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New Ganaraskals needed for chorus

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today

SUBMITTED PHOTO
Members of the Northumberland Hills Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society are seen here at an Oshawa appearance in October 2017. The group, also known as the Ganaraska Chorus, always welcomes new members, and is holding a Membership Drive night Nov. 28.

SUBMITTED PHOTO Members of the Northumberland Hills Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society are seen here at an Oshawa appearance in October 2017. The group, also known as the Ganaraska Chorus, always welcomes new members, and is holding a Membership Drive night Nov. 28.

NORTHUMBERLAND -- Instead of their usual harmonizing on Nov. 28, the Ganaraska Chorus is reaching out to potential tunesters with a Membership Drive night.

This group is the Northumberland Hills chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, and treasurer Roger Wilson said their membership truly reflects their name. As well as from all over Northumberland, they are also getting members from beyond the county line, including several from Peterborough who have taken dual memberships with the Ganaraska group and the Peterborough chapter.

The group started out three years ago with maybe half a dozen men (including former members of the Port Hope chapter that had amalgamated with Peterborough). By the end of the year, they expect to have 30 -- but president Ted Devonshire said he'd like to see twice that number.

Meeting for rehearsals Tuesday nights, they have also begun getting more requests for appearances than they can realistically accept. Devonshire said they take each request to their membership and see how many can sign up (and also whether all four parts of their four-part harmony will be represented).

It usually ends up with maybe two performances a month, he estimated. November and December dates confirmed so far include performances for the VON and at a Port Hope Public Library Christmas event, a Cobourg Lions Christmas party and a candlelight service at the old church in Dundonald.

Recent appearances of note include performing at Cobourg's Canada Day celebrations and singing for Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell when Cobourg hosted the Ontario 55+ Senior Games -- Devonshire still recalls the look on her face, and on Mayor Gil Brocanier's, when they performed O Canada with a verse in French.

The group's amazing progress has caught the eye of the provincial organization, and members are starting to take some of these offices in addition to their chapter duties.

Wilson, for example, is now part of the Ontario leadership team a vice-president of chapter support and leadership and vice-president of marketing and public relations Rick Faulkner is working with communications at a provincial level.

Meanwhile, Faulkner continues with his weekly radio show on Northumberland 89.7, A Cappella Fellas Thursdays at 7:30 a.m., a chance to show what barbershop-style a cappella harmony is really all about.

"It's amazing -- people can't believe what they're hearing because they thought it was supposed to be four guys in hat and canes," he said.

"That's what we are trying to do through this event -- increase membership but also let people be exposed, to hear the style we sing."

It will also be a good opportunity to learn about the group's upcoming plans, like their annual show to be held March 24 at Port Hope's Capitol Theatre and another longer-range plan.

About a year ago, Devonshire said, a Mixed Barbershop Harmony Society was sanctioned, breaking 80 years of tradition where there were only separate male and female organizations. The major criterion, he said, is that there has to be at least an 80-20 gender split.

The first mixed chorus has already been established in Canada, based in Baldwin, Ont. The Ganaraska Chorus hopes to establish the second.

The chorus expects to welcome members of Harmony Inc. and two local Sweet Adelines groups to their Membership Drive night. And it's a secondary reason why individuals who accept the invitation for Membership Drive night are welcome to bring their wives. The couple can learn about barbershop harmony together, and who knows -- maybe both will end up joining.

Never mind if you can't read music, Faulkner said -- as long as you can carry a tune, you may be Ganaraskals material.

"We will voice-test you, put you into the right section, surrounded by guys that know your parts and will sing with you," he said.

"We also provide learning CDs for our repertoire with your part featured."

"For those who can, our music is on our members-only website," Wilson added.

The event starts at at the Hamilton Township Mutual Insurance Building at 1185 Elgin St. W., Cobourg. RSVP by contacting Faulkner at goldenthroat@hotmail.com or call 289-829-0901.

cnasmith@postmedia.com