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Barbershop chorus sings old, new songs

Harmony Brigade to present ‘I Believe in Music’

April 8, 2012
By JOE SUTTER, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

The Harmony Brigade Barbershop Chorus will present its annual show at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at Decker Auditorium. For 65 years, the chorus has been bringing the sound of unaccompanied male voices in four-part harmony to Fort Dodge.

As usual, the group will bring in some outside talent to spice things up.

"We normally try to get top-rated quartets," said Del Brandt, assistant director.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
The Harmony Brigade Barbershop Chorus members sing out at the close of a song in preparation for Saturday’s concert. Assistant Director Del Brandt leads the rehearsal in the absence of Clair Nemen. The choir features about 21 men from Fort Dodge and the surrounding area singing a capella four-part harmony.

Da Capo from Washington, D.C., and After Hours from central Illinois will join the show this year. Both quartets were semi-finalists at the 2011 International Barbershop Convention; After Hours placed third in the convention's collegiate division.

"They're excellent quartets," said brigade member Ted Bodensteiner. "You have to line these people up over a year ahead to get them in your show."

The concert will include songs from the guest quartets, the full choir, and three local quartets of choir members. Those groups are called Two Squared, Four Shades of Gray and Dreamchasers.

Fact Box

If you go:

What: "I Believe In Music"

Who: The Fort Dodge Harmony Brigade Barbershop Chorus

Guest Performers: Da Capo, of Washington, D.C.; After Hours, of central Illinois

When: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Decker Auditorium, Iowa Central Community College

Tickets: General admission $10 in advance, $12 at the door; students $4 advance, $5 at the door

Available at: Hy-Vee; or by mail, send check and self-addressed envelope to Harmony Brigade, P.O. Box 302, Fort Dodge, IA 50501

Contact: Daryl Larson at 576-7341 for more information.

There will also be a bit of a story tying the songs together.

"Generally, it's not just straight-out standing there and singing. We have a little storyline that goes along," Bodensteiner said. "Usually it's an originally written script to introduce the songs."

Brandt said he directed the group for three shows before turning the group over to the current director, Clair Nerem. He said the Harmony Brigade is the largest a capella group around.

Bodensteiner said there are about 21 men in the group. Half are from Fort Dodge, while the rest come from the surrounding area - Goldfield, Thor, Badger, Humboldt, Clare, Gowrie, Webster City and Eagle Grove.

Brandt said one surprising thing about the group is that perhaps only a third of the members could read music.

"We use learning tapes," he said. "This is so you can play the songs when you're in the car, to learn the words and music outside of practice."

He said some people thought not reading music would be an obstacle to joining, but it's not. Anyone can come and join in making music, he said, even some who say they can't sing can learn.

"I ask people, where do you do your singing? In the shower? The car?"

Greg Sampson tried to describe what sets apart the barbershop sound from other styles.

"This is a style created in 1936," he said. "There's nothing else like it. This is different from other a capella groups. The chords have to have a certain structure to qualify as barbershop."

Of course, he said, all the different groups bring something a little different to the performance.

Bodensteiner agreed. He said that the group was moving away from the word barbershop and including more general a capella tunes. Either way, there is something about this style which he said is quite appealing.

"Once you're in, you're hooked," he said.

The choir will be at two other events Saturday.

A?dinner will be served from 4:3 to 6:30 p.m. at Quality Inn, 2001 U.S. Highway 169. Cost is $10.

"That's also the site of the afterglow. After the show each of the quartets comes back and sings some more songs, and people can drink and eat and be merry. There's a small charge to get in. It's just to let your hair down, visit with the quartets and hear some fun songs."

Contact Joe Sutter at (515) 573-2141 or lifestyle@messengernews.net

 
 

 

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