Barbershop Old but New Again

Harmony Express is an a capella men’s chorus featuring the barbershop style. Founded five years ago in Germantown, Harmony Express performs at sporting events, retirement homes, civic organizations, town festivals, restaurants, private parties and other venues. Besides offering entertainment, Harmony Express tries to contribute to the quality of life for all county residents. In August, the chorus provided strolling quartets each day at the Montgomery County Fair. In September, Harmony Express produced its First Annual Show at Kreeger Theater, Jewish Community Center, Rockville. The Second Annual is planned for Leisure World this fall.

This blog will be a means of keeping up with events and opportunities at Harmony Express. It will also give a bit of the history of barbershop harmony as an a capella style, and put flesh on the claim that barbershop is “old but new again.” Most people, if they think about barbershop, picture the Buffalo Bills in the 1962 film The Music Man. In fact, barbershop doesn’t sound very much like that any more. The image is still good clean fun, but the style has evolved in response to changing times.

The website, Harmony-Express.org, is loaded with information for the curious. Visitors will also find a not-so-subtle invitation to attend a rehearsal and see for themselves what barbershop harmony is all about.

Dave Byers, a county resident for almost 40 years, is President of Harmony Express. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota, and taught Freshman English in three states before pursuing less challenging career opportunities. This experience doesn’t do much for his singing, but helps with writing a blog.

Partner Blog for Barbershop Old but New Again

What's Up in 2015 (VIDEO)

Chapter_Poster for Celebrate Gaithersburg

Harmony Express will be performing all around Montgomery County this year. We will be doing our usual quota of charitable concerts at retirement villages from Rockville to Silver Spring. As far as public concerts is concerned, the chorus is already scheduled to sing at festivals in Gaithersburg, Takoma Park and Burtonsville, and every day at […]

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Our Slipping Demographic

Harmony Express Chorus

Given the popular image of barbershop singing, you’d think Harmony Express’ demographic, the age profile of our members, would be slipping toward the past.  In fact, it’s leaning into the future.  Our two most recent members are 15 and somewhere around 35.  Of the guys currently preparing for auditions, one is about 50, the second […]

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Harmony Express Annual Show a Winner

chorus

I’ve been neglecting this blog of late, under the pressure of other business.  Just can’t keep up! I’m happy to say that Harmony Express’ Annual Show, given in matinee and evening sessions at Leisure World was (a) a lot of work and (b) a great success.  Our men sang well both in costume as Depression-era […]

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Harmony Express Annual Show Set for Sept. 13

photo of Harmony Express Barbershop Chorus

Montgomery County’s Harmony Express will present its second annual show on Saturday, September 13, 2014. Show times are 2 and 7:30 p.m. The location is Leisure World, Clubhouse 2, 3330 N. Leisure World Blvd, Silver Spring Maryland 20906. This year’s show, entitled “Rags to Riches,” opens with a skit set in the Great Depression and […]

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The Glen Echoes

glen echoes

Most barbershop choruses have embedded quartets that perform with the chorus and on their own.   Singing in a chorus requires some natural gifts, and some skill and training.  Singing in a quartet is a step beyond, requiring skill plus the commitment to spend hours every week refining your craft. Harmony Express is fortunate to have […]

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Handsome Reward

handsome reward

Most barbershop choruses have embedded quartets that perform with the chorus and on their own.   Singing in a chorus requires some natural gifts, and some skill and training.  Singing in a quartet is a step beyond, requiring skill plus the commitment to spend hours every week refining your craft. Harmony Express is fortunate to have […]

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Harmony Express Summer Performances

photo of Harmony Express at fair in 2013

Harmony Express will be doing its a capella-in-the-barbershop-style thing at several community festivals this summer. Everyone within the sound of this blog is invited to come see if we really exist, and are really as good as I make us out to be! First up is Kentlands Day on Saturday, May 3.  We kick off […]

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Barbershop Harmony: The Context

photo of WPA poster on barbershop contest

Harmony Express is a barbershop chorus with deep roots in the history of American music.  While the roots of barbershop harmony are not entirely clear, scholars suggest that it emerged from the African American community in the late 19th century, about the time that same creative community gave birth to jazz and the blues.  Is […]

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The Barbershop Harmony Society

Harmony Express Logo Bright

Barbershop is one of the three most colorful threads in the fabric of a cappella harmonizing in America.  Religious a cappella (“in the manner of the chapel”) music goes back many centuries (see my 3/19 post), and the repertoire of thousands of choirs across the country still includes such unaccompanied pieces.  High school and collegiate […]

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Barbershop is A Cappella

show5

There’s not a piano, guitar, fiddle or orchestra in sight when barbershoppers do their thing.  Singing without musical accompaniment is called a cappella, an Italian phrase meaning “in the manner of the chapel.”  It refers to an early Christian belief that God’s praises should only be sung, not sounded on instruments.  Over the centuries, both […]

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