Cultivating Creativity: Stirring times for local barbershoppers

By Jack Evans

Fall brings the start of a new season for A Cappella Quinte, the local chapter of the international Barbershop Harmony Society.

Founded in 1972, the chapter was a successor to the former Belleville Barbershop Chorus, which folded in the 1960s after about 10 years. Thus the history of barbershop quaretetting in Belleville goes way back. Even before the local barbershop chorus, there was a large men’s choir active in the city and a famous Belleville foursome formed the Belleville Radio Four Quartet and went on to record professionally.

The revival of barbershopping in 1972 was under the name of The Trentones, based at Trenton, directed by the late Ray Williams. The name was changed to A Cappella Quinte a few years ago to reflect the revival of that form of singing and also the chapter’s official title. Today’s chorus continues to reflect the entire Quinte area, drawing members from Brighton to Napanee and Highway 7 to Wellington. The chorus numbers around 30 members and is directed by Lynn Brown from Port Hope.

In recent years, the city has become a key barbershop hub, hosting Ontario District conventions for several consecutive years, drawing participants from across Ontario and judges from all over North America and abroad.

This year’s annual show by A Cappella Quinte, chaired by Ray Doyle, also marked one of the biggest of its kind in the chapter’s history, with two all-Ontario and world class champion quartets as guests, Ripple Effect, a mix of men and women, and Yonge Guns, both based in the Toronto area. The appearance of a mixed quartet was reinforced with a local octet comprising four men and four women singing The Music Man show hit, Lida Rose. The chorus contributed such favourites as Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.

Over the next few months, the chorus will consider a move to open membership to both men and women, under a new policy adopted by the international organization. Implementation of this is up to individual chapters. Meanwhile, men 18 and up are welcome to visit and check out the fun and excitement of singing a cappella (unaccompanied) harmony.

The club meets Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in the back hall of Maranatha Church on College Street West. No special training is required. The entrance is on the northeast corner of the church, with abundant free parking. For more information, visit acappellaquinte.org.