Promoting lifelong singing is an important goal of Parkside Harmony, the Hershey, Pennsylvania, chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
“This is a group of people who we’re not professional singers. You have some teachers, some salesmen, and lawyers and auto mechanics, and then we come together once a week and we just sing together and I think that’s a really cool thing,” artistic director Sean Devine said. “No matter what kind of singing you do there’s all of these positive just life and health benefits.”
On Sept. 7, Parkside Harmony is joining the Frederick Catoctones, the local barbershop chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society and the Frederick Children’s Chorus for the Catoctones’ annual show, “On the Road: An Acapella Journey.”
“I think it’s cool for the young singers to see ‘this isn’t just something I can do while I’m in school, this is something I can be a part of for the rest of my life,’” Devine said.
The Barbershop Harmony Society was established in 1938 and is a nonprofit organization that provides programs and resources for performance, music education, community outreach and more.
Chuck Boteler, Frederick Catoctones treasurer and performer, said the group wants to bring contemporary barbershop style music to the Frederick community as well as showcase world class talent.
“I think that most people have a view of barbershop that’s very old-timey,” he said. “But there are a lot of really good arrangers out there that are taking a lot of today’s songs and putting them in a barbershop style so that they’re much more attractive to just the casual audience or the younger audience that might not be used to some of the older songs.”
Boteler said Parkside Harmony is “awesome.”
The group has about 50 performers and the Catoctones have about 20.
“They’re probably 50 to 60 guys that can really bring some interesting not only sounds but the way that they use their staging and the way that they use, you know, the risers and all. It’s very entertaining. They’re very good,” Boteler said.
The Frederick Catactones, first established in 1967, will be performing about 12 selections for the September shows.
The score will likely include “Rhythm of Love” by the Plain White T’s and several other songs that have not been narrowed down yet.
Parkside Harmony, bronze medalists at the 2018 International Convention in Orlando, Florida, will perform about 10 songs including “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel.
The Frederick Children’s Chorus, under the direction of Judith DuBose, will open the show.
John Rudy, Catoctones performer and vice president of marketing, said he’s excited to have the kids on stage singing.
Rudy said he was first introduced to barbershop chorus music in school just as his voice was changing.
“And so it’s like ‘okay these guys are guys, they know how to sing, they know how to sing in this new weird voice that I have.’ So I was really excited to find a home. And I’m hoping that we can be a home like that for some of the, you know, older kids here in Frederick,” he said.
Rudy said he’s also excited for Parkside Harmony to join the show.
“They are an amazing chorus ... and not just a chorus but entertainers,” he said. “They are really pushing the boundaries of what you can do on stage as this massive group of guys singing in extremely tight harmony.”
Catoctones director Roger Crist, who has been part of the group for about 39 years, said one goal is to bring their barbershop harmony to the community.
“Hopefully they’ll be entertained, enjoy what they hear and come back next year,” he said.
He’s also looking forward to the finale, where all three groups will come together to perform Tribute to World Peace by Jay Giallombardo, which includes “Let There be Peace on Earth,” “One Voice” and “One Song.”
“I just think it’s neat that a group like [Parkside Harmony], which is 55 to 60 strong, and a group like us, like 18 singers, and the Children’s Chorus, obviously youth, can all come together and put together a neat finale.”
Devine is also excited for the show’s big finish.
“It’s really a cool way for us to show each of the groups’ ... individuality and what makes each group special and then at the end we’re going to bring everybody together.”
Follow Hannah on Twitter: @hannah_himes.