Our Past and Present
The Harmony Express Chorus, a local chapter of the nationwide Barbershop Harmony Society, has both a long tradition and a short history. Its roots extend back over 50 years, to the 1960 formation of the first chapter in Montgomery County, Hometowne USA.
The chorus got its start when some members of that first chapter decided to create a group with more ambitious singing and performing goals. At first, the men met and sang in some pretty odd places, like the lobby of an office building. They soon realized, though, that they should incorporate as a new Society Chapter for stability’s sake. Hometowne graciously served as sponsor, and Harmony Express held its first formal rehearsal early in 2009.
The new chorus was immediately successful. Harmony Express entered its first Society competition within a few months and performed respectably. The following year, we were champs at our level in Division competition and moved up. In 2011, we took second place at a higher level and received an award for Most Improved Chorus. The foundation was set.
Harmony Express currently has over 30 active members, ranging in age from 13 to somewhere north of 70, and is actively recruiting more men who love to sing. Besides competing in Society contests, we give 15-20 performances a year throughout Montgomery County, some paid, some charitable. On September 21, 2013, we offered our first major show, headlined by Frank the Dog, the whimsically-named Quartet Champion of the Mid-Atlantic District. On September 13, 2014, we offered our second annual show at Leisure World, featuring Mayhem, the 2014 District Quartet champion.
The motto of Harmony Express is “Fun through Excellence.” Excellence comes in many forms. We work hard to excel at our craft. We strive to excel in competition. We strive to excel in performance. Finally, we strive to excel as valued members of the local community. In August 2013, August 2014, and August 2015, Harmony Express quartets strolled the grounds at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. The chorus has appeared several times on Montgomery County cable Channel 21.
The men of Harmony Express sing for the joy of it, and for the joy of performing. We also sing to help preserve a traditional American art form. The particular style of a cappella singing called barbershop was born in the mid- to late-19th century, about the same time jazz and the blues were emerging from African American roots. Barbershop is a great sound, and we want to keep those harmonies ringing far into the future.
The motto of the Barbershop Harmony Society is “Keep the whole world singing.” We are doing our part!