SOUNDwaves September 2022

Type of post: Newsletter
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: David Wiener
Status: Current
Date Posted: Thu, 1 Sep 2022

“We don’t sing our parts, we harmonize. We are one.”
So spoke Jim Henry during our day-long coaching session recently. Dr. Henry, the distinguished director of Ambassadors of Harmony, is a two-time BHS International quartet champion bass, and a four-time international chorus champion director.

A 44-year member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, Dr. Henry was born into a barbershop family—both his father, Bob Henry, and mother, Rose Manion, were barbershop singers. He joined the Society in 1975 at the age of 11 as a member of the Daniel Boone Chorus, which later changed its name to the Ambassadors of Harmony. He became the director of the Ambassadors in 1991 and went on to lead the chorus to fifteen medals including four gold medals.
The coaching session was arranged through our director, Jordan Travis, and carried out through the work of chorus manager Vic Linka and his committee. In addition to the chorus members attending the session in person, four members sat in for all or part of the day on Zoom.

After warmup exercises, the session concentrated solely on our two contest songs, The Song Is Ended and I’m Off to See My Sweetness, with both Dr Henry and Jordan leading the assembled members.
“Leads lead, and others harmonize,” Dr. Henry told us. “In doing so, we don’t force the sound, we flow air through the air tube. Therefore, it’s essential to keep the tube open and relaxed.”

Through a well-received mix of humour and pointed instruction, Dr. Henry guided us repeatedly through both contest songs. Every section of the chorus received coaching and had its turn to demonstrate what he was asking us to do. Most importantly, he brought us together to blend our parts in a way designed to complement each other, leaving us with that critical piece of advice.
“We are one!”

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As our audiences know, Harbourtown Sound is already an internationally-recognized, a cappella chorus known for musical excellence, a drive for achievement, and an ability to engage and entertain audiences. We attempt to achieve our vision through hard work in three areas: singing/performance quality, brand awareness, and membership growth.
In order to achieve our singing and performance goals, we implement a number of initiatives, which include: singing skill techniques; individual and small group coaching; and the provision of tools such as learning tracks and external coaching.

As part of our plan for improvement, we employ a recording program to support our individual and group development and help us achieve the progress we envision. This Rehearsal Ready recording program is designed to encourage every singer to learn individually, so he can contribute to the group’s weekly rehearsal from a position of readiness.
The Music Leadership team identifies songs for which each member is asked to submit recordings to their section leaders, with notes, words, and rhythms accurate to a set standard. The recordings are evaluated, and once the standard of accuracy is achieved, the member will stand on the risers at rehearsal when we sing that particular song. Until a member has submitted a recording that meets the standards, he sits out that song to observe and learn from the chorus work.
The Rehearsal Ready program will foster individual growth by implementing an accountability
expectation for everyone, and will help the chorus reach its true potential for excellence.

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Jordan Travis, our renowned music and artistic director, was awarded a Gold Medal at the recent International Competition of the Barbershop Harmony Society in Charlotte NC. The medal was for his coaching with Music City Chorus, the gold-medal winning chorus at this year’s competition.

In addition to his position with HTS, Jordan works with several other choruses and quartets in a directing and coaching role. This latest accomplishment merely reinforces how fortunate we are to have him as our director.


During the summer, Harbourtown Sound performed in two major singouts. The first was in Woodstock on 16 July, where we sang a number of songs for about forty-five minutes at a summer festival, and then enjoyed the rest of the afternoon with a well-deserved afterglow.

The more recent performance was at the Concert in the Park in downtown Burlington on 24 August, a more formal setting than the first, where we sang a dozen or so songs from our repertoire during an hour-and-a-half-long appearance.

Assistant Director Scott McCarthy led the chorus in a well-received performance in front of a large audience. Two chorus quartets---Rip Chords and Hindsight---performed, as did Jamie MacPherson and his banjo, David Fry and his guitar, and Ben Sproule in a solo.

At both singouts, we enjoyed meeting many friends and family members, and the appreciative reception we received from the audiences made it more than worthwhile.
Some audio clips from the Burlington singout are available at the end of this newsletter for your listening pleasure.

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Earlier in the summer, chorus manager Vic Linka and his team arranged another fundraising effort in conjunction with MacGregor Meats, the tenth year we have done so. We sold almost three hundred boxes of frozen meat and fish.

The work would not have been possible without a terrific committee of volunteers---Dave Wiener, Jim Taylor, Richard and Nel Johnstone, Sandy Todd, and Dave Clark. Harbourtown Sound thanks all of our families and friends who helped us by purchasing these wonderful products.

Over the years, the chorus has contributed a portion of our fundraising endeavours to worthwhile community organizations.

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Ted Byers, President

Jordan Travis, Music Director

Scott McCarthy, Assistant Director

Mark Yung, VP Secretary

Jim Taylor, VP Treasurer

Vic Linka, Chorus Manager

Jim Boyd, VP Marketing

Brian Cameron, VP Membership

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After a recent performance, one of our more ardent fans asked how much it would cost to purchase a singing ensemble.
You mean a choir?” I asked for clarification.
Oh, sorry,” he said. “I mean acquire a singing ensemble.”

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With thanks to David Fry and Megan Whittington---

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