Barbershop ladies are hitting the high notes

Reporter:

Helen Davies

BARBERSHOP singing may not be mainstream chart music.

But that doesn’t bother the 50 women who make up the Mountain Harmony Ladies’ Barbershop Chorus.

The group are set to represent North Wales in a national singing competition at the end of the month – and are even sought after by TV fashion guru Gok Wan and Britain’s Got Talent.

With members ranging in age from 18 to 70, the chorus is made up of women from all over North Wales and Cheshire.

It was set up 21 years ago and has a repertoire including the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra and Westlife.

Rita Gunnigle, who has been a member of the choir for the last 11 years, said the group’s success is largely due to their musical director, Derek Hollis.

She said: “Derek’s made us what we are now. We’ve doubled in size and gone from strength to strength since he joined us.”

Derek, from Connah’s Quay, splits the choir into the four parts needed for a barbershop harmony: tenors, bases, melody and barriers.

“The barriers link all the sounds together and sing the fiddly bits,” explained Rita.

“It’s a different sort of singing from a traditional choir. I love the pure enjoyment of it and how you feel when you sing - it’s such a lovely well-being feeling.”

The chorus, which sings without a piano, is made up of women from all walks of life and includes students, teachers, nurses, farmers and pensioners.

Rita said: “We’re all good friends.

“We’re all looking forward to the competition in Llandudno. Each group has to sing
two songs, one upbeat and one ballad.”

The event, organised by the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers, will take place on Saturday October 30 at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.

The members of Mountain Harmony are no strangers to competing, having won the Chester Music Festival twice and the Southport Music Festival three times.

And they could have appeared on TV too.

Rita said: “We were going to audition for Britain’s Got Talent but our director had his leg in plaster so we couldn’t.

“The programme got in touch with us. Apparently Simon Cowell asked where all the women were in Wales because there were a lot of Welsh male voice singers auditioning.

“They sent the researchers out and because we’re the only ladies barbershop quartet in North Wales they really were interested in us.”

The women have also had an email from Gok Wan asking if any of them would like a makeover – but are yet to decide on their answer.

- Rehearsals take place every Thursday in Gwernymynydd Village Hall. For information go to www.mountainharmonychorus. com, call Rita on 01513 427968 or just go along to a rehearsal and listen.

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