Silk City Barbershop Chorus hosts annual concert

By Brenda Sullivan - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Wed., Jan. 29, 2014
The theme of the 51st annual concert by the Silk City Barbershop Chorus was 'Save Our Ship,' with a cast of 80 pirates, performed at Manchester High School on Jan. 25. Photos by Brenda Sullivan.
The theme of the 51st annual concert by the Silk City Barbershop Chorus was 'Save Our Ship,' with a cast of 80 pirates, performed at Manchester High School on Jan. 25. Photos by Brenda Sullivan.

Probably the most versatile and timeless musical instrument is the unadorned human voice, the richness of which was demonstrated at the 51st annual concert by the Silk City Barbershop Chorus, an 80-member, all-male ensemble singing barbershop style.

The Manchester-based group’s performance on Jan. 25 also included three other ensembles: Georgia-based Forefront, a quartet that placed fifth in the 2013 international SPEBSQSA Barbershop Harmony Society competition; A Mighty Wind, from Alabama, who placed third in the international contest; and representing the next generation carrying on the tradition of a capella, UConn’s Conn-Men.

The show’s two performances at Manchester High School filled every seat. The matinee performance brought in more than 100 seniors from other towns, such as Windsor and East Hampton.

The show began with the Silk City Chorus as a band of pirates whose plundering and adventuring on the high seas is interrupted by a visit from an IRS agent, played by the only woman in the concert, Jennifer McCann.

The pirates are told they are several years delinquent on their taxes and unless they pay up, they will lose their ship.

Bemoaning their ill luck and trying to come up with a way to pay their debt leads to a number of appropriately-themed songs, interspersed with delightfully corny jokes – such as this riddle from a pirate with a hook, "Why did the pirate cross the road? To get to the second-hand store!” – and some sing-along numbers with the audience.

Each of the guest groups added its own flavor of performance to the show.

Conn-Men’s repertoire included Marc Cohn’s "29 Ways" and Kurt Bestor’s "Prayer of the Children."

Among the audience favorites performed by Forefront was a Beach Boys-inspired tune that included references to 14 of that band’s hits, with the audience clapping along.

Another crowd-pleaser was a song from “Toy Story 2,” "When Somebody Loved Me."

And their version of Brenda Lee’s "If You Love Me (Really Love Me)" was preceded with applause for a couple in the audience married for more than 60 years.

During the intermission, a video was shown about services provided by MARC, Inc. – a Manchester-based nonprofit that provides services to the elderly, people with disabilities and their families – in recognition of a new partnership with the Silk City Chorus as of the ensemble’s 50th anniversary.

MARC Director of Marketing Kevin Zingler took the stage to comment on the group’s support, saying, "We thank them for believing in our mission and we look forward to a year full of happiness and joy for people in the Manchester community."

A Mighty Wind, whose members have been singing together for more than 25 years, were next on stage and began with an audience-participation rendition of "Sweet Caroline," followed by some comedy, a gospel tune, the American folks song "Bill Grogan’s Goat," and Frank Sinatra’s "My Way."

The show concluded with a reprieve by the IRS agent for the pirates when they convince her they are deeply in love with their ship – to which they dedicate the ballad, "How Deep is the Ocean" – and she allows them to take several tax deductions, such as classifying the ship as a "hybrid" and including one-eyed, one-armed and peg-legged pirates allowances under a "Pirates with Disabilities Act."

The chorus issued an invitation to those who might be interested in being a part of the group. The next open house/rehearsal is 7:15 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 3, at the Second Congregational Church, 385 North Main St. in Manchester. For more information, visit the website, email Ron Keith at or call 860-328-1876.

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