ABINGTON, Pa. — With so many forms of music vying for earplay these days, how does barbershop compete? Turns out there is no need for concern since barbershop choral groups remain among the world’s most popular.
On Sunday, March 5, the public is welcome to experience these dynamic layers of unaccompanied four-part harmonies when the Country Gentlemen Barbershop Chorus of Bucks County performs a free matinee concert at Penn State Abington.
Bob Gualtieri founded the Bucks County chapter of the Gentlemen in 1983.
“Although our audience tends to be a little older, the most recent findings tell us that the influx of 19-year-old singers has been mind-boggling, probably due to the surging popularity of a cappella music on college campuses,” Gualtieri, the chorus spokesman, said.
And the generation-crossing lure of a cappella groups such as Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser doesn't hurt either.
"The influx of 19-year-old singers has been mind-boggling, probably due to the surging popularity of a cappella music on college campuses."
— Bob Gualtieri, Country Gentlemen
Gualtieri notes that there are 50,000 members of barbershop chorales worldwide, including 25,000 in the United States. One reason for barbershop’s appeal is what Gualtieri calls its expanded sound, not just the typical quartet but layers of vocal parts sung by people who “bring the joy of music to our audience.”
"Younger people really relate to this and really eat it up,” Gualtieri said.
The County Gentlemen perform perhaps a dozen concerts a year, engage in regional competitions, and offer free singing lessons as a community service. They perform holiday carols and Singing Valentines.
At the March 5 concert at Abington, expect to hear standbys including “As Time Goes By” and “Beautiful Dreamer,” as well as “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and a medley of armed forces anthems that Gualtieri says always moves the audience to tears.
The Country Gentlemen Barbershop Chorus of Bucks County will perform at 2 p.m. on March 5 in the Sutherland Auditorium. Free admission. The concert is part of the Cultural and Community Events series sponsored by the college.
Penn State Abington, formerly the Ogontz campus, offers baccalaureate degrees in 18 majors at its suburban location just north of Philadelphia. Nearly half of our 4,000 students complete all four years at Abington, with opportunities in undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more. The Lions Gate residence hall will open in August.