Our Past and Present
Harmony Express, 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, we met and sang in some pretty odd places, like the lobby of an office building. We soon realized we 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 has had members ranging in age from 13 to somewhere north of 70. We currently have over 15 active members. We are always recruiting more men and women who love to sing. Besides competing in Society contests, we give about a dozen performances a year throughout Montgomery County, some paid, some charitable. On September 21, 2013, we offered our first major show. Our most recent show was November 16, 2019 at the F Scott Fitzgerald Theater in Rockville MD.
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 every year from 2013 on, Harmony Express quartets strolled the grounds at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. The chorus has appeared several times on Montgomery County cable Channel 21.
Harmony Express sings 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!