Home Arts Friendship and Singing: Women’s Barbershop Chorus Wins at Regional Competition

Friendship and Singing: Women’s Barbershop Chorus Wins at Regional Competition

The Barre-Tones. Courtesy photo.
They’re known in our region for their singing telegrams and Valentine’s Day visits, but the women of the Barre-Tones also travel to competitions twice a year to test their mettle and to learn from other groups. 

On April 13, at a competition in Framingham, Massachusetts, their performance of “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” followed by Doris Day’s “Someone Like You,” won the Betty Costello Award for most improved chorus as well as the Rising Star Award. The Barre-Tones achieved the highest score of any small chorus in the competition and, finishing in fifth place, are now qualified for international competition in Louisville, Kentucky, in November. 

Bass section leader Susan Klein reflects, “We rehearse for months to prepare six minutes of singing. The work is the growth we see. It is truly medicine for the soul.” 

She notes the bonds of friendship that form on Monday evenings at the Capital City Grange, and the 50-year age range of the current singers. “Julia Morgan has been a member for 55 years, with other singers in their 30s and 40s.” 

Klein also relates a story about a last-minute (and successful) change right before the Area 2 competition: “When one of our members was not able to go, our director, Carol Hollenbeck, went from conducting to singing, impressing the judges with our ability to do so well without a director out front. It’s a testament to our trust in each other and our skill that we were able to sing so well on our own.” 

The Barre-Tones also participates in community events, including serving as gatekeepers at the famous Warren Fourth of July parade, as workers at charity relay races, and singing at community events and celebrations. And there are singing telegrams too. 

The Barre-Tones was founded as a primarily local group in 1969, but Klein notes that women now drive from other counties on Monday nights. 

“We’ve been rebuilding after COVID and invite new singers ages 12 and up to visit us anytime. Rehearsals at the Capital City Grange on Mondays are open and there are no auditions. You don’t have to read music — just have a good singing voice and be willing to learn. We make the learning accessible for everyone.” 

For more information, visit barretonesvt.com