History

Over 70 Years of Harmony

Somerset Hills Harmony is the Somerset Hills Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society as well as a member of the Contemporary A Cappella League.  We are only one of two performing arts organizations in the world to share in such diverse membership.  While the current performing ensemble is relatively new, we have quite the history!

FOUNDING THROUGH THE NEW MILLENIUM

Way back in 1949 the Barbershop Harmony Society was known as its legal name: The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, or SPEBSQSA for short.  It was a clever satirical name created in 1938 to lampoon the acronyms of "The Big Deal".  The Somerset Hills chapter was founded to bring together men in the joys of singing in the barbershop harmony style both in a chorus as well as quartets.

For decades the chapter proliferated under names including the "Hounds of Harmony" and the "Somertones" serenading the northern-central region with four part close barbershop harmony.

JERSEY HARMONY EXPRESS (JHX)

In 2010 the group reached a critical point.  Membership had been dropping for some time, and the future of the group was in doubt.  With an infusion of some new leadership, the chorus took a different and innovative approach as the "Jersey Harmony Express".  The new ensemble of men featured an expanded repertoire including various genres of a cappella music including contemporary a cappella, classical arrangements, etc.  The group showed artistic success and sustained a loyal core of performers for the next eight years.

During this time the male voiced ensemble would periodically be joined by female guest singers and even a female beatboxer. Eventually, Jersey Harmony Express decided to admit its first female regular singer. However, there was a problem: The Barbershop Harmony Society, of which we were still members, was all male. So this was not an officially sanctioned step.


EVERYONE IN HARMONY - THE EMERGENCE OF SOMERSET HILLS HARMONY


In June 2018 the Barbershop Harmony Society opened its membership to all - finally breaking away from the vestiges of a male-only, exclusive membership base.  The "Everyone in Harmony" initiative finally allowed groups like the Somerset Hills Chapter, to officially welcome people of all walks of life into its membership.  This watershed moment inspired our leadership to take the group in an entirely new direction.

In the Fall of 2018 Somerset Hills Harmony was founded.  This new chorus was founded on principles of diversity, musical excellence, thrilling performances and thoroughly enjoyable rehearsals. We are proud to have been one of the first BHS chapters to elect a female performer and executive.

A DYNAMIC EVENT - THE GOLD DYNAMIC

Along with the evolution of the Barbershop Harmony Society to open its membership to all, as of January 2019 its chapters were officially permitted to be composed of more than one chorus or performing ensemble.  This subtle change would prove to be momentous for SHH.  The Gold Dynamic, a post-collegiate contemporary a cappella group located in Northern New Jersey approached SHH with a unique proposition - merger. Over the coming months the two groups seized upon the strengths of each and joined forces in September 2019.


COVID AND CHORAL QUARANTINE

With the change of the calendar from 2019 to 2020, the future for SHH looked extremely bright. The group was growing, had completed a year of multiple concerts, and was looking forward to its first convention/contest. Then Covid struck.  The group pivoted to three approaches designed to keep interest: Online Meetings (some singing, mostly educational/social), Virtual Performances (more than two dozen songs published), and then Hot Rods & Harmony (driveway choir). The latter development revolutionized a cappella choruses around the country and around the world.

WHAT'S NEXT for SHH?

As the world begins to emerge from Covid, Somerset Hills Harmony looks to a future of growth and innovation, making excellent music and entertaining audiences.





 
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