Jeff Clemetson | Editor
San Diego Chorus Master Director Kathleen Hansen wants people to know that barbershop harmony has come a long way since its days of wide-brim hats and striped suits. And that progression will be on full display at Youth Harmony San Diego’s sixth Youth Harmony Day at Lewis Middle School on Saturday, Nov. 10.
“I describe it as: ‘This is not your grandfather’s barbershop,’” she said. “These are young and accomplished quartets.”
Youth Harmony Day is an all-day workshop for middle school and high school chorus and barbershop singers from around San Diego County, culminating in a showcase performance featuring the young singers as well as headliner acts.
Performing this year along with the student choirs are quartets Fortunate Sons, SoloVoce and The Newfangled Four — a top 10 ranked Barbershop Harmony Society quartet.
Around 100 students are expected to attend the workshop and perform at the showcase. The students will work all day alongside the featured performers as well as the clinicians Hansen and Pacific Coast Harmony director Royce Ferguson.
This year will be Patrick Henry High School junior John Yokoyama’s fourth Youth Harmony Day workshop. He has been singing barbershop since junior high and attends the workshop for the learning experience and the camaraderie.
“If you’re going there for the music, definitely Royce, the director, helps you so much to develop everything about your voice,” he said, describing what young singers get from attending the workshop. “You can also go for friends. Everyone involved with music, they’re just good people.”
This will be Patrick Henry junior Andrew Minjares’ second workshop. He attended last year’s Youth Harmony Day on the advice of Yokoyama.
“He thought it would be a good experience for me, turns out he was right,” Minjares said.
Minjares and Yokoyama both sing with a group called Pacific Suns and are looking forward to performing this year’s showcase alongside The Newfangled Four, who Yokoyama said has “millions of views on YouTube.”
Genesis Wong will be attending her fourth workshop this year. She said she has been involved in chorus for a long time and even traveled to Iceland to perform. She looks forward to Youth Harmony Day to see old friends and meet new ones.
“What I really love about it is being able to come together with all the people who are there for the exact same thing you are there for — to get yourself involved with music and perform on stage,” she said. “It ends up being like a family.”
Although Youth Harmony Day has a lot of returning students every year, the event also attracts first-timers.
“It is really exciting to see the students get engaged and excited about singing in harmony together and discover barbershop harmony,” Hansen said.
Part of the reason young people are discovering singing is because of TV shows like “The Voice” and “The Sing Off.”
“The downside of those competition shows, however, are that they get a bit judgy,” Hansen added. “I really like when they have positive experiences. I think ‘The Voice’ does an excellent job of that, really encouraging people to use their voice and improve and share their music with others because I believe that everyone can sing. It’s just a matter of practice. Like any other skill. Anyone can learn to do it.”
The Youth Harmony Day Showcase is Saturday Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at Harvey Lewis Middle School, 5170 Greenbriar Ave. The Showcase is open to the public and tickets are $10 for adults, and free for all students. For more information or to purchase advance tickets, visit youthharmonysd.com.
—Reach Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.