Diamond Harmony is barbershop celebration

Seventy-five years of a unique American a capella art form will be celebrated at the Harmony Brigade Barbershop Chorus’ annual concert April 13.

The Brigade is Fort Dodge’s chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, which turns 75 this year.

“Our chapter show, the Diamond Harmony Celebration, will be a part of a nationwide celebration of barbershop close harmony music,” said local singer Ted Bodensteiner.

The concert features the full 21 member choir, three local quartets and two visiting award-winning groups: ‘Round Midnight, of New York City, and Progression, based in St. Louis.

The Harmony Society began in 1938 in Tulsa, Okla., Bodensteiner said.

“It was started by 24 guys who wanted to preserve the unique four-part barbershop sound,” he said.

That first Tulsa group impressed Fort Dodge local Herb Dick, who was actually a barber. He brought the sound back here and founded what would become the Harmony Brigade.

“The uniqueness of barbershop is the tenor, or the top note, is a harmonizing note rather than the melody,” Bodensteiner said. “The melody is sung by the number two guy, coming down the scale.”

The Society now has chapters in 10 other countries, he said. It also has one of the largest sheet music libraries in the country – which is how the local group finds many of its arrangements.

“You’ve got to have an arrangement. It’s hard to sing modern songs,” he said. “You kind of lean back to the stuff international sends out.”

In fact, mixing modern songs with barbershop style is one of the hallmarks of ‘Round Midnight. They’re a group of four music educators who apply close four-part harmony to different genres such as rock, pop and jazz. They were also International Semi-Finalists at the Harmony Society’s 2012 contest.

Progression was the 2010 Central States District quartet champions.