By Ted AYALA
Think four-part a cappella vocal groups and you’re likely to think of barbershop music. Think “barbershop music” and you’re likely to think of the “Gay ’90s,” an era awash with bicycles, muttonchops, and handlebar mustaches.
A century has passed and not much has changed. Bicycles have enjoyed a considerable improvement since the Benjamin Harrison administration, but (ironic) muttonchops and handlebar mustaches are still going strong today – and so is barbershop music.
Well, barbershop styles have undergone a considerable change, too.
“Barbershop is our foundation,” said Diane Powell of the Verdugo Hills Showtime Chorus (VHSC), “but we also need to perform competitive songs for our competitions. So we perform everything from barbershop to the hits of today. That’s how we keep the tradition alive.”
The VHSC, still thriving after 50 years, is organizing and headlining a cornucopia of a cappella music this Saturday, Oct. 12 at Glendale High School. The show, titled “Moments in Time,” will bring together several all-female a capella groups including The Buzz and the Harmony-holics. The VHSC itself is comprised of members from across the greater Los Angeles area. Powell, who is in her first year of being the organization’s marketing director, has sung with them for five years and another 12 years with the VHSC’s parent organization, Sweet Adelines International.
“I just got hooked,” she said of the repertoire she sings. “I couldn’t believe how fun it is.”
Not that singing a capella is a piece of cake. Without a gauze of instrumental backing, singers can be cruelly exposed. Pinpoint intonation of pitch and synchronization of parts is a must. Practice definitely makes perfect here. But when these talents come together, the musical impact can be impressive
“When those chords ring true, when everybody is locked on that chord, you hear such beautiful overtones,” said Powell. “Because when it’s done well, it’s a fabulous experience to listen to.”
Saturday’s “Moments in Time” event will end with an evening concert of a capella music but will be preceded by a morning and afternoon of vocal coaching which begins at 9 a.m. Powell said that watching can be as rewarding as listening to the finished product. Her group is looking forward to learning a song within three hours on the day of the event.
“There’s that level where everybody enjoys what you do. Then there’s that level we take and make it sound even better,” she said. “We’ve never had so much fun working so hard.
“Moments in Time” begins with a vocal coaching at 9 a.m. The concert and competition begin at 7 p.m. and will be held at Glendale High School, 1440 E. Broadway in Glendale. Tickets are $30. To purchase tickets and obtain more information, call (818) 419-6360 or visit www.verdugoshowtimechorus.org. They can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.