BarberSoc’s end-of-year concert at Marrickville Town Hall on Sunday brought tears of laughter and reflection to the large crowd who had gathered to watch. The title of the concert alone – Humming of Age – was enough to lure stressed university students from their desks to experience a show full of passion and energy (with some funky footwork integrated into many songs). Running for over two hours, BarberSoc’s four core choirs, as well as its collection of small ensembles, sang their way through childhood classics to magically transport the crowd down memory lane.
BarberSoc, The University of Sydney’s A Cappella Society, are a society of singers who perform everything from classic a cappella tunes to groovy arrangements of modern pop-hits. Founded in 2014 as a group of small ensembles, the society now boasts four choirs who rehearse weekly: The Power Chords, Pitch Please, Duly Noted, and The Accidentals. Importantly, these choirs are queer-friendly – delineating groups based on vocal range rather than gender – and culturally inclusive, welcoming anybody with a passion for jamming. BarberSoc’s inclusive nature was apparent throughout the concert. It was clear that every singer felt that they belonged in this musical community, shown through the unique way each performer interpreted the music.
Inclusion is at the heart of BarberSoc, a sentiment echoed by the society’s current president, Lisa Gronich.
“[We are] primarily a social choir… a space for people to gather and bond through singing together, and we nurture that community through post rehearsal pub hangouts, social events and camps. It’s just such a wholesome space and above all, we want to make sure that this wholesome and safe space continues existing”, Gronich told Honi.
Humming of Age was divided into two acts. Act I immediately threw us into the depths of nostalgia with an arrangement of C is for Cookie from ‘Sesame Street’. A special mention to the individual dressed in a Cookie Monster onesie who showered the audience in an animated dance routine. You were the star of the performance, thank you. Other notable mentions from Act I include I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song) from ‘The Jungle Book’, Butter Outta Cream from ‘Catch Me If You Can’, and Radiohead’s No Surprises.
The final performance of Act I hit home. After a congratulatory speech, the 2023 BarberSoc executive team sang a beautiful rendition of Rivers and Roads by The Heart and the Head. An emotional song about the passing of time and friends going different places, this performance saw tears well in the audience’s eyes. These tears started streaming when the remainder of the a cappella crew joined the executive team in the song’s final chorus, singing at the back of the hall with their phone lights waving in unison. Many audience members got out their phone lights and joined in, wrapping up Act I in an emotional yet touching manner.
Act II began with the Bulgarian Folk Song, Kaval Sviri. In a clever piece of staging, the small ensemble were positioned in the town hall’s upstairs gallery behind the audience. With the lights dimmed, the beautiful harmonies of the folk song had audience member’s closing their eyes to bask in the song’s beauty. Act II also featured Queen’s Seaside Rendezvous, How Does a Moment Last Forever from 2017’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’, The Cat Empire’s Steal the Light, and Accidentally in Love by Counting Crows. But, the concert’s most breathtaking moment came at the end of Act II with a harmonically rich rendition of Billie Eilish’s What Was I Made For? from this year’s Barbie movie. All choir members joined together to encircle the audience, sending panoramic waves of melodies throughout the town hall.
The final piece certainly showcased the scope of talent that BarberSoc boasts, from the angelic voices of the descants to the deep, almost monastic sounds of the bass. However, perhaps more importantly, the performance perfectly embodied the society’s passionate spirit and their drive to share this love of music with all those who want to get involved.