The A Cappella Barbershop Club is looking for ways to gain and keep members, while also getting ready to compete in Reno, Nevada.
The International Barbershop Harmony Society hosts a midwinter event every year.
It is a convention and competition for male youth choruses and senior quartets.
The A Cappella Barbershop Club at La Verne attended the event in Long Beach the year the club first had a chorus.
This semester, the club struggles because they are no longer a class and lacks members.
“It can be hard sometimes because you can’t hang a grade over someone’s head,” said senior biology and computer science double major and president of the club David Vorobyov. “We want the members to want to be there and to prioritize their time correctly so they can be there at rehearsal.”
The club needs to have a certain amount of people to be able to go to places, so they’re pushing to have a consistent number of memberships to be able to go to Reno.
Right now, the club is made up of 13 men and 15 women. The club needs at least 12 men who can commit to attending the conference in order to compete.
If they compete with less than 12 men, the club has to pay since the society takes care of the hotel costs.
“There are a lot of people involved in music, both vocalists and instrumentalists,” Vorobyov said. “We’re working to create an environment where it’s friendly, where people want to be there, and we want to introduce barbershop to musicians and non-musicians alike. That’s why we have our tag night events.”
The club has never done events besides concerts, but this semester they decided to find ways to keep membership and gain membership. Tag nights is one of the ideas they came up with.
Tag nights occur when the club goes to a restaurant to eat and sing tags, which are the ending part of a song.
They can vary from four measures to eight or 16 bar measures.
“It really is an easy way to get somebody introduced to what barbershop is,” Vorobyov said. “It’s very chill, there’s no pressure.”
The first quartet began three years ago when the club’s adviser, voice workshop instructor Carol Stephenson, wanted to start a quartet on campus.
“At the time, there wasn’t many musical options for the students, and I was trying to get more excitement around vocal music,” Stephenson said. “I was really in love with barbershop, so I hand selected a few guys.”
Stephenson asked Vorobyov to be one of the people in the starting quartet, which was all men.
He sang tenor in his first year, but then changed to bass.
A year after the quartet formed they began to receive attention. The male quartet had already performed a concert and a women’s quartet began as well.
The two groups got together with Stephenson to talk about making choruses so more people can be involved.
That is when they decided to merge so they can have more events and funding.
“We decided to merge so we wouldn’t have to have funding for two barbershop clubs,” said senior music major Sarah Alonzo.
She is also the secretary of the club and sings tenor.
“The music department cut off funding from barbershop programs unless you auditioned to be a part of the school’s quartet.”
Merging the clubs also allowed the men and women to collaborate more, Alonzo said.
In addition to expanding the club, they are focusing on finding what conferences there are for women.
Alonzo said there are choruses in the area, like the Harborlites Chorus in Huntington Beach.
“They’re a full-on women’s chorus and they do things like only sequins, only glitter costumes,” Alonzo said. “They’re very good and they compete in competitions all the time. We want to get to that level.”
However, the school’s location does not provide many opportunities.
“For us it’s very difficult because we don’t have as many opportunities,” Alonzo said. “We try to collaborate with Harbor Lights or other women’s choruses so they can help us fundraise or they can donate to our chorus so we can go and compete as well.”
The club’s next concert is Dec. 11 and will be holiday and Disney themed.
Celene Vargas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.