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LIers keep barbershop sound alive

The Long Island Harmonizers, who represent the Nassau

The Long Island Harmonizers, who represent the Nassau Mid-Island Chapter of The Barbershop Harmony Society, practice every Tuesday night at Winthrop Hall, part of Church of the Advent in Westbury. (January 3, 2012) (Credit: Mary Kate Mahoney)

Now that Christmas and New Year’s have passed, it’s time to look forward to Valentine’s Day, the next holiday to provide some warmth during winter’s cold reign.

An old-fashioned serenade from a barbershop quartet is a romantic and unexpected alternative to the cliché chocolate box. And the Long Island Harmonizers are just the men for the job.

Personalized Valentine’s performances are a major component of the fundraising effort for the group, which represents the Nassau Mid-Island Chapter of The Barbershop Harmony Society. The chorus is busy rehearsing their romantic tunes at their rehearsals every Tuesday night at Winthrop Hall, part of Church of the Advent in Westbury.

“The girls love it,” said Jon Ayers, president of the Long Island Harmonizers.

Valentine’s displays are not the only performances given by the more than 40-member organization – although many of the singers admit that it is their favorite type of show to perform. The Harmonizers are just coming off their holiday schedule – performing a medley of Christmas songs at local hospitals.

“We sing at three or four hospitals every year,” said former president and bass John Brolly.

Led by director Maurice Debar, the group is now in preparation for its biggest event of the year, the annual Spring Show, which will be held on April 14 and 15 at Carle Place High School in Carle Place.

This year’s theme is “A Trip in a Time Machine,” and the show will feature songs dating from 1899 to the 1960s.

One highlight of this year’s show is the group’s version of The Beatles’ “Something.” The four-part harmony transforms the song into a haunting melody, with their voices perfectly mimicking the sound of instruments.

More traditional barbershop songs will also be performed, including “The Story of the Rose (Heart of My Heart)” and “My Wild Irish Rose.” These two “barberpole cat” songs – standards in the barbershop community – are recognized by quartets around the globe.

“It’s a whole other world,” said Brolly. “You can begin singing one of the barberpole cat songs in a restaurant in Germany, and another singer in the room would come up and join you.”

For more information, call 516-938-4272 or visit longislandharmonizers.org.

Above: The Long Island Harmonizers practice every Tuesday night in Westbury.

Tags: Westbury , Long Island Harmonizers , barber shop , singing

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