LARGO – When most people think of guys’ night out, it usually involves a weekend, beer, a bar and a television with sports programming.
But for Steve Matheson and fellow members of a local semi-professional chorus called Tampa Bay Heralds of Harmony, guys’ night out is on Thursday and revolves around singing, some choreography and socializing among friends.
“It’s a great night out and we have a lot of fun, there’s nothing better than that,” said Matheson, the marketing director for Heralds of Harmony.
The group has been around since 1945. Its barbershop style is well-known with 850 chapters in 18 countries.
The Tampa Bay chapter has 60 members, but there is room for more.
“We have been as large as 110 (people). We’re looking for new members who take singing seriously and like to have a good time,” said Matheson.
Matheson said the chorus prides itself on a standard of excellence. It has competed internationally for 14 years in a row, placing as high as ninth out of 24 chorus competitors.
There’s a lot to learn to be in the Heralds of Harmony. Professional singing coaches come in weekly and teach the men how to hit each note perfectly. Choreographers have flown in from Texas and California to show the group how to move their hands and body to tune of the music.
A large stage is needed when the men perform their synchronizing choreography and the front row of the chorus is the most animated of the entire group.
Heralds of Harmony is special in that they combine three original styles of music, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, and barbershop.
Songs range from barbershop standards, ’50s music, patriotic tunes, and the chorus’ own twist on jazz. Performers start as young as 9 and go up to 90.
There are several father and son teams, said Matheson, a member for 13 years.
“I love to sing and perform. This has been a great way for me to make friends,” he said.
Heralds of Harmony supports The Spring of Tampa Bay, domestic violence shelter for women and their children. The chorus also is involved with Hospice. Patients are entertained and performances are staged at both organizations’ annual fundraisers.
Heralds of Harmony is funded through state grants and by singing at different functions. Money raised buys uniforms, rents the rehearsal hall, purchases props, and pays for travel. Last year the group went to Salt Lake City for its international competition.
Heralds of Harmony will perform at First Christian Church of Largo, Sunday, Feb. 26, 3 p.m. The church is at 1645 Seminole Blvd. Cost is $10. Call 584-8601.