We’re pleased that you may wish to take steps to join the Nassau Mid-Island Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society -- the Long Island Harmonizers Chorus.  We’re proud to say that we’re the largest such chapter on Long Island and continuing to grow. Though our organization has changed names over its many years, one indication as to how long we’ve served the community is mirrored in our annual shows. The spring of 2016 brings us to our 66th. Even if you’ve only enjoyed singing behind a shower curtain until now as opposed to in front of a theater curtain, we invite you to come and listen to us at a rehearsal, participate, and apply to join. If you’ve sung during school days, in a choir or chorus, with a band – all the better. Barbershopping is fun! 

So make that first step. Here’s a few FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions):

 

Who are The Long Island Harmonizers?

For the Nassau Mid-Island Chapter of The Barbershop Harmony Society, formerly known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA), an active group of some 40 male voices, it has been a case of (local) "chapter" and many, many verses -- sung with a fondness for this type of four-part harmony for over sixty years. 
 
Repertoire sung in traditional barbershop harmonies ranges from old favorites such as "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and soul-stirring renditions of cherished patriotic music including "God Bless America" and an "Armed Forces Medley" to more recent music such as "Cabaret" arranged in the distinctive style of singing that led to the beginnings of the national society in 1938. Today, The Barbershop Harmony Society numbers nearly 22,000 members in more than 800 chapters from the U.S. and Canada with affiliated organizations around the globe. The Nassau Mid-Island Chapter -- with its chorus name "Long Island Harmonizers" -- is Long Island's largest. 
 

"Our devoted members come from all walks of life in the Long Island community and some of them have been singing barbershop almost their entire adult lives," notes George Seelinger, current chapter president. "If you like to sing,  we are the group you've been looking for, whether you've participated in barbershopping before, or would find it to be a brand new experience." "Their enormous joy and camaraderie in performing becomes immediately apparent whether audiences gather in local libraries, our park system, street fairs or large auditoriums. Listeners are at once caught up in the pleasures of the music, and it is difficult for them resist singing along -- something we encourage occasionally as part of our presentations that combine music, nostalgia, humor and a bit of participation." 
 
The Nassau Mid-Island Chapter, led for over 15 years by its talented director, Maurice Debar, has entertained at Shea Stadium, Old Westbury Gardens and Coe Hall, to cite just a few venues, and for a great many civic, fraternal and religious organizations. The energetic Chapter was honored in late 2005 with a citation from Thomas R. Suozzi, Nassau County Executive, for "selfless commitment to the community and its residents" on the 55th anniversary of singing by the organization as it is now known and under its original name. An Annual Show that sustains a chorus tradition is presented in the Spring, and is part of an active calendar filled with public appearances on Long Island. (Our 66th Annual Show takes the stage this year.)

 
The Nassau Mid-Island Chapter rehearses Tuesday evenings at Winthrop Hall Church of the Advent, 555 Advent Street (off of Post Avenue) in Westbury at 8 p.m. and those interested in becoming new members are welcome.
Phone 516-242-2059 for more information.

What awaits me when I first attend a rehearsal?

An enthusiastic welcome, for sure. After you meet our musical director, you’ll be placed in a section (tenors, leads, basses, baritones) comfortable to your voice and given a guest book with current repertoire. If you are not sure where to sit, our director will get a general idea of your vocal range, ask you a bit about your singing experience, and sit you accordingly. If you are shy and just wish to listen and simply observe for a while, that’s ok, too.  

 

Do I have to read music to join The Long Island Harmonizers chorus?

Reading music is always helpful, but it's not a necessity. You will have those around you and section leaders to help, “learning tapes” and CD are tools to learn music, and the talents of our music director in a rehearsal that will include vocal warm-ups and practice of current (and past) songs. Our four-part harmony songs range from old favorites to arrangements of more current melodies done in the barbershop style.

 

Is there an audition?

Not to worry. We do, of course, want you to be able to “carry a tune” whether you’re singing melody or a harmony line -- but initially all you’ll be asked to do is sing a few scales (to ascertain range and section placement) and a short extremely simple barbershop piece from a little book that contains what we affectionately call “Barberpoles.” You will sing one of the short songs with other voices backing you up.

 

If I like it, how do I join?

When you're ready to become a member, and if you pass your final audition and receive approvals by our music v.p., director and our board, our chapter secretary will assist you with the membership process. We're a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), and part of the Mid-Atlantic District. Annual membership fees include Society and District Dues, as well as nominal Chapter dues, a subscription to the Society's monthly publication, membership card, and copies of needed music. Performance attire will be discussed and plans made for yours.

 

What about barbershop quartets?

We have them, too. Official quartets (registered with the society), just-for-fun quartets that sing together for the sheer pleasure of it, and even spur-of-the-moment pickup quartets who ring a few chords together during break times, or after rehearsals.  A “Singing Valentines” program every February brings foursome combinations together in an organizational fund-raising effort. And, of course, our quartets sing as part of regular “sing-outs” and for our annual show during the year.

 

Can women join too?

The Barbershop Harmony Society limits membership to male singers but wives and lady friends are welcome to give support and attend events. (For those ladies who wish to sing barbershop, there’s the Sweet Adelines International.)

 

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