Allan Pinkston hopes to find at least 75 men in the Oklahoma City area who share his love for barbershop harmony — a love that has kept the OK Chorale barbershop chorus going for three-quarters of a century.
OK Chorale will celebrate its 75th anniversary with two concerts April 27 at Harding Fine Arts Academy. The group will be joined by a newer barbershop chorus, Music Central, founded in 1995.
The anniversary shows start at 2 and 7 p.m. Both will include full-chorus renditions and performances by smaller groups.
Pinkston, OK Chorale's president, said he set a goal to recruit 75 singers as a salute to the anniversary and to strengthen the singing group. Pinkston celebrated his own 75th birthday in March.
“This is more than just a singing group,” Pinkston said. “It's the friendships you develop.”
Visitors are welcome to attend rehearsals, he said. OK Chorale rehearses at 6:30 p.m. Mondays at Overholser Elementary School, 7900 NW 36.
Music Central also invites visitors to its rehearsals at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at North MacArthur Church of Christ, 9300 N MacArthur Blvd., said Barry Clark, Music Central's vice president for marketing.
Pinkston said some OK Chorale members have sung all their lives, while others are getting reacquainted with vocal music after singing in high school or college.
“There is a typical barbershop harmony that's unique to these guys and that sets it apart,” OK Chorale director David Roman said.
Caleb Henderson, who sings lead with OK Chorale, said it's difficult to pinpoint what makes the barbershop sound unique.
“When you hear it, you know it's barbershop,” said Henderson, 30. “When you lock a chord, the overtones are amazing.”
Roman said a chord is “locked” when the four parts are sung precisely on pitch, with identical vowel sounds. When that happens, overtones — extra notes — are created even though they're not actually being sung.
Music Central director Mark Winn said barbershop harmony produces an unmistakable sound.
Both local groups are members of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
The original organization was formed in Tulsa in 1938 following an impromptu songfest on the rooftop of a downtown hotel, reviving an American art form that began in the 1800s.
OK Chorale became the third chapter to join.
Pinkson said OK Chorale, originally known as the Singing Sooners, once had a membership of about 100. Membership now stands at about 60, with ages ranging from 11 to 93.
Gov. Mary Fallin proclaimed the week of April 7-14 as Barbershop Harmony Week in Oklahoma.
The April 27 concert will include western, patriotic and gospel music, a medley of songs from “The Music Man,” and old standards such as “My Wild Irish Rose” and “By the Old Mill Stream.”
Ricky Bugher, 60, has been singing barbershop music for 28 years. He recently brought his grandson, Levi Saylor, 11, into the chorus.
When done right, Bugher said, barbershop harmony is like no other kind of singing.
“People don't know what it is they like about it — but they like it.”