The New Guy
It's happened to us all.
Russell had only been in the chorus seven months when the new guy sat beside him. Bernie was his name. Said he had some experience singing before but this type of Barbershop style singing, well, it’s been a while.
The music librarian gave Bernie a notebook full of the music they’d be singing that night, so Bernie leafed through it while chorus leadership prepared for rehearsal. Several other chorus members greeted Bernie and welcomed him to the chorus of 30 active members.
Bernie said he probably sang the baritone part, which was good since Russell also sang baritone. Russell pointed out that in Barbershop, the baritone sung the higher notes on the lower staff. Bernie said he thought that was the case.
When the singing actually started, Bernie followed the music well and was not afraid to sing out, despite him not knowing the repertoire. Song after song, page after page, he followed along till the end, not getting flummoxed by all the different patterns and changes in the music, but keeping up to the end.
“You’re a great sight reader, Bernie. I wish I had your skills,” Russell said.
“Thanks. I’ve had some practice, having sung in choirs and whatnot before. Very comfortable around music.”
When the director asked for breakout quartets, Bernie volunteered on a couple of songs. Standing in front of the chorus with his music in hand, Bernie and three others sang the song as if they’d been doing it for years, even though this quartet had never sung together before. The challenge and mystique of the breakout quartet was to sing a song with people they had never sung together with, and perform it in front of an audience of their peers – the rest of the chorus.
Even though Bernie had only seen the music ten minutes before, he kept up with the quartet. Singing in front of people didn’t bother him, even with the sheet music in front of him.
Just before the quartet parted ways to sit down, Ken the chorus director stopped Bernie and put his arm around him.
“It took me a while, but I finally figured it out. During break I did a little online searching and found what I was looking for. Most – probably all of you didn’t know it, but this man right here is Bernie Tobias. Does that ring any bells with any of you?”
Nobody recognized the name.
“Naa, before your time. Bernie is – er, was – the Baritone in the 1980 quartet called ‘Two for Tuesday’ that won first place on the international stage.”
Bernie returned to his seat beside Russell, and Russell shook his hand.
“You had me, Bernie. You really had me,” Russell said.
Bernie smiled and said, “Sang in choirs and whatnot. Neglected to mention what the whatnot was about. Good to know you, Russell.”
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