The Gold Standard Barbershop Chorus of Santa Cruz County celebrates its 23rd birthday on Sept. 25. That’s 23 years of great-fun weekly rehearsals, delivering Valengrams in February, putting on an annual cabaret show in June, mounting SING FOR YOUR LIFE, a youth outreach show, in November, singing carols in hospitals and retirement homes in December, and sending quartets into the county’s high schools each year to demonstrate barbershop music, one of America’s indigenous music forms.
In the autumn of 1989, Carol Hulla, Ken Brosius and Sam Gonzales met to discuss the formation of a new barbershop chorus. They were able to bring in a few members of the defunct Surf City (barbershop) Chorus. The first rehearsal was held in Scotts Valley within weeks after the San Andreas Earthquake. Soon they had enough members to become a chapter of the international Barbershop Harmony Society, officially the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA).
Gold Standard Chorus’s program of visiting schools led to inviting Aptos High School to perform on a chapter show in 2003. That show was the launch of Sing for Your Life, an annual fundraiser for vocal music in the county’s high schools. In the last nine years, the show has distributed $58,000 to music teachers. This coming November, ten high schools are expected to perform in the 10th annual SFYL at the Civic Auditorium.
With money raised during raffles at SFYL and the chorus’s annual cabaret show, the Ken Brosius Memorial Scholarship has provided $6,500 to 10 graduating seniors for their college studies of music since 2007.
When chorus member Caralyn Steinberg passed away in 2009, her family established a fund to help music teachers with projects not covered in their schools’ budgets. In the last two years, $3,900 has been distributed to seven high schools. Add it up – a $68,400 impact on music in our community by a chorus of 25 singers.
Gold Standard was selected Chapter of the Year by the Far Western District (2007). In 2011 the Society ranked Gold Standard number 1 among 50 small chapters nationwide, and number 31 among all 333 chapters, regardless of size, in its Chapter Achievement Survey.
Looking forward to its 24th year, chorus director Jordan Johnson said, “We aim to be the most supportive, beginner-friendly group around, and expect continued musical growth, as a group and individually” Chorus president Nick Roberto, a student at Cabrillo, and possibly the youngest chapter president in the Society, added, “I hope we can get some new members this year to continue singing those barbershop chords we all know and love!”
Come join the fun!