This session featured the Great Northern Union Chorus, Crossroads Quartet, and Ringmasters Quartet in performances and discussions of barbershop singing as a lifelong activity. Great Northern Union has a long tradition of recruiting and retaining members of all ages, and their current group ranges from 16 to 81 years old. The presenters said that their strongest recruitment tool is singing barbershop tags. Tags are the coda of a piece which can be used to teach someone a part and get them hooked into singing in close harmony. The audience was able to participate and learn a tag, and were deemed “official barbershoppers” by the presenters.
The true sense of a bond across age groups was evident in their performance. Director Douglas Carnes said that he chooses repertoire that is musically appealing and relatable to the life experiences of all the men in the choir. The quartets and the chorus sang together on a final medley of songs that expressed the power of music. It was touching to hear the stories of members and how they connected across generations within the chorus. These men are living “A Life of Song,” and proving that barbershop music can appeal to all ages.
-Sean Gillen, IC ACDA '18
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