Happy birthday, Curbstone Chorus!

As much a part of American culture as Old Glory, Mom and apple pie, barbershop harmony is a uniquely original American musical art form that thrives today partly through the efforts of Rutland's Curbstone Chorus, the local chapter of the international singing organization called the "Barbershop Harmony Society," which celebrated its 71st anniversary on April 11.

Established in 2005 by its director, Dan Graves, the Curbstone Chorus has became a treasured gem in Vermont's musical arena, delighting audiences with its diverse and entertaining repertoire of songs.

In its young life, the Curbstone Chorus has performed at numerous street fairs and music festivals in Vermont and in New York, at civic affairs, mixers, business events, nursing homes, and private gatherings, on the radio and, in 2007, won "Best Singing Group" and "Best Overall Performance" in the United Way's annual "Really Big Show" at Rutland's famed Paramount Theater. On March 21, the Chorus journeyed to Burlington to sing in a contest among other Vermont, upper New York and some nearby Canadian barbershop choruses and quartets.

Made up of men from Rutland and from towns as far away as Chester and Poultney, the 34 members are not professional singers-just men who enjoy singing as a hobby. They are of diverse professions and of all ages: lawyers, plumbers, doctors, carpenters, students, salesmen, teachers, etc., united by the common passion for singing a cappella 4-part harmony in the barbershop style and for sharing their music with others. The Curbstone Chorus is the only barbershop chorus in southern Vermont.

The Barbershop Harmony Society was founded on April 11, 1938 and has grown to become the world's largest all-male singing organization, with 30,000 singers in more than 1500 quartets and 800 choruses in the United States and Canada. Another 4,000 barbershoppers are members of affiliated organizations around the globe. The Barbershop Harmony Society's mission is to bring men together in harmony and fellowship and to enrich lives through singing.

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