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Publication Date: Friday, August 09, 2002

Perfect harmony Perfect harmony (August 09, 2002)

Bev Barron hits the right note with the Bay Area Showcase Chorus

by Mavis Noble

We all want harmony in our lives. Bev Barron has it in more ways than one - she sings baritone in a barbershop chorus. But Bev's got harmony with zip. She and 135 other women sing while dressed in sequined outfits and perform highly choreographed, jazzy songs.

This retired software development manager sings with the Santa Clara-based Bay Area Showcase Chorus. BASC is a chapter of Sweet Adelines International, a nonprofit educational music organization that promotes the preservation of American barbershop harmony.

Apparently this 23-year Pleasanton resident and her fellow BASC singers are in great harmony. The chorus placed high at the international competition among 600 choruses worldwide.

"We achieved our goal to be fifth in the world," Barron said of their win. "When we made the finals in Portland in October last year, we wore prison garb and the director wore a prison guard outfit. We sang songs like 'The Joint is Jumpin'' and 'Jailhouse Rock.'"

Barron's bragging rights and showmanship don't end there. At the Northern California Sweet Adeline's chorus competition in April in Sacramento, the chorus received "A" scores in sound, music, showmanship and expression. BASC became the regional champion.

But the music. What about the music?

"The whole point of barbershop is to make more sounds than people are actually singing - you create over tones," explained Barron. "You can only do this if you're using a true scale, not a tempered scale. We sing notes, which would fall into the cracks of a piano, to make the chords sing. When four are singing, and they're tuned properly, they create a fifth note that no one's singing."

And the barbershop sound is full of precision and purity. "Barbershop requires more accuracy because there are no instruments to cover up mistakes," Barron noted.

To really understand, you have to see - and hear - it in action. Barron, and BASC, will perform "Totally A Cappella" at 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 10, in Mountain View. Also featured are the Aquanettes, a comedy quartet, and the San Jose Garden City Chorus, a men's barbershop. For more information, contact, www.mvcpa or telephone (650) 903-6000.

All this winning is costly. The time alone is pricey. Barron added up the time spent on BASC activities: hour-long drives to and from rehearsal, the three-hour rehearsal, board business, e-mail, personal practice and competitions. "It is more than I want to admit to my husband. It looks like an average of 30 hours a week. I guess it's like a job," she said.

A job it is. As an appointee of the BASC management team, Barron is the chorus' marketing coordinator. She has also served as team coordinator and corresponding secretary in her 16 years with the chorus. Despite a recent emergency appendectomy, Barron is working on an outreach program for young women. "A cappella singing is such a healthy outlet. It's amazing for a young girl's confidence," she said. She's also written a grant and is producing a public service announcement for the cable channel in San Mateo County.

The price in dollars and cents can be high, too.

"We keep two fancy outfits active and one casual one - a reversal vest. The chorus pays half the cost for a costume so it owns half of it. It's about $150 for each costume, and we pay $264 a year in dues," said Barron. "And it costs a lot to attend regional and international competitions - we stay three nights."

Expenses don't end there.

"Shoes are $30 to $70, and we have a black and silver pair," Barron said. Add to that the cost of identical lipsticks, eye makeup and jewelry. "There are ladies who get together to make all the earrings," she noted, and this helps keep expenses down.

BASC also pays the director and the rehearsal hall rental.

"It's difficult to find a rehearsal hall that can house us," said Barron. "We need a 12-foot ceiling to accommodate the risers and good acoustics, plenty of parking and a safe location. We have a trailer to store and transport the risers and have to pay to have them set up and taken down." However, Barron said, the bulk of the money is spent on education and the music program for the membership.

Barron seems adept at living in harmony with the non-singing side of her life, too. She and husband John enjoy sailing their 38-foot Catalina on the San Francisco Bay.

Do they harmonize together? "John has a nice voice but I can't get him to sing," said Bev. "But he goes to all our shows and appreciates the work we do."

To learn more To learn more (August 09, 2002) Bay Area Showcase Chapter

SES Hall 1375 Lafayette Santa Clara Rehearsal time: 7:30 p.m. Thursday Web site: E-mail: Chapter contact: Judie Wykoff, (650) 341-9164 Harmony Crossroads Chapter

Pleasanton Community Church 4455 Stoneridge Drive Rehearsal time: 7:30 p.m. Monday Web site: E-mail: Chapter contact: Carrie Shaeffer, (925) 846-1857 Diablo Vista Chapter

Christian Reformed Church 860 Bancroft Road Walnut Creek Rehearsal time: 7:15 p.m. Tuesday E-mail: Chapter contact: Martha Matheson, (925) 798-5521 Harmony Bay Chapter

Veterans Memorial Hall 2203 Central Ave. Alameda Rehearsal time: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday Web site: E-mail: Chapter Contact: Beryl Beckwith, (510) 521-6542

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