April 11, 1986|
Banks of the Wabash music Makers
The Banks of the Wabash Chorus that takes the stage
at Rose-Hulman on Tuesday isn't the same one which performed in the area five
years ago. There are still many of the same members in the 70-voice group, but
they have a new attitude - a winner's attitude.
"About five years ago we really
started to work hard." said Dick Pierard, editor of the chapter's newsletter,
"Ripples". "We started to really work for quality. We were rehearsing twice a
week. Now we're really thinking big."
In the grand scheme of barbershop
choral work, "big" is the international competition for barbershop choruses
conducted annually in Salt Lake City. Until now, this competition has eluded the
Terre Haute group. But on Oct. 5, 1985, the group won the district competition
in Indianapolis, making it eligible to compete in Salt Lake City in July.
"We're really in the big leagues
for the first time in our lives," Pierard said.
In addition to that victory, Sound Decision, a quartet drawn
from the main chorus, recently won the right to perform in the same
international competition. Comprised of Bob Montgomery, John Rector, David
Keith, and Terry Wence, Sound Decision advanced to the Salt Lake City event by
winning a regional competition April 6 in Mitchell, Kentucky.
Those BOWC accomplishments come
on the heels of the group's trip to Warmick, England last year to be the future
attraction at the annual convention of the British Association of Barber
The Banks of the Wabash Chorus
holds the membership in the Cardinal District (Indiana and Kentucky) of the
larger Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet
Singing in America (SPEBSQSA). Organized in 1938 in Tulsa, Okla., the Society
has a approximately 37,000 members nationwide, and about 500 chapters. Terre
Haute's group currently has 99 members. Generally only about 70 singers perform
during Chorus concerts due to scheduling considerations.
The BOWC originated in Terre
Haute during the 1940s. First known as the Elk's Chanters, the male-only singers
performed with piano accompaniment. Carl C. Jones served as director until his
death in 1953.
"It was during the years with
Carl C. Jones (in the late 1940s) that the group became aware of barbershop harmony,"
said Donn Jones (no relation to Carl). "They had been singing mostly glee club
arrangements and that type of music, but they became interested in barbershop,
and through Jones' influence they were almost completely into that style."
In the following years after
Carl C. Jones' death, from 1953-1965,
Donn Jones explained, there was no action in the
chapter. When it resumed in 1965, it took on the new name of Banks of the Wabash
The Current Director
who has lived in Terre Haute for 10 years and directed the chorus for seven
Strictly a voluntary, a
vocational organization, the chorus meet regularly once a week to rehearse.
Members pay annual dues, and aren't required to audition.
"People who can't really sing
usually don't want to belong," Pierard said. "When somebody new comes in, he is
usually recommended or sponsored by another member. We put him in the section
where we think he will fit. If he can't do the job, he usually drops out."
Pierard continued, a
person who can't necessarily sing that well will be determined enough to work
and practice hard and learn how to sing better.
"We're a comfortable, loose
group," Jones said. "We just want to promote and encourage barbershop singing
and quartet singing."
Quartets are formed by any four members who
like to singing together and get along well. Currently the quartets are The
Music Mart, Sound Decision, Shades of Gray, Spare Change and the Four Flushers.
Lucas said that chorus is honored to be playing the Hulman Show.
"We'll be doing a variety of
things, probably a show package to open, interspersed with other slections and