Chorus of the Comstock annual concert to unite young and old
Appeal Staff Writer
As part of their effort to introduce young people to barbershop quartet singing, the Chorus of the Comstock is singing along with quartets from around the region as well as the Carson High School chorus.
“One thing we’re trying to do is to share our art with the younger generation,” said Rook Wetzel, a member of the Chorus of the Comstock. “It’s important to preserve this art form.”
The Chorus of the Comstock, a 38-strong male chorus that breaks off into barbershop quartets during the year, will perform its annual concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Carson City Community Center.
“Barbershop and Then Some” will include performances by the CHS chorus; Harmonium, another chorus; barbershop quartets Tahoe Blue, which placed ninth in the Western District competition, Late Show, which finished 13th in international competitions, and Wild Cards.
Another quartet that will perform is a group of teens called KAP’D, with each letter standing for the first name of a group member.
KAP’D began as CAP’D last year by Chris Funk, 19, who formed a barbershop quartet as his senior project.
Wetzel said young people who do discover the a cappella harmonies of barbershop quartets usually become enthusiastic.
Funk is the newest member of Chorus of the Comstock, which sponsored his quartet in a regional competition and CAP’D finished third in the Western Region, covering Nevada, California and Arizona.
“I sing bass,” he said. “The bass line is kind of like a second melody.”
The members of CAP’D decided to stay on after Funk graduated, finding another singer and leading to the spelling change.
Jim Crowley, director of the group, took over in November 2006, when it had only eight active members. It now has 34.
“We’ve been singing well, and that’s what brings them in,” he said. “Singing a cappella is a very demanding form. We take the time to do it right.”
Wetzel said the main characteristics of barbershop quartet music is wholesome lyrics, “and the lead must be easily sung by the average person.”
All of the singing is a cappella, Wetzel said, and the songs date back to the turn of the century, before recorded or amplified music.
The group will start with the National Anthem, joined by a color guard from Carson High’s Naval JROTC.
Other numbers include “God Bless America,” “Caroline,” “Wait ’til the Sun Shines, Nellie,” “Hi Neighbor,” and, of course, “Sweet Adeline.”
Though the chorus is actively seeking younger members, the oldsters still are the majority.
Bob Wise, 82, has been with the group the longest, since 1969.
“It’s a good hobby and I like the camaraderie,” he said. “Singing is also good for you, good for your health.”
The Chorus of the Comstock has two tenors, seven or eight baritones and about 20 bass singers, Wetzel said.
“Tenor voice carries so nicely it doesn’t need many,” he said.
The chorus is a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, also known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing Inc.
“They called them barbershop quartets because these guys knew all these songs, and on Saturday they would go to the barbershop and get a shave and a haircut and hang around there and sing,” Wetzel said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.
If You Go
WHAT: “Barbershop and Then Some” concert, featuring the Chorus of the Comstock, the Carson High School Choir, KAP’D, Harmonium, Tahoe Blue, Late Show and Wild Cards.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St., Carson City
COST: $14 for adults; $10 students
CALL: (775) 885-1480