Rich tones of barbershop harmony echo through the halls at Silver Threads centre at Bay Street and Richmond Avenue.
It’s a warm and welcoming sound after the dark and rain of winter outdoors. Then the Victoria Village Squires, burst into a welcome song, one rehearsed in this space routinely. But tonight, they prepare to spread love through Greater Victoria.
“Barbershop songs are all about love. We sing so many love songs it almost gets tiresome, but on the day of love we get to go out to our community and sing to people, give them a rose from someone they love, and a card,” says chorus director Peter McBride, a 25-year veteran of the hobby.
For $50, the Village Squires will serenade your loved one with two songs and present a rose and a card this Valentine’s Day. It’s something they’ve done the entire 50 years of the chorus, and groups in Nanaimo will perform similar services, says McBride.
“Our culture doesn’t sing to each other the way it did 50 or 60 year ago, modern technology has replaced that activity,” he said. “There’s something very primal, very social about being sung to and about singing to someone else. It’s part of the hobby.”
Made up of men from all over the south Island, the Village Squires perform regularly in the community, offer school and public learning programs, and entertain the public with their great mix of old classics and modern arrangements. The a cappella chorus is part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, an international singing movement of about 30,000 men.
McBride came to Victoria a year ago, performing before that on the Lower Mainland and in Washington. He discovered the craft when his wife said he needed a hobby, going so far as to seek out a barbershop quartet meeting to take him to.
“I swallowed the bait on the first night and I don’t think I’ve missed a meeting in 25 years,” McBride said. “It’s a far flung hobby and there are men who do this in every city around.”
Those looking to serenade a love with Let me Call you Sweetheart and Heart of my Heart I Love You can visit villagesquires.com or call 250-590-5997 for booking details.
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