The Spirit of Phoenix, a men's barbershop chorus, encourages and welcomes visitors to our weekly Tuesday evening meetings, both singers and non-singers alike. There is an abundance of good music and fellowship for you to enjoy, whether you sit back and listen or sing with the chorus.
What Must I Do To Join?
First, you must attend at least three chorus rehearsals. On or after your third rehearsal, you should request a membership application from the Membership V.P.
Is There an Audition?
Yes, and it is broken down into four phases: vocal, visual, a quintet performance, and an Executive Committee interview. The purpose is to determine if you have the basic skills, which, given dedication and hard work, will enable you to become an active member of the chapter. In the vocal phase, you will be asked to sing a scale, a simple song, some musical intervals and exercises, and a harmony part to a well known melody. Reading music is not required.
In the visual phase of the audition, you will be asked to express the mood of the song with facial expression. You will also be asked to do some physical routines to determine if you have the basic coordination skills to enable you to learn the movements performed by the chorus.
In the quintet performance, you will be asked to sing a couple of chorus songs along with a quartet to determine note and word accuracy, and the ability to blend in as part of a singing unit.
Because of nervousness or singing inactivity, some of our most productive chorus members did not pass the audition on their first try. So if you don’t qualify the first time, the audition coordinator will explain any areas that need improvement, and will provide you with the exercises to do to prepare for a second audition.
Are there dues?
Yes, there are annual dues associated with membership in the Society and our chapter. Dues facilitate some of the excellent educational programs and materials that our Society offers, and are very reasonable when compared to dues for many other organizations. The Society also offers an installment plan for members who prefer to spread their dues over monthly payments rather than an annual lump sum. More details on this will be given to you by our Membership V. P.
When you become a member, our Society headquarters will send you various orientation materials. A membership card, official certificate and lapel pin will be mailed to our chapter secretary, and will be presented to you at the next regularly scheduled chapter meeting. As a member you will also receive subscriptions to The Harmonizer, the official Society magazine, the Westunes, published by the Far Western District, and all newsletters and bulletins published by our chapter.
What about quartets?
There are over 2,000 "registered" barbershop quartets in our Society, and about an equal number of quartets who do not go through the registration process. Quartet competitions are held throughout the year, usually in conjunction with chorus competitions; these events are held to determine division, district and international quartet champions. A quartet must register before being allowed to compete in Society sponsored contests; registration also secures a unique name for each quartet as well as "retiring" the names of all International Champion quartets in perpetuity.
The Greater Phoenix Chapter is home to a number of quartets (See the Quartets menu). They perform regularly, and most quartet members are also actively participating in the chorus. Serious quartet singing requires a similar dedication to that of a chorus member, and the rewards are many; we encourage quartet singing for all of our members.
Our Society publishes a large variety of interesting barbershop arrangements, some of which have become barbershop classics. Our librarian will be able to assist you in obtaining these arrangements, and our quartet manager will be happy to help you in the process of forming a quartet.
What is the "International" Society and competition?
The Barbershop Harmony Society is a non-profit, educational and fraternal organization with over 35,000 members in the United States and Canada. In addition, there are affiliated organizations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Each member belongs to one or more chapters, of which there are more than 800. Each chapter has a chorus and/or quartets that give public performances and compete with other choruses and quartets in the area at Society sponsored contests. The Society is divided into sixteen geographical districts; our chapter resides in the Far Western District, or the "FWD" as it is commonly known. Each district is subdivided into divisions, and ours is the Arizona, Southern Nevada, Southern Utah Division, or "Division 5" for short.
Choruses and quartets complete each year in a division contest, and those earning sufficient points go on to compete at the district level. The winner of the district chorus contest earns the right to represent its district at the international contest -- the "Superbowl" of barbershop, if you will -- competing with the representatives from each of the other districts as well as from the international affiliate organizations, plus several "wild card" choruses representing the top scoring second place choruses from across all districts. For quartets, those achieving a score above the cutoff level set each year at the preliminary contest qualify to compete in the international quartet contests with foursomes from around the world. Both the international chorus and quartet contests occur during the Society's International Convention, held in a different city each year.
Some Facts About Us
Our chapter founded on February 14, 1943 and chartered as the "Phoenix Saguaro Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA), Inc." Over the course of sixty-plus years the chapter had produced a chorus that had won the Far Western District championship fourteen times, earned medals in international competition eleven times, and won the coveted gold medal as International Champion three times. In addition, they had produced one International Champion quartet, the Western Continentals, several quartets achieving medal rakings in international competition, and numerous district champion quartets.
In 2002 a new chapter, the Greater Phoenix Chapter, also formed in the Phoenix area. Like the Phoenix Saguaro Chapter, they had an outstanding chorus, the Pride of Phoenix, as well as a number of international caliber quartets.
In the spring of 2004 a number of men spearheaded the idea of merging the two organizations. The officers of both chapters met to discuss the feasibility of a merger, and an executive committee was formed, having members from both chapters, to work out the details. Among the recommendations were to retain the name Greater Phoenix Chapter, as it better reflected the breadth of its geographical region (as well as relieving future announcers from trying to figure out how to pronounce "Saguaro"), and keep the original charter of the Phoenix Saguaro Chapter, thus preserving it's long history.
A special meeting was held for both chapters on July 6, 2004 where the entire membership of both chapters voted on the merger agreement. The merger passed by overwhelming majority in both chapters, and the Greater Phoenix Chapter was born.
About the same time as our merger, the Society started the processes of changing its name from the long-winded "Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America" to the Barbarshop Harmony Society. Hence we are now "officially" known as the Greater Phoenix Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
Over the years our chorus has taken a number of names, including the Phoenix Chorus, the Copper Statesmen, the Salt River Beachcombers, and the Desert Romeos. In 1966, the chorus came under the direction of Lou Laurel, and became known as the Phoenicians, a name which became a legacy in the Society.
When the two chapters merged our combined chorus used the interim name of Greater Phoenix Chorus, but wanted to come up with a better name in time for the district fall contests. A naming committee was appointed, and solicited a long list of candidate names from our members. Votes were cast by our members, and the name Spirit of Phoenix was chosen as our new name.
Our Great Musical Leadership
The Spirit of Phoenix Chorus is based on a solid core of musical leadership, headed by Musical Director Gary Steinkamp and Associate Director Cary Burns. Both Gary Steinkamp and Cary Burns are judges within the barbershop society.
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