Sounds of Aloha Quartets Bring Barbershop to Hawaii Public Radio

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As part of its live 2016 Atherton Summer Season performing arts showcase, Hawaii Public Radio hosted four quartets from the Sounds of Aloha Chorus before small but enthusiastic live audiences at the station's Atherton Performing Arts Studio, for two performances on Saturday, September 10, 2016. Funny Bones, 19th Avenue, Resonance, and Wong Fu sang both as individual quartets and as a 16-member ensemble. In addition to hearing some fine music, the audience had an opportunity to learn about the history and musical characteristics of the barbershop tradition and its evolution into a more varied, global, and contemporary a cappella art form.

The Atherton Studio, by the way, is just nirvana for unamplified performers. A cappella groups in particular often contend with less-than-ideal singing conditions, but this little place is truly a community treasure. The acoustics allowed 19th Avenue to perform a heart-stoppingly intimate rendition of Billy Joel's "Lullaby" while seated on stools. Discerning ears perked up when Resonance lived up to its name on the final chord of the Eddy Arnold and Ray Charles hit "You Don't Know Me" by producing a jaw-dropping undertone -- a hallmark of barbershop singing at its best that a cappella guru Deke Sharon calls "the vocal equivalent of some kind of dark arts ninja magic." Funny Bones brought the house down with its hilarious local-style comedic flair, and Wong Fu rounded out a diverse program with some numbers in the jazzy style of close harmony groups like the Hi-Lo's and the Four Freshmen.

The Sounds of Aloha are so very grateful to the dedicated professionals at HPR and to HPR's members -- including program sponsors Bonnie Rice and the Rice Partnership -- for their interest in learning more about what regrettably might just be the "best kept secret in the world of music." SOA hopes to help change that. On that note, a recording of the program will broadcast on HPR-2's aptly-named show, "Applause in a Small Room," on Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 4:00 pm. We hope you'll tune in!