First State Harmonizers Continue Tradition

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Backswing QuartetBrought together by a love of sharing music, members of the First State Harmonizers meet once a week at Avenue Methodist Church to practice and preform as Milford’s authentic a cappella group. Composed of over 30 singers of all ages and all walks of life, the group sings at community functions, annual shows and even national competitions. The group in Milford formed as a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, a non-profit organization of approximately 30,000 members, combining singing groups between the Dover and Seaford area. The First State Harmonizers carries on the tradition of an all-male singing group as they entertain the Greater Milford Area throughout the year.

Mark Butala, member of the First State Harmonizers, joined the group 5 years ago after he read an article about them in a local newspaper regarding a guest night where newcomers were encouraged to listen to the singers during rehearsal. Having a love for music his entire life and being a decent singer, Mark decided to visit the group in Milford, and five years later became the President of the organization.

“The group is a bunch of guys that share the common goal of performing and enjoy the fellowship that accompanies singing,” commented Butala. “With this group I really feel like I can leave the world behind and enjoy singing.”

In addition to sharing their music with others, another great passion of the Harmonizers is learning more about the art of a cappella singing. Vocal instruction is a regular part of chorus rehearsals, and a very important component of the chorus experience. A couple of times a year, the group will receive coaching from a visiting master in the art of barbershop, where they learn many tricks of the trade.

In the spring of every year, First State Harmonizers Chorus participates in the Region chorus competition against other groups for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Competitions are a special time for quartets and choruses from the region to come together to sing for each other and get some constructive feedback from a panel of judges. This year the First State Harmonizers placed first in their regional division and will be competing in Ocean City, Maryland for a chance to perform in international competition, which will be held in Toronto, Canada this year.

“Competition is a major and fun part of the barbershop world that helps keep us focused on raising the bar of performing excellence,” shared Butala. “We come together in a spirit of lighthearted contest, to see who’s really knows how to perform this wonderful craft. We root for each other, cheer each other on, and once the medals have been handed out, we sing and party into the night.”

The First State Harmonizers are currently looking for new members and invite anyone that enjoys singing to come listen to them during their weekly rehearsals at the Avenue Methodist Church in downtown Milford every Monday night. In addition to singing as a larger chorus, First State Harmonizers is also home to a number of vocal quartets that perform in much smaller groups throughout the community.

“We are just an average group of guys that enjoy singing,” commented Butala. “We are looking for any type of singer that will enjoy the camaraderie and fun.”

The First State Harmonizers welcomes the Pride of M Chorus, a 35-man group made up of some of the best barbershop harmony singers on the Delmarva Peninsula, to the Milford Senior Center auditorium at 2:00 pm on Sunday, September 15th, 2013. The First State Harmonizers, directed by Sharon Ehrisman will start the afternoon’s show performing some of the chorus’s most requested songs and debut a number of new songs they’ve added to their repertoire. After Intermission, during which several door prizes will be awarded, the Pride of DelMarVa, directed by Glenn Phillips, will take the stage. For Show Tickets: Call: (302)-422-8620 or (302)-233-8018 or order online at: www.firststateharmonizers.com.