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 it 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 of inflection.  Director Charles Ross and President Win Winter were concerned about the future of the group.  Christian Hunter joined the leadership team and the chorus took a new direction 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 with beatboxing to classical arrangements of Eric Whitacre.  The group showed artistic success and sustained a strong core of performers for nearly a decade.

During this time the male voiced ensemble would often be joined by the talented ladies of member Don Staffin's family, with his wife Chris and daughter Rachel often leading with solos and daughter Ariel surprising audiences with her crafty beatboxing.  This success led Jersey Harmony Express to an epiphany - harmony in the chorus, and membership, should not be limited to men.


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 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.

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.


Now featuring a diversity of membership, music and performance styles, Somerset Hills Harmony and Gold Dynamic are quickly becoming the go to destination for a cappella singing and performances in New Jersey and the New York Metropolitan area.