Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Kiwi quartet hits right notes to rule world

The Musical Island Boys barbershop quartet wowed the judges. Photo / Dan Wright
The Musical Island Boys barbershop quartet wowed the judges. Photo / Dan Wright

A Wellington-based barbershop quartet has proved they are the world's best, winning the international barbershop championships in Las Vegas.

The Musical Island Boys are the first New Zealand group to be named International Quartet Champions. They appeared at the 76th Annual Barbershop Harmony Society Convention at the weekend and are only the second group from outside the United States to win.

The A cappella quartet - Jeff Hunkin, 27, and Marcellus Washburn, Matt Gifford and Will Hunkin, all 28 years old - were yesterday travelling back from the competition still on a high from Saturday's win.

The Musical Island Boys, formed 12 years ago when they all attended Tawa College together, won the title from 52 other international acts.

Bass singer Gifford told the Herald they were excited about the win and the opportunities it held for the group.

"There was a feeling in the auditorium amongst the 8000 people that were there that they really wanted the Musical Island Boys to win so when the announcement was made there was an overwhelming overture of applause." It was a great end to a tiring five days where the quartet had to perform six songs during three rounds in front of 15 judges.

"We are still very much on cloud nine, that's for sure, and we will be stuck here for a while," Gifford said.

The group was expecting more demand to perform in the US and has already been booked to play their next international performance in Shanghai in October, before returning to the US to play in New Orleans and on a cruise ship in January.

The group made enough money to cover their expenses, but not enough to make it their sole occupation and had to arrange performances around their full-time jobs. However, Gifford said the Musical Island Boys already had a strong following.

The group won the international collegiate division for under 25s at the same competition in 2006.

In perfect harmony
*The Musical Island Boys have been named the International Quartet Champions at the 76th Annual Barbershop Harmony Society Convention.
*They are the first New Zealand group to do so.
*The A cappella quartet formed 12 years ago when they all attended Tawa College together.
*There were 52 other international acts in the competition.

- NZ Herald

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