Send your sweetheart a singing Valentine

If you’re looking to treat your sweetheart to something a little extra special this Valentines Day, the Moncton Barbershop Chorus has something that could be the perfect gift.

At a cost of $40, the local barbershop chorus, known as the “Gentlemen of Harmony” will send one of their quartets to your honey’s residence, serenade them with a pair of songs and also present them with a box of chocolates, a rose courtesy of McCarthur’s Flower Shop and a $10 gift certificate for Vito’s Pizza on Mountain Road.

Now if that doesn’t already sound like a good deal, you should also know that by supporting these Singing Valentines, profits from this fundraiser are donated to the Speech Therapy Unit of The Moncton Hospital via the Friends of The Moncton Hospital.

According to Paul Vautour, the public relations contact for the Moncton chapter of the Barbershoppers, their Singing Valentines have raised more than $10,000 for the Friends of The Moncton Hospital.

“Often, what they end up buying is supplies and equipment that would not qualify for funding,” he says. “I believe they are under strict guidelines as to what they can purchase under Health New Brunswick so the money raised goes to help buy specialized equipment for the Speech Therapy Unit. All we hope is that the unit can get something that helps make the lives of others easier.”

Vautour notes that the chorus has seen a decline in the number of Singing Valentines being purchased over the past few years. He and his chorus members hope that they are able to reverse that trend in 2011.

“Where Valentines Day falls on a Monday this year, it is kind of an off day so our quartets are willing to go out on Saturday and Sunday in the hopes that we can reach more people at home and entice them to buy in,” he says.

If the thought of being a part of one of the Singing Valentines happens to appeal to you, Paul is happy to report that you’re in luck. It just so happens that the Moncton Barbershop Chorus is constantly on the hunt for new members of all ages to join their ranks.

The group meets every Tuesday evening at the First United Baptist Church on Queen Street in Downtown Moncton.

Although there are no membership fees to sing with the local chorus, becoming a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society is necessary if you hope to participate in competitions with the chorus on a regional, national or international basis.

According to its website, The Barbershop Harmony Society was founded in 1938 and is the hub of the Barbershop world for North America. The society is comprised of more than 800 chapters from all corners of the continent and includes more than 30,000 individuals.

“Membership at the Moncton chapter has been holding its own but our numbers are definitely declining,” Vautour admits.

Contrary to what many may assume, prospective Barbershoppers need not be professional singers nor have any musical experience to join the chorus.

All that is required is a desire to sing in harmony with a group of like-minded individuals.

“A lot of people think that we are professional singers but the fact is that 85 per cent of Barbershoppers do not read music. For those who need the guidance or are a little unsure of exactly what parts they should be singing, we have a learning system comprised of discs as well as sheet music with the words to the songs written on them. If you can read and follow along, that is all that is really required!”

For those worried that they would be unwillingly thrust into the spotlight for a solo piece, Paul says that potential members do not need to worry about standing out if they choose not to pursue it.

“We have actually found that many people become comfortable singing in a large group rather quickly and then gravitate towards forming a quartet with some of their fellow members.”

* If you’re tired of singing in the shower and want to show off your potentially astounding vocal capabilities to a wider audience, or if you are looking to book a Barbershop Quartet to serenade your loved one this Valentines Day, contact Paul Vautour at (506) 962-5127.

Article published in February 4, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript