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Director Bruce Hansen conducts the Goldenaires, as Chris Riordan (blue shirt) sits in the front row. Photo: Nora Flaherty
Director Bruce Hansen conducts the Goldenaires, as Chris Riordan (blue shirt) sits in the front row. Photo: Nora Flaherty

Barbershop chorus is longtime Canton tradition

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The Canton Goldenaires have been singing four-part harmonies for fifty years now. They're a chorus, not a quartet, but their sound is very much what you'd expect from a barbershop group--although they don't wear the striped blazers and boater hats.

You might think a barbershop group, with its old-timey singing style, would attract a distinctly older demographic. But the Goldenaires' singers range in age from 28 to 78.

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Nora Flaherty
Digital Editor, News

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Clark Warner sings with the group. Photo: Nora Flaherty
Clark Warner sings with the group. Photo: Nora Flaherty
After a vocal warmup, the Goldenaires begin their practice. Clark Warner is from Norwood; a retired veterinary assistant, he's 78. He says the group has been singing together since 1961.

"It's a national/international organization, people all over the world. It started in Oklahoma back in the 1930s, depression days, or just after that, and been growing ever since, mostly growing…we're the northernmost chapter—there's one in Cornwall [Ontario]."

It's just pure tones...four men singing four different parts that come together and make a hopefully really nice sound.
Asked why he loves barbershop, Warner says it's just "the absolutely beautiful tones, if you've never heard it, it's just pure tones. It's just unaccompanied, four men singing four different parts that come together and make a hopefully really nice sound."

The Goldenaires' theme song is sung to a tune that some might recognize as the Kellerman's theme song from the movie Dirty Dancing—the group's members laugh when I point this out, and tell me it's "everyone's theme song."

At 28, member Chris Riordan may be too young to remember Dirty Dancing. He's been singing with the Goldenaires about eight years ago. A teacher at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center's Children and Youth Services, he says he's been the youngest most of the time since he joined.

What does he like about barbershop? "The harmony, the chords, the camaraderie…it's just a lot of fun."

The Canton Goldenaires will be holding their annual holiday benefit concert Monday, December 10, at 7pm at the Presbyterian Church in Canton.

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