Subtopics: Barbershop Singing; Barbershop Harmony Society; LOE History; LOE Chorus Director
Barbershop singing is rooted in church choral singing, African-American singing, and informal family singing. In its simplest form, the barbershop style can be described as four-part, close harmony a cappella singing in which each note of the melodic progression forms a chord. Ideally, barbershop songs should be easy and fun to sing.
A barbershop chorus or quartet is composed of four voice parts: tenor; lead; baritone and bass. Generally, the lead sings the melody. The tenor, most often, sings a harmony above the lead part. The bass sings a harmony below the lead, and the baritone sings the remaining note of a chord.
Barbershop was originally based on traditional songs, but over the years it has evolved – and it continues to evolve. Today, any music that can be arranged in the four-part barbershop style is being sung, including jazz, blues, rock and roll and pop.
Barbershop Harmony Society
The Barbershop Harmony Society is also known, legally and historically, as “The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc” (SPEBSQSA). SPEBSQSA was founded and named in 1938 by O.C. Cash in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and it is currently composed of just-under 25,000 men dedicated to the barbershop style of harmony singing. For reasons of brevity and simplicity, the working name of SPEBSQSA has been shortened to Barbershop Harmony Society.
In North America, the BHS is partitioned into seventeen geographic “Districts” that are located in Canada and the United States. The Los Alamos Area Chapter is located within the Rocky Mountain District.
“Lads of Enchantment” (LOE) is the name of the Los Alamos Area Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
The Los Alamos area barbershop group came together in 1992 and was granted a charter by SPEBSQSA (before the use of BHS) in 1993.
At the time of the chapter’s founding – and currently – only one New Mexico-based quartet had won the Barbershop Harmony Society’s International Quartet Competition. That group was the 1957 champion, Lads of Enchantment quartet, which was formed in and represented Albuquerque. Attracted by the charm of the quartet’s name, their New Mexico roots, and their singing success, the new Los Alamos chapter requested of and was granted permission by the Lads of Enchantment Quartet to name the Los Alamos Chorus in honor of the quartet.
First Chorus Director. Of the pioneering LOE members, Bill “Stan” Bennett served as the Los Alamos LOE’s Choral Director from 1993 until 2012, and six others are still members of the LOE.
Second Chorus Director. Jonathan Friedman became the LOE’s second Chorus Director in August of 2012. Although Jonathan was new to the area, he had been a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society for 35 years.
Prior to moving to New Mexico, Jonathan had been a music teacher, singer, choral director, a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society for 35 years, and the founder of a Barbershop Harmony chapter in California.
Jonathan’s rich musical experience included singing with some the world’s best barbershop choruses. As an example, he was a bass singer in the Masters of Harmony Chorus (Santa Fe Springs, Ca.), that won the Barbershop Harmony Society International Chorus Competition in 2002, 2005 and 2008.
Jonathan was the musical director for the 2012 show and the 2013 show, shortly after which he relocated to the San Francisco area.
Third Chorus Director. Our third LOE Chorus Director was Jason Rutledge. Jason received his BA degree in Music Education and his Arkansas Teacher Certification from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in the summer of 2010.
Jason was the Director of Choirs in the Flippin Arkansas School from July, 2010 until May, 2012. In July of 2012 he assumed his current position as Director of Choirs in the Los Alamos School District.
Jason took on the additional role of Lads of Enchantment Chorus Director in December of 2013. After about a year, he decided to focus his attention on the High School Chorus, but he continues to act as a musical consultant to the LOE.
Jason is a true tenor with a wonderfully clear voice. As a director, he tends to vary tempo and dynamics to enliven and add interest to choral presentations.
Fourth and Current Chorus Director. Maurice Sheppard is the LOE Chorus Director. He has a Ph.D in Physics and a lifetime interest in singing, having been one of the LOE’s founding members. Maurice served as the Assistant Director from 2009 until he assumed the Directorship in 2015.
When Maurice is not directing, he sings tenor in the LOE chorus and with LOE quartet, Four Praise. In addition, he sings bass in another LOE quartet, Three Nice Guys.
Maurice has attended Director’s College, and he clearly loves directing and singing. The Lads were fortunate to have such a talented guy in our own group.