Hawaiʻi Public Radio’s 2016 Atherton Summer Season closes on Saturday, September 10 with a unique, a cappella concert event in a double-bill presentation. Four ensembles from the Sounds of Aloha Chorus – Funny Bones, 19th Avenue, Resonance, and Wong Fu – will showcase a diverse repertoire that includes not only barbershop standards, but hapa haole favorites, Broadway and jazz numbers, patriotic songs, and more. Audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy these tunes, while learning about the history and musical characteristics of the barbershop art form. The first performance of “Sounds of Aloha: A Capella, Barbershop Style” in HPR’s Atherton Studio is at 4:00 p.m., with a repeat at 7:30 p.m.
Reservations may be made online at www.hprtickets.org or by calling the station (955-8821) during regular business hours. Tickets are $30 general, $25 for HPR members, and $15 for students with ID; service fees are applied to online orders. The Atherton Studio is located at Hawaiʻi Public Radio, 738 Kāheka Street. Doors open a half hour before each performance.
Barbershop is a four-part a cappella singing style that originated in African American communities in the late 19th century. The term “barbershop” is thought to come from the fact that barbershops at the time served as gathering places for African American men and thus became associated with their style of harmonizing. The four voice parts in a barbershop quartet or chorus do not necessarily correspond to the parts found in other choral traditions: the Lead generally sings the melody and, unusual for a melody part in choral singing, is not the highest voice; the Tenor, the highest voice, harmonizes above the lead, often in falsetto in male groups; the Bass typically provides the foundation that the bass part does in other unaccompanied choral art forms; and the Baritone in barbershop ranges as high as the Lead and is the harmony part that often completes the four-part chords.
About the artists
The Sounds of Aloha Chorus (SOA), under the direction of Mark Conching, is the Aloha Chapter of the international Barbershop Harmony Society. Members of the chorus range in age from teenagers to octogenarians and also comprise a number of quartets and small ensembles, including Funny Bones, 19th Avenue, Resonance, and Wong Fu.
For many years, SOA has produced popular Annual and Christmas shows and given numerous other public and private performances, frequently featuring the very best barbershop quartets in the world. The chorus has collaborated with many local groups, including the Honolulu Symphony, the Royal Hawaiian Band, the Hawaii National Guard 111th Army Band, DeShannon Higa’s Big Band Orchestra, the Diamond Head Theater Shooting Stars, the Castle Performing Arts Center, the USS Missouri Memorial Association, the Honolulu Chorale, the Windward Choral Society, the BYU Hawaii Concert Choir, the Honolulu Boy Choir, the Kapolei Chorale, the Honolulu Blend Show Chorus, Na Leo Lani Chorus, and many high school choirs.
Other accomplishments by the group include establishing a local young men’s barbershop chorus, 8zero8, and since 2014 holding an annual Hawaii Honors A Cappella Academy for high school- and college-aged men. SOA also is credited with having planted the seeds of barbershop harmony in New Zealand and in Japan, as well as having initiated the Pan-Pacific Barbershop Convention by organizing and hosting the first one in 1995. Over the years, the chorus has traveled to perform and compete in California, Oregon, Australia, and New Zealand.
19th Avenue has been featured in various live television and radio broadcasts, and numerous concerts including the Hawaii Theatre Center’s 2014 Hawaii Kalikimaka Christmas show, in which they arranged and performed an a cappella number with the show’s headliner, Robert Cazimero. 19th Avenue has a special commitment to music education and to introducing young people to barbershop harmony and other forms of a cappella music. The members of 19th Avenue, all leaders in the Sounds of Aloha Chorus, are: Bryce Irvine, Lead; Tom Hutton, Tenor; Rob Hartley, Bass; Mark Conching, Baritone.
Funny Bones is Hawaii’s only comedy quartet, specializing in funny songs and routines. Their humorous material includes numbers poking good-natured fun at the medical profession, hits by other comedic performers such as Weird Al Yankovic and Straight No Chaser, and novelty songs featuring their own pidgin lyrics. The group’s repertoire also includes some entertaining straight numbers. The members of Funny Bones are Mike Joor, Lead; Bill Joor, Tenor; Adam LeFebvre, Bass; and Glenn Crowder, Baritone.
Resonance is known for combining a smooth and mellow blend with a cool sense of rhythm to bring new life to jazz, swing, doo-wop, and pop music favorites. Resonance is the Sounds of Aloha Chorus’ quartet of longest standing and has performed its extensive repertoire for many audiences across Oahu. The members of Resonance are: Bobby Ing, Lead; Jonathan Spangler, Tenor; Phil Wee, Bass; Tim Hopkins, Baritone.
Wong Fu is known for its tight harmony with a flair for cool chords. One of the newer quartets on the block in Hawaiʻi, they evolved from a larger “VLQ” ("Very Large Quartet") to explore different kinds of songs that are rewarding both to sing and to hear. Extolling the philosophy that “variety is the spice of life,” Wong Fu especially likes to bring new life to old standards and to perform a mix of exotic tunes. While they are known for switching voice parts to produce a different blend or to perform a different kind of musical arrangement, the members of the quartet usually are Glenn Crowder, Lead; Noel Mau, Tenor; Jordan Wong, Bass; Ken Foreman, Baritone.