We practice every Tuesday evening from 7.30pm to about 9.30pm.
We meet at the Marian School Hall, Clyde Street (entrance near the corner of Firth and Clyde Streets), Hamilton East.
Barbershop harmony is an a cappella (unaccompanied) style of singing with four voices. The ‘lead’ usually sings the melody, with the ‘tenor’ harmonizing above the lead. The ‘bass’ sings the lowest harmonizing notes and the ‘baritone’ provides the in-between notes, either above or below the lead to make chords (specifically, dominant-type or ‘barbershop’ sevenths) that give barbershop its distinctive, full sound.
We are a chorus rather than a choir, because of our strong emphasis on performance. Performing barbershop music incorporates movement, expression and emotion in order to entertain. Barbershop singing originated in USA in the 19th century, in barbershops and on street corners, in the tradition of recreational music. Barbershop is flourishing world-wide through the efforts of the Barbershop Harmony Society and its 30,000 members. Mighty River Harmony is affiliated to BHS via NZABS-The New Zealand Association of Barbershop Singers. There are currently over 400 members in New Zealand in 12 choruses.
In 1992 the Hamilton Hair Razors Barbershop Chorus was formed with Jill Rodgers as the Musical Director. Lloyd Smith, a former member of gold medal-winning chorus in US, The Vocal Majority, was instrumental in providing expertise and guidance in the style. The City of Sails Chorus provided help and encouragement.
Barbershop singing has some elements of a competitive sport, and in 1996 we were the champion New Zealand chorus. Attendance at the 1998 Pan Pacific Convention in Hawaii with 51 members was a major highlight for the Chorus. The Chorus changed its name to Mighty River Harmony in February 2003. We hosted the 1995, 2003, 2010 and 2015 NZ Conventions of Barbershop Singers at Founders Theatre. In 2017 we won the New Zealand Gold Medal again at the Pan Pacific competition in Sydney.
We use our rehearsal time to learn new songs and improve the performance standard of the songs already in our repertoire. We spend a lot of time trying to perfect our "craft" - all of the basic qualities of good barbershop singing.
At certain times of the year we concentrate on our "contest package" (the two songs that we will compete with at the annual competition), songs for upcoming public performances or songs for the season - such as Christmas. What happens the most at rehearsals is that we have loads of fun while helping each other to improve our overall performance to a level that will leave the audience exhilarated!