Sound Connection; Barbershop and the Australian a Cappella scene
Olivia Gliku | On 26, Sep 2017
Gold Coast based a cappella and barbershop group, Sound Connection are the 3rd only Australian chorus to have competed in the International Barbershop Harmony Society’s World Championships. This local ensemble took to the stage in Las Vegas in July of this year and progressed their journey to an impressive new level. About to defend their title as Australian champions, the group are in the midst of engaging with a busy period in the Australian a cappella and barbershop scene.
We were joined by Andrew Howson, Sound Connection’s Musical Director. Andrew told us about the ensemble’s origins, achievements, and future plans.
“We started back in April in 2012. Basically, we started off with somewhere between 15 and 20 likeminded guys who wanted to take the art form that they were already doing, and take it to the next level. So, everyone had previously been singing in other groups.”
Family is has become a central element of Sound Connection. With a number of father-son connections, the group is able to harness the power of a particularly strong connection through their relationships.
“Usually with these types of groups, everyone preaches that they’re a family after a certain amount of time. We’re not different from that, but I guess having that many father-son combinations is a little bit out of the ordinary for these type of groups. I’d say it would influence us in a way, maybe makes us a bit closer. A lot of people that have sons in the age bracket of 10 to 18 don’t really get the chance to do much with their kids, expect maybe take them to weekend sports, and that’s about it. So, this is a good opportunity to allow them to actually do something together.”
Additionally, Andrew’s wife, Jen is the is choreographer and movement coach for Sound Connection. He explained how working with his wife can make for a different type of creative partnership.
“I guess, the only difference is that we can get into each other’s brain more than other people. We’re able to tag team a coaching session a little more fluidly, and with not much verbal conversation to know what’s going on. Sometimes it can just be a look and the other person knows to step in and take over.”
This week, Sound Connection are spending time in Sydney, where they will participate in the Sydney a Cappella Festival and the Pan-Pacific Barbershop Harmony Australia Convention.
“We’re going down there to compete in our national competition, there’s about three competitions in one. Our national competition where we will be defending our Gold medal title, which we had back in 2015.”
The Pan-Pacific Convention happens every three years and will see Sound Connection competing against groups from New Zealand, Japan, the rest of Australia and Hawaii.
Sound Connection are setting goals for a future that involves collaborating across different genres, as well as performing outside of competitions.
“When we first started as a group, we had a list of goals. Over the first four or five years of our existence, we were ticking of that list”
By around July this year, the group found themselves asking “we’ve done that, now what’s next?”
“We’re looking to do something a little bit different. Not just do competitions, but start to hopefully reach out to and collaborate with other musical genres, and try to get a but more into the community with what we do. We do a lot of national stuff, but we’d like to do more local stuff as well.”
Groups like the Pentatonix, and Deke Sharon’s work with Pitch Perfect and The Sing Off have led to an increase in the popularity of a cappella, something that Andrew says has benefited other performance groups.
“It certainly is making it easier for acapella artists to not have to explain what we do and who we are. People already get it because of those groups. Capitalising on that, going in the new direction of reaching out to people, especially locally.”
With their plans for further work both inside and outside of competitions, Sound Connection are sure to have an exciting future ahead of them. You can keep up to date with their work here. Head to https://www.barbershop.org.au if you want to check out what’s happening in Sydney this week.