Chapter History

The Sarasota Chapter was founded by a Boston Irishman named John Whelan who came to watch the Boston Red Sox play at Payne Park behind the courthouse. He called choir directors, visited service clubs, met with newspaper publishers and spread the word. He put an ad in the paper announcing that those interested in singing in a barbershop chorus and quartets should meet in the Orange Blossom hotel mezzanine at a set time and date. Much to his surprise sixty men showed up ready to sing. With no printed music but love for the four-part harmony and wild enthusiasm, they sang and sang. They then decided to join the mysterious group called the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA).

 

Officers were elected, dues collected, and with sponsorship from the Tampa Chapter (The Heralds of Harmony Chorus), a charter was received in May, 1949 from the SPEBSQSA headquarters and the Sarasota Chapter (Sarasota Chorus of the Keys Chorus) was official.  Since that time the SPEBSQSA is now more commonly referred to as the Barbershop Harmony Society and the Sarasota Chapter has grown to an organization of 100 members.  At full strength, with the return of the Snowbirds during the winter, the singing unit of the chorus grows to 40 -60 men. 

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