About City of Sails Barbershop Chorus

The City of Sails Barbershop Chorus is an all-male a cappella vocal ensemble who sing in the barbershop style.

That’s the formal description, in reality our chorus is a whole lot more than that.  We are a bunch of 40 or so guys from a range of ethnicities, faiths, ages and occupations – and none of that matters.  We just love to sing, and to sing in a style that our audiences love to listen to.  Here are a few facts about us and what we do:

How does a "chorus" differ from a “choir”? 

We never perform with music – sheet music that is.  While we might learn songs with the aid of the sheet music, we never perform with it.  The lyrics, notes, breathing and expression are all committed to memory.  In musical terms barbershop chorus music is voiced differently to most choral music.  The music we sing generally has the melody (the "tune") sung by the second-to-highest voice part.

Can I just come along and listen? 

Most definitely.  Come and listen, watch, sing, talk to us, as much or as little as you like.  If you are interested in having a go we might voice test you (in private) to see what voice part suits you, but there is no expectation, obligation or pressure to sing if you don’t want, and you are welcome just to come and be amazed at what we do.  If you are game to have a go, a chorus member from whichever voice part you are suited to will "buddy" you for the duration of the rehearsal.

Of course, your family/whanau/friends are more than welcome also.

Do I need to audition? 


Yes (but not right away).  Membership is a two-step process. The entry audition enables you to join the chorus and gives you access to all learning material and other member benefits.  In order to perform with the chorus you must then pass a performance audition, which is a more thorough test of your knowledge of the repertoire and the basics of our craft. When you first arrive, a “buddy” is assigned to you and he will help steer you through the path to full membership.

Is there an age limit? 


No.  Our current membership ranges in age from 15 years to 86 years.

What about us women?


Women barbershop is also alive and flourishing - see http://www.sweetadelines.co.nz/ for information about your local chorus - but also (as of 2017) the men's competition has had a category for mixed quartets.

But, I don’t read music.  Won’t I struggle?

You don’t need to read music!  Most of us don’t, some of us do.  If you want to learn to read, that’s great – we can teach you, and it will help your learning of the music in general.

I don’t know how I would go about learning a song. 

We have a great music team, who are responsible for choosing, preparing and teaching new songs.  We have first class learning aids in the form of professional training recordings.

We don’t just teach the songs, we teach you how to learn the music efficiently and effectively.

Are there competitions?

You bet.  We compete in national competitions every year.  These are held all over the country.  In 2015 it was Hamilton, in 2016 Blenheim, for example.

Every 4 years or so our national competitions are combined with a "Pan-Pacific" competition held in either New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, or Japan.  The last one was in 2017 and was held in Sydney.

What’s the point?  Do you ever sing in public?

We sure do.  Apart from the national competitions, we generally have at least two public shows per year.  We also perform carols every year in various shopping malls (these are an excellent fundraiser for the chorus), and provide carols singing for the patients at Auckland Hospital.  Finally, there are usually one or two singouts for Auckland City at a public event, or a lunchtime concert in the Public Library for example.

Isn’t barbershop a fairly restricted style?

It can be, but actually, we don’t sing a lot of “true” barbershop apart from our competition pieces. A lot of our material – in fact, probably most of it – would not be considered barbershop and would not be suitable for competition.

Can I afford it?

Most likely.  Your subscription for the year will currently be less than $300.  That covers purchase of all your music and training recordings, music copying and performance fees, running this fine website, hire of our rehearsal venue, a cup of tea and selection of biscuits when we finish, and membership of our umbrella organisation (Barbershop Harmony New Zealand).  Additional costs might be such items as travel to and accommodation at competition, your performance outfit, etc.

What is the legal status of the Chorus?

The Auckland City Of Sails Barbershop Chorus Inc. is a NZ registered society (No. 707838) and is a registered charity (No. CC52365).  We hold an AGM in November or December each year, and elect a president, secretary, treasurer and musical director.   There are approximately a dozen other office holders.

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