Club of the Week: Harmony A Plenty

By Jo-Marie Baker

"if a man can hold a tune, loves to sing in the shower or sings along with the radio, then we can teach him to be a barbershop singer."
And that is exactly what Harmony A Plenty president Fridolin Kathan, club spokesman Bill Butterfield and their fellow members would love to see happen.
"Our aim this year is to recruit new members so that we can have 40 men and compete in the higher-level large chorus division in the future," he says. "We believe the people of the Tauranga region deserve nothing less."
Barbershop harmony depends on four balancing sections - bass, baritone, lead and tenor - and when the voices of many men blend together as one, the result is spellbinding.
Harmony A Plenty began two decades ago after a public meeting was held at Baycourt to promote the craft of this internationally recognised style of singing. About 18 men attended the group's first rehearsal and they have regularly performed at venues across the Bay ever since.
Mr Butterfield says they often sing at men and women's clubs, Lions, Probus, Rotary, rest homes, retirement villages and hospitals.
"We also appear at corporate functions and private celebrations such as birthdays, Mother's and Valentine's days, and are also available for other public and charity concerts."
The chorus' repertoire covers a wide range of composition, from the '30s through to the present day.
Harmony A Plenty has almost two dozen members at present, ranging in age from 17 to 80. Mr Butterfield says there is a strong camaraderie among the group, and life-long friendships are formed. The chorus would like to increase the number of singers dramatically this year to improve their sound and presentation.


And with a little bit of tuition, most men find they are better singers than they think.
"If you can read music, that's a bonus, if not, don't worry," he says. "Every joining singer is issued with learning CDs and music and can master our songs in a few short weeks. Learning is progressive and learning words and music can be done at your own speed."
Harmony A Plenty has an "open-door policy" and everyone was welcome to come to its weekly rehearsals and have a look. "Hearing the chords ring is really something special both for the chorus and our audiences."
Last September the group won a bronze medal in the hotly contested small chorus division of the New Zealand barbershop championships in Hamilton.
Keen to build on that success, Harmony A Plenty recently received expert international tuition right here at home.
"The first was Joe Husstege, assistant musical director of the Big Apple Barbershop Chorus of New York, with whom we had two training sessions in singing techniques," Mr Butterfield says.
"The second was Theresa Weatherby, an internationally acclaimed tutor of choreography. They both helped us increase our skill levels in their chosen elements of barbershop performance."
Anyone interested in joining Harmony A Plenty can phone Mr Butterfield on 542 4191 or Fridolin Kathan on 571 6839. Alternatively, visit www.harmonyaplenty.co.nz
THE DETAILS
Name: Harmony A Plenty Barbershop Chorus
Number of Members: 23
Established: 1992
Meeting times: The chorus meets for tuition and rehearsal every Monday at 7pm in the Church Hall of the Bethlehem Community Church, 183 Moffat Rd, Bethlehem. All welcome.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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