Rose City barbershop chorus is welcoming new members

The Norwich "Rose City" Chorus
The Norwich "Rose City" Chorus Submitted photo

The Norwich Rose City barbershop chorus is looking for a few good singers.

The ensemble currently has two dozen members but is holding an open house Monday at Norwich's St. Mark Lutheran Church to encourage more people to join.

It's actually part of Harmony Week celebrations being sponsored by various members of the Barbershop Harmony Society, an international singing organization with 30,000 members.

This year marks the society's 75th anniversary and the Norwich chapter's 65th.

Ric Tetrault, who is in charge of Monday's event in Norwich, says the fun of barbershop singing is "it's pure music. It's unaccompanied. There's no band, there's no combo ... It's four voices joined in harmony. We don't need a lot of stuff. You can carry your musical instrument with you to rehearsal every week and not have to carry anything in your hands. Your musical instrument is with you all the time."

Monday's event will include performances by the Rose City Chorus and The Adventurers, who are former Northeastern District champions. Men and their spouses are invited, and refreshments will be served.

"We're looking for men who like to sing. We just love to have more voices because then we could sing more songs," Tetrault says.

Tetrault says that singing close the four-part harmony characteristic of the Norwich group isn't as difficult as it might seem to people who haven't done it.

"You don't have to be able to read music to sing barbershop. You don't have to be a trained voice - most of us are not trained voices. We just have fun," Tetrault says.

The Norwich Rose City Chorus - whose director is Steve Anderson - rehearses at 7:30 p.m. on Monday nights in Norwich. They put on a show each year and perform at other events. They have sung, for instance, the national anthem at Dodd Stadium and at a Connecticut Sun basketball game. They have performed for the Connecticut Town Clerks Association's annual meeting and at area rest homes.

The Norwich group has attracted plenty of loyalty - some singers have been members for upwards of 50 years.

Tetrault, who's been involved for 47 years, says, "In the early years, it was purely barbershop quartet, very structured, and now it's more fluid. And frankly I think it is good. The singing of the quartets and of the larger choruses has improved immeasurably. ... They even got modern Beatles arrangements."

A few years back, the Norwich group did a show called "Rock and Harmony" that featured arrangements of early rock songs such as "On the Boardwalk" and "Hello Mary Lou."

As far as Monday night goes, the Rose City Chorus is hoping some of the men who turn up will get the barbershop-singing bug.

"A lot of guys don't sing. Sometimes, they just need a little push to do it," Tetrault says.

IF YOU GO

What: Norwich Rose City Chapter's Harmony Week celebration

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: St. Mark Lutheran Church, 248 Broadway, Norwich

Admission: Free

RSVP: Ric Tetrault at (860) 889-7802 or (860) 823-8826

For more info: About the Barbershop Harmony Society, call 1-866-799-SING or visit barbershop.org

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