Grand Chorale is professional-sounding without pretending to be professional
The 15-member Grand Chorale, a barbershop singing tradition in Grand County, will celebrate some of America’s most popular songs Aug. 13 at Middle Park High School in Granby.
Their 30th annual concert in Grand County will feature hits by the Beach Boys, John Denver, the Beatles, Leonard Cohen and Liza Minelli’s showstopping song from “Cabaret.” Older tunes, including Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and “Home on the Range,” give the chorus’s performance a greater historical flavor.
The group will perform pairs of songs that were presented one way back then but differently now, said Jeff Shaw, director and founder.
Barbershop vocal harmony, an a capella style dating back to the 19th century, is characterized by four-part chords structured around the melody. When all elements are sung correctly, the higher volume result is a beautiful sound called “ringing the chord.”
The Grand Chorale was formed in August 1988 with five male singers. Shaw is the last of the original five to remain with the chorus, which has grown to include six women and nine men. Over the decades since its inception, Shaw estimates some 80 singers have been chorus members.
Many current members have devoted their careers to performing, some of them as music teachers. Shaw played piano and guitar as a young boy, then sang acapella as a student at Princeton before joining a barbershop chorus in graduate school at the University of Colorado.
He is quick to note that the Grand Chorale doesn’t pretend to be professional. All members—including a 78-year-old hardware store employee with an incredible voice—volunteer their time to practice every week and perform in various venues throughout the year, highlighted by several concerts during the Christmas holidays.
“As long as you don’t freeze water when you sing in the shower,” Shaw said with a laugh, “you can sing barbershop harmony.”
The Grand Chorale concert will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at Middle Park High School in Granby. Tickets, $15, are available from Grand Chorale members and at the door on the night of the concert.
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