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Late night harmony in Murray Hill
by Neal Siegal for Vocal Area Network
Posted June 1, 2005

Big Apple ChorusNearly every Monday night in New York City at 10:15, about seventy men pour out of Norman Thomas High onto 33rd Street, smiling and singing, no matter how crummy their day was. Sometimes they'll gather there, in front of the school (between Park and Lex), and break out into spontaneous, full-fledged barbershop four-part harmony to the surprise and delight of the late night passers-by. Applause ensues and the group disbands gleefully into the night.

It's part of a 25-year weekly post-rehearsal ritual for the men of the Manhattan Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society and the Big Apple Chorus.

The 125-man chapter is a not-for-profit, performance oriented, musical society. It's open to all men who sing. The chorus is one of the most esteemed and competitive among the Society's 30,000 worldwide members. The chapter also includes a couple of internationally renowned and several lesser-known barbershop quartets.

Though the Barbershop Harmony Society endeavors to preserve the songs from the first half of the 20th century, the Manhattan Chapter takes pride in its cutting edge approach, applying four-part harmony to songs from the Swing Era through today's popular standards. Their performances include original arrangements of Gershwin and Porter alongside works of Steven Foster and W.C. Handy.

These men are passionate amateurs, but the chapter's performance schedule, training and musical standards more closely resemble those of a semi-professional group. They concertize throughout the tri-state area and will be competing at the International level this summer in Utah.

On June 4, chorus representatives and quartets will be appearing at the Murray Hill Street Fair on 35th Street (between Park and Madison), kicking off a membership drive called "U Can Sing 2". For more information, visit www.bigapplechorus.com or call 212-Big-Appl(e).

Neal Siegal sings with the Big Apple Chorus. This is his first article for Vocal Area Network.

Content Contact: Neal Siegal.
Revision Date: June 1, 2005.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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