Lydia Jenkin: Island harmony a winner

1 comment
The Musical Island Boys barbershop quartet.
The Musical Island Boys barbershop quartet.

First the unmitigated success of cheeky operatic trio Sol3Mio, and now the Musical Island Boys become a world champion barbershop quartet?

From the outside, it seems like a sudden coincidence that young Polynesian people are taking the world by storm in the most Palagi-est musical forms there are.

What's got into them?

But the truth is, they've been darn good at this singing business for a very long time, and whichever path they head down -- traditional choral groups, barbershop, opera, musical theatre -- that talent comes from a joy they find in singing together from a young age.

If you've ever wandered round the stages at a Pasifika festival, you'll have heard the stunning singing en masse from people of all Pacific Island nations, and that doesn't happen just in church.

They've taken their talents far and wide into New Zealand schools, and taught everyone else a thing or two about the power of voices joined in soulful harmony -- so much so that the annual national high school Big Sing competition has been dominated by Pacific Island medleys and songs for the last few years, regardless of where the singers are from or their ethnic background.

And then they've learnt a thing or two about styles of music that have their roots in the Western world, like opera and barbershop, and proved they can be the best at that too.

Barbershop might seem like a style that would be full of overly cheesy, earnest Americans, unlikely to appeal to a bunch of Island boys from Wellington. But the interesting point about the Musical Island Boys (who formed 12 years ago at Tawa College and won the gold medal at the 76th Annual Barbershop Harmony Society Convention in the United States lawst weekend) is that it's their cheeky, charming, natural performance manner which has made them such an international hit.


Sol3Mio.

The same goes for Sol3Mio, and other Pacific-born opera stars like Jonathan Lemalu, and Nick Afoa (who's currently playing Simba in the Australian production of The Lion King).

They may seem like slightly stuffy, overly dated musical forms, but these guys are finding humour, soul, and joy in them and reinvigorating the appeal for a new generation.

- TimeOut

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 22 Aug 2014 12:05:53 Processing Time: 572ms