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Director  Chuck Speer, conducts the Barbershop Chorus at one of the group's weekly practices at the Faith Lutheran Church in Pelican Rapids.

Regional barbershop group takes stage April 17

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Dent's Don Garber has been singing since he was a little tyke--and its a hobby he has continued with ever since. 

Garber is one of 30 male voices who will participate in a barbershop music show this Thursday, April 17, in the Perham High School auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

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This is the first year that the regional barbershop chorus will perform in Perham. Special guests will include a number of Perham High School choral students who perform at the concert. 

"I remember my mom standing me up on the piano bench so I could see the music," said Garber, recalling his childhood beginnings as a singer.

Since then, Garber has been a featured singer at more than 150 funerals.  

"I stopped counting after 150," laughed Garber.  The most requested funeral hymns? "How Great Thou Art" and "The Lord's Prayer," he noted.

  The public is invited to attend the April 17 concert and "hear the chords ring," said Garber.  It is a rare opportunity to hear an all male choral group, as there aren't many in the region.

Another singer in the group, Gary Gunstinson, Vergas, stopped singing when he was a kid.  But 15 years ago, the Vietnam-era veteran picked it back up--and he's been making music ever since with the barbershop choral group. 

"I love it. I wish I would have stayed with it since I was ten years old," said Gunstinson. 

The same show will be presented in Fergus Falls on Saturday, April 25. 

Quartets 'Notified' and 'Tribute' will be featured. These groups have sung at various functions in the Perham area.

The Heart O' Lakes Harmony Barbershop Chorus was officially formed on Jan. 1 of this year. The two choruses of Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes decided to join together, since they had been practicing and performing together since 2002. 

There are now approximately 30 men singing together, ranging in age from early teens to 70's.  

The group's director is Chuck Speer from Underwood. Speer is the school band director and has a great knowledge of barbershop singing. 

The requirement the chorus insists on is that the men have fun. They practice every Monday night at 7 p.m. in the Faith Lutheran Church of Pelican Rapids.

For more information call 218-758-2121.

Barbershop singing: A brief history

Barbershop singing was formally organized in the 1930's when some traveling salesmen staying at a hotel in Oklahoma wanted something to do in the evenings. It was then called The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America or SPEBSQSA. 

The originator of the name was heard to say, "If the government can have all those initials such as WPA and CCC, we'll have the longest one." Lately, this name has been shortened to the 'Barbershop Harmony Society.'

A portion of the proceeds from the Barbershop concert will be donated to the Perham High School vocal department. 

Interested singers are always being sought.  For more information, call Don Garber at 218-758-2121; or Gary Gunstinson, 218-234-9996.

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