage.
CHC is a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, do their share of work.
They practice regularly, and the group have added Sweet Adelines (women) to it's contingent of singers.
Prior to the mini concert, CHC director Lloyd Johnson, told council there are over 800 chapters of the Barbershop Harmony Society in North America with about 24,000 members throughout North America, down from it's peak at 38,000.
"The Chilliwack chapter began in 1985 and we've seen our membership go up and decline. We are missing a few members today, but we are still active in the community," he said adding "the Barbershop Harmony Society contributes to charitable organizations, or charitable causes. We support music education in our schools and communities and we're happy to be here today to present our style of music to you."
The whole is equal to the sum of it's parts and in speaking to the group after, Mayor Sharon Gaetz equated the harmony of barbershop singing to how the community functions together.
"The uniqueness of barbershop singing, and how every single part makes up the whole, and one without the other is just not complete, from the deepest bass to the highest tenor and I hope that's a reflection of what our community actually is. How we all need each other in order to shine and have that beautiful sound come forward."
"I think that what this really shows to us is there's a while lot of variety in our community and different musical tastes and different skills and I want to thank you for lending your skill to this community."
I know that you do it, every Monday night you have practice at Christ Lutheran Church at 7 o'clock, and I understand that you're looking for new members always, so if there is someone in the community that really enjoys singing and can sing on tune, that's apparently a prerequisite , then to please come on out and enjoy these wonderful gentlemen and learn new skills.
The CHC has faced challenges over the decades, but after three-quarters of a century, the group proved they are as strong and vibrant as ever with three songs.
At the mayors request, the men concluded their cheery performance by serenading a blushing councillor Jason Lum with a rendition of Happy Birthday.
Chilliwack Harmony Chorus is always looking for new men and women to join the group. They practice at 7 pm Mondays at the Christ Lutheran Church at the corner of First Ave. and Charles St.
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