How the West Was Sung concert set Oct. 27
By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
Lee Hoffman, Roof Garden Barbershop Chorus President, said he and his fellow chorus members are busy practicing for their upcoming concert that will begin at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 inside Somerset Area School District’s junior high auditorium.
“We’re working on the choreography and just bringing it all together,” Hoffman said in regards to the concert, titled “How the West Was Sung.” “As a chorus, we have to pay attention to the little things—like how to pronounce our vowels. We all have to be on the same page.”
The Roof Garden Barbershop Chorus presents an annual show each year. Year-round, the men perform at various events and venues in the community.
“We have numerous gigs throughout the year,” Hoffman said, adding that they are asked to sing somewhere at least once a month, at minimum. “We sing at sporting events, picnics, on Mother’s Day, on Valentine’s Day. You could say we spend a good bit of time together.”
For this performance, expect to see the Roof Garden Barbershop Chorus members having lots of fun onstage.
“We have a lot of Western-themed jokes, and we’ll all be wearing Western-themed outfits,” Hoffman said. “It’s going to look like you just rolled into a saloon.”
The Chorus has learned some special songs for the concert, including “Daddy Sang Bass” and “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash. “Man of Constant Sorrow” and “Happy Trails” have also made it onto the setlist.
Hoffman sings bass in Roof Garden Barbershop Chorus. He joined about four years ago after receiving an invitation from his co-worker, Ken Halverson, at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (Hoffman is part of the company’s The Ken and Rita Halverson Team).
“Ken brought the idea to the forefront of my mind,” Hoffman said, “and I’ve been at it ever since.”
Hoffman said he enjoys spending time with the members of the Chorus; it consists of mostly older gentlemen.
“It’s definitely neat to hear their stories,” he said. “Oftentimes, I’m hanging out with people my own age, so it’s nice to get a chance to hang out with them. Everyone comes from such diverse backgrounds, and you can learn a lot.”
The group practices every Tuesday night from 7 to 9 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, located at 320 Felgar Road in Somerset. Hoffman said males of any age who may be interested in joining the group are welcome to attend a rehearsal and see for themselves what goes into being a member of the Chorus.
“Singing in this chorus is fun, but it really is a bit of challenge—you have to know which part you’re supposed to sing, and at which time,” Hoffman said. “Singing is good for your brain, your lungs, your diaphragm. There are so many different health benefits that you can get from singing.”
Hoffman said Roof Garden Barbershop Chorus currently consists of 18 members. Roof Garden Barbershop Chorus was chartered in 1984 and they’ve been going strong to this day.
“Barbershop is definitely a unique style of music,” Hoffman said. “You can’t just tune into the radio and hear this. It isn’t a lost art, but it’s a shout to the past. It’s neat to be part of it as a member and as a person in the audience. When those four parts come together and create the note that buzzes in the air, it can give you chills.”
Somerset Area High School is located at 645 South Columbia Avenue in Somerset. Tickets for “How the West Was Sung” can be purchased at the door, or in advance by contacting the chorus via its official Facebook page. Children 12 and under are to receive free admission.