Women join in harmony


The Mighty Oak Chorus opens membership to women after being an all-male quartet for 37 years

By Patrick Dillon

VISALIA – The Visalia chapter of the International Barbershop Harmony Society known as the Mighty Oak Chorus has been in existence for 37 years. The men’s chorus provide musical entertainment throughout Tulare and Kings counties. Now they are in the biggest change of the group’s history after the international society recently put out a statement saying groups may begin accepting female singers at each group’s discretion. This new world wide campaign is called “Everyone in Harmony.” The board of directors for the chorus voted yes, allowing women to join their group.

“This is the biggest change that has ever happened in the history of our chorus,” Lee Smith said. “There is a real benefit of hearing men and women singing together.”

Already the mood around the female singers’ community is one of excitement. There used to be a Sweet Adelines International chapter in Visalia around a decade ago. But due to dwindling numbers, they disbanded. The biggest response has come from former Adelines singers.

To make the expansion successful, the chorus needs to raise funds for new music, and costumes. The new music will offer the same wide range of Broadway show tunes, Disney songs, movie scores, and radio and television hits. “We don’t really see [the change] as obstacles but opportunities,” Lee said.

The chorus will continue to provide music scholarships for Youth Harmony Camps. For the past 10 years, the chorus has worked closely with local music directors. Each year they send five young male singers up to Pollock Pines in Sacramento.

The chorus will once again throw their “Western Round-Up” fundraiser on Oct. 6 at the Ritchie Barn in Ivanhoe. Tickets are $20, which includes a tri-tip dinner. It will be the public’s first chance to hear the female additions to the chorus.

For tickets or information, call Bud Case at 559-901-4615 or Dee Baughman at 559-280-5715 or visit their web site at visalimightyoakchorus.org.

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