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       Dundalk Maryland Chapter  S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A., Inc

      The Chorus of the Chesapeake     

                                      




Join Us


Welcome to the Chorus of the Chesapeake

We encourage and welcome visitors to our Tuesday evening rehearsals; both singers and non-singers. You'll find an abundance of good music and fellowship, whether you simply choose to enjoy the rehearsal with the audience, or jump on the risers and sing along with the chorus. While we encourage all WEB visitors to examine this information, it is meant specifically for those men who are singers and who wish to join our organization and our "Commitment to Musical Excellence".

Some facts about the Chorus of the Chesapeake:

The Chorus of the Chesapeake is actually the name of the performing chorus of the Dundalk, MD Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, also known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. (S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A.). The chapter was incorporated in Maryland in 1957 as a non-profit educational, charitable and fraternal organization. Originally founded to provide a musical outlet for men who desired only the finest music education and performance standards, our members have always been dedicated to achieving absolute excellence in choral sound production and showmanship. The Chapter also supports local and national charitable organizations through contributions of funds, time and talent of its individual members.

Over the years, through dedication and hard work, the Chorus of the Chesapeake has won many Divisional Chorus championships, two Mid-Atlantic District championships, and two International Chorus championships. Some of the singers you see on the risers at rehearsals have been with us since 1957. Others have joined in the past few months. Virtually everyone who attends his first Dundalk rehearsal or show is somewhat "awed" by the combination of sound and choreography displayed by such a large group. However, every man you see on the risers had to start from "square one" and absorb the music and performance skills over a period of months. It obviously takes time, commitment and concentrated dedication. But when you constantly strive to remain the best in what you do, the rewards are worth every minute of it!




A few often asked questions (our FAQs):

1. What will I do during my first few Chapter visits?

Guest singers, provided with a guest music book containing our current repertoire of songs, are invited to participate with the chorus during the instructional portion of the rehearsal. Our greeter will help you sign in and introduce you to a "barbershop buddy" for the evening. When the chorus moves to the risers to practice in the "performance mode", you can sit in the audience chairs facing the chorus and follow along in your music book or, if you'd like to join us on the risers, you're certainly welcome! However, there are certain times of the year (typically when the chorus prepares for shows or competition) when guests may be asked to step off the risers and join in setting the mood for our performance to a live audience.

At the end of the rehearsal we ask you to return the guest book to the music librarian or to your "barbershop buddy" and encourage you to join with us in singing an old song or "tag" (song ending) or by trying your hand at quartet singing.

2. I'm interested in joining the Chapter, what Is the procedure?

We would like you to attend at least three meetings, preferably for three weeks in a row, before requesting a membership application. If, after three weeks you like what we do and would like to become a part of it, you can personally contact our membership chairman to begin the process of joining the chapter.

After your membership application is submitted, you will have three readings before you are eligible for membership. A "reading" is simply reading your name during the chapter meeting and having you stand up so that the other members may learn who you are and learn a little about you. After the "readings" are completed, your application will be presented at the next chapter board of directors meeting.

Once you state your desire to join, a time will be scheduled for you to meet with our director or an assistant, so that he may conduct a voice placement evaluation.

3. What should I expect at my voice placement?

The Chorus of the Chesapeake does not "screen out" voices. Voice placement evaluation is not an audition, but just a chance for the music team to help you determine which voice part best suits your vocal range and talents. The analysis is divided into six sections:

Detects whether the singer can hear notes and sing them back to the director.

Determines the accuracy in singing very close intervals.

Determines whether the prospect can sing a natural harmony to a very simple melody without benefit of ever     seeing the musical score.

Determines his vocal range and, subsequently, what voice part he should sing (tenor, lead, baritone, or bass).

Uncovers any voice problems which need may to be addressed.

Determines his degree of intonation, pitch accuracy, breath support, diction, and several other factors.

NOTE: Reading music is not required to join the Chorus of the Chesapeake, but experience in choral singing will certainly help you learn faster and with our help, you'll soon recognize how those mysterious marks on the paper are used to relate to voice pitch.

4. What happens if I don't pass the voice placement the first time I take It?

As we stated above, the Chorus of the Chesapeake takes pride in the fact that we have never screened a voice. There is no "pass" or "fail", but rather a continual process by which our music team will provide help, either in a group setting (usually our sectional rehearsals) or in a one-on-one or small group "coaching session" as necessary, for you to improve as a performer. We are a music education organization and strive for improvement of all our members.

5. What's next (after voice placement)?

Our Board of Directors must approve your membership application at one of the monthly meetings; your application for membership will be presented at the request of your sponsor and the membership chairman after the readings have been completed and your dues payment has been received. The entire process usually take a month or two, during which time you can take your place on the risers next to your "buddy" or in a spot specifically assigned to you by our director or one of his assistants. Placement on the risers is based upon your voice part, your voice quality, your height, and your personality.

6. You mentioned dues, how much does it cost to join?

Dues and fees required to complete your application are listed below. If you are a full-time student, ask about the Society and Chapter Scholarship programs.

The breakdown the regular dues contributions is as follows:

International Dues  $110.00

District Dues  $25.00

Chapter Dues  $35.00

New Member Setup  $10.00

Total First Year Dues  $180.00

Annual Dues Thereafter:  $170.00

Additional expenses include the purchase of uniforms, accessories, make-up and so forth which are required to participate in our public performances. These cost can be spread over time depending on the requirements of the pending performances. A break down of these cost will be explained during an orientation to the chapter usually conducted every 6 weeks.

7. What is this "International" organization mentioned in the introduction?

Our Dundalk Chapter is one of about 800 other chapters in the United States and Canada of the Barbershop Harmony Society, which is also known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. (S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A.) - the Society, with a combined membership of about 35,000 men. Each chapter has a chorus which performs at regular intervals for the general public in their community, and in contests between chapters. There are also affiliate "clubs" in England, Sweden, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, South America, the Soviet Union, and several other countries. For administrative flexibility the Society is divided into Districts which are further divided into Divisions. The District sponsors several conventions each year to hold the various chorus and quartet competitions and conducts educational seminars to develop our musical and administrative skills. Our chapter is a member of the Western Division of the Mid-Atlantic District. Each year the best chorus and quartets from each of the 16 districts is chosen to compete in an International Chorus and Quartet Contest held in conjunction with the Society's annual convention in a large US or Canadian city. The Chorus of the Chesapeake is proud to have won the International Chorus championship twice since its inception and holds the distinction of the largest chorus to win the contest.

8. I thought this was a Barbershop Quartet organization. What about quartets?

There are over 1,000 barbershop quartets registered with our International Office who enjoy competing against other foursomes and singing on public shows. Quartet competition usually takes place at the same time and place as chorus competition. Serious quartet singing requires quite a bit of extra time in addition to chorus rehearsals and shows. There are about the same number of quartets who just get together for fun; both groups are represented in our chapter.

Several quartets have represented the Dundalk Chapter over the years in various Quartet Competitions. In 1970, The Oriole Four brought the coveted International Champion award home to Dundalk. Fred King, our Director Emeritus and the quartet's baritone, has continued to share his musical and entertainment talents with Barbershoppers around the world, spreading the Dundalk name. Other members of our chapter continue to compete for the quartet gold and further the Dundalk tradition of recognized excellence in singing.

Locally, our quartets entertain, at church, civic and educational gatherings or wherever old fashioned harmony is enjoyed. You may see us singing at a PTA meeting, a Church or Civic Diner, or even for the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, promoting barbershop harmony.

9. What about Social activities?

The Chapter enjoys a unique fellowship which we refer to as our "barbershop family". An annual Founders Night Recognition Dinner, a Bull Roast, a Boat Cruise on the Bay, Picnics, Dances and our Community Christmas Party are the keystone of this activity. Our "victory celebration" (even when we don't receive the highest score, we party) at the District conventions has become THE spot for quartet entertainment throughout the convention weekend and our sponsorship of the annual Dan Cuthbert Woodshed Weekend promotes the old fashioned style of harmonizing without benefit of musical arrangements by bringing together singers from Ohio to Massachusetts to South Carolina for an impromptu quartet contest every February.

10. How about the women, can they join too?

The Chapter charter limits membership to "male singers of good character" but our wives and lady friends offer support through an auxiliary organization; the Josephines. They participate in our convention hospitality rooms and many of the social activities mentioned previously. For those ladies who wish to sing barbershop, we encourage you to find a chapter of "Sweet Adelines International" You can find their WEB page at http://www.SweetAdelineIntl.org.

Now, why are you still sitting at the computer?

         Come, join our fellowship and song!

Click here for a map to our meeting location.




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