Sussex Harmonisers (22nd August 2020)
SUSSEX HARMONISERS – KINGS OF HARMONY & SUSSEX A CAPPELLA
The Sussex Harmonisers, based in Burgess Hill, is a one-stop entertainment centre for unaccompanied harmony. The original chorus was all-male and based their repertoire on Barbershop harmony, but quickly expanded into other A Cappella styles.
In 2018 The Sussex Harmonisers became the first Barbershop club in the country (possibly the world!) with both a female chorus and a male chorus: the male group was renamed Sussex Kings of Harmony (SKH) and the new female chorus became Sussex A Cappella (SAC).
Both choruses have continued to meet on their normal weekly rehearsal evenings since the lock-down started in March this year, but using Zoom rather than meeting in person. They sing along to shared music tracks to practise their repertoire, learn new songs and maintain good social contact. Each chorus has four vocal sections and many of these hold additional evening part-specific sessions.
These days both choruses sing traditional and modern music in Barbershop and A Cappella styles of harmony with repertoire covering nearly a hundred years of good music. Yes, there are a few of the ‘old songs’ as public favourites, many being from the 30’s through to the 50’s (such as ‘At Last’ and ‘Over the Rainbow’) and more recently we have performed songs by the Beatles, Beach Boys and Queen. Currently our repertoire includes songs performed by Adele, Elbow, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, ABBA, Dolly Parton and Van Morrison. Across the two choruses we aim to introduce a dozen new songs each year and we are always looking for new material.
Recently the ‘Kings’ set themselves a challenge to make their own Virtual Chorus using a favourite Beach Boys song In My Room. It was quite a setup, each singer playing their respective track through an earpiece while recording themselves on mobile phone and sending to our in-house editors via WhatsApp. It was then put on YouTube and publicised via social media. The efforts met with a tremendous response including re-shares and likes from world-renowned entertainment companies all the way from China to Detroit USA.
Encouraged by their efforts, the ‘Kings’ set themselves a bigger challenge to improve on that first attempt and raise funds for St Peter and St James Hospice (donations are very welcome at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sussex-harmonisers). This time they made separate audio recordings followed by individual and group video recordings to produce a finished performance of Amarillo (Peter Kay, eat your heart out) and the resulting video eclipsed the audience figures for In My Room within three days.
More videos and recordings are planned from both choruses in the near future so keep an eye on https://tinyurl.com/sussexharmonisers
You can always find out more about our recordings and the club through our website where you will find links to their Facebook pages and a ‘Friends’ mailing list. http://www.sussexharmonisers.org.uk/
Both choruses are always on the lookout for new members and an invitation is extended to join them during one of their ‘open’ sessions. The ‘Kings’ have an Open Zoom rehearsal on Tuesday 22 September associated with the British Association of Barbershop Singers’ SingSeptember initiative. Thereafter, Open rehearsals will be held on the first Monday (SAC) or Tuesday (Kings) of each month – via Zoom at first, then in-person when normal rehearsals resume.