Mike Pascutoi / Contributing Photographer

One of UR’s best qualities is the opportunity to further your interests with the bevy of clubs and scheduled events regularly occurring around campus. However, despite a considerable degree of interest from the music community, barbershop singing has not developed as a club or organization on campus.

However, several students on campus have continued to pursue their passion of barbershop, attempting to create a niche for a musical style that is predominantly viewed as being too outdated for modern audiences.

Sophomore Kedar Shashidhar, a barbershop aficionado, is among them. Shashidhar, along with senior Ben McCormack and junior Matthew DeMartino, recently joined Brad Babiak of Jamestown Community College to form a barbershop quartet called “After the Rain.” Since its inception in February, the group has rapidly developed as a group and has begun competing. Barbershop, a style of unaccompanied vocal performance originating in the late 1800s, traditionally limits the size of a group to four members and is an arduous, complicated style of music. Its zenith as a performance style, though, was in the 1920, and has since then faded except for a small, rapidly aging group of adherents.

That’s not to say that barbershop is unknown to modern culture; barbershop has been referenced on several major television comedy series including “The Simpsons,”“Arrested Development,” and “Scrubs.”The music themess are found in pop songs from the boy-band era. Most recently, the YellowJackets performed a barbershop number, “Goodbye, My Coney Island Baby” in their spring show.

As one of the steadily increasing number of collegiate barbershop quartets, After the Rain has found unusually rapid success. At its first competition on April 12, After the Rain performed with two other collegiate groups at the Senecaland regional in Geneva. Performing “Hello My Baby” and “From the First Hello to the Last Goodbye,” it outperformed their competition the compeditors and placed first. Their victory helped qualify them for an international competition hosted by the Barbershop Harmony Society, where they will be competing against dozens of other highly skilled singers as the 13th-seeded team.

When asked about sharing their interest in barbershop with the UR community, Shashidhar and McCormack both were incredibly open with the idea.

McCormack voiced skepticism though. “Most people who have an interest in barbershop are usually already performing music on-campus,”

McCormack said, “It would be hard for a coherent group to form if all the people interested are already in an a cappella group.”

Shashidhar is more enthusiastic about the prospect of such an idea working due to the challenge and enjoyment it brings, commenting that, “barbershop is the black belt of a cappella singing. When done right, four-part harmonies can be super effective.”

He went on to state that although barbershop groups are independent of groups from other schools, it was conceivable for a group to form like that on-campus.

After the Rain will be competing in the Barbershop Harmony Society’s international final in early July. As they continues to rehearse, one can only hope that this fledgling subgenre of music continues to thrive, at least for those who are willing to put in the work to not only learn the style of music, but to find others interested in singing with them.

Pascutoi is a member of the class of 2015.



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