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Quartet registration now open to women's and mixed harmony quartets

January 2, 2019

Next Step in Realization of Everyone in Harmony

Today the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) announces the next step in the realization of the Everyone in Harmony Strategic Vision by inviting women who are members of BHS to register official BHS quartets and access quartet benefits. The goal of the quartet program expansion is to encourage more members to engage in quartet singing -- one of the foundations of the Society. Registered quartets will also be eligible to compete in official BHS contests offered at the district level, and many districts are planning to offer contests for mixed ensembles in 2019.

BHS Quartet Program Expansion

General

Effective immediately, women who are BHS members may become members of BHS-registered quartets. To enable this expansion, three categories of quartets will be created:

  • Men's quartet
  • Women's quartet
  • Mixed Harmony quartet


All registered quartets receive the same rights and services, including:

  • Exclusive rights to quartet name within its category
  • Exclusive access to apply for Larry Ajer quartet scholarship at Harmony University
  • Inclusion in the BHS website and searchable quartet database in Member Center
  • Quartet ID cards
  • Discount on exhibits, program book, and jumbotron advertising at conventions
  • 35% BHS discount with GigSalad.com
  • Access to the new and updated Quartet Guidebook and the newly created Subject Matter Expert database for performing quartets

Quartet registration is required for entry in official BHS contests. A BHS registered quartet may enter a contest in the category for which it is registered — Men’s, Mixed Harmony, or Women’s. Many districts are planning to offer contests for mixed ensembles in 2019.

While the 2019 International-level and International preliminary contest cycle (Seniors contest at the Midwinter convention and Open contest at the International convention) is currently limited to the Men’s category, planning is underway to introduce Mixed Harmony and Women’s categories in the future. More information about entering contests is available here.

Quartet Names

  • Each registered quartet has exclusive rights to the registered name within its category
  • All past International Champion quartet names through 2018 (from Bartlesville Barflies to After Hours) will be retired across all categories and unavailable to another quartet for future use in any category
  • Names must be in good taste
  • Names must be distinct and not likely to cause confusion
  • Geographic location, home district, and other factors will be considered when approving names that are the same or similar to another quartet in a different category
  • Consideration will be given for an established women’s or mixed harmony quartet that has been operating publicly with a particular name and has not been able to register previously
  • BHS has discretion for name approval and can refuse to register any name for any reason, especially names that are in poor taste or likely to cause confusion

Reserving a name in more than one category

The new quartet program guidelines do not specifically prohibit the same quartet name in more than one category. However, in practice, BHS will endeavor to limit confusion that may be caused by more than one active quartet with the same name serving the same geographic area.

What does this mean in practice? While the guidelines do not specifically prohibit a women’s or mixed quartet from registering a quartet with the same name as a currently active men’s quartet competing at the International level (such as Signature, Quorum, Newfangled Four, etc.), the name would not be approved due to the fact it would likely cause confusion.

Conversely, a mixed harmony or women’s quartet would likely be allowed to register a quartet with the same name as a men’s 5th place medalist quartet from the 1950s. While that name is retired in the men’s category, if the quartet is not active today, the duplicate name is not likely to cause confusion.

Any quartet who wishes to secure complete name exclusivity may reserve it in more than one category if desired, assuming that the name is available in both/all categories. The annual cost for reserving a name in two categories is $120 ($60 x 2). A discount will be given for a quartet wishing to reserve a name in all three categories; the annual cost is $150.

Quartet Name Exclusivity

Registering a quartet provides exclusive use of the name within that category (Men's, Women's, or Mixed Harmony). Example: A group registers as a mixed quartet. A different group of singers applies for the same name for a women’s quartet. Both quartets may be allowed to use the name if they are not serving the same geographical area.

  • Changing or adding categories requires registering a new or additional quartet. The name of the new quartet is subject to availability within that category. Example: A mixed quartet replaces its only man with a woman and wishes to move forward as a women’s quartet. If a different women’s group is already registered with that quartet name, the changing group must select another name in order to register as a women’s quartet.
  • Quartet names are exclusive only while the quartet membership is actively maintained, paid in full, and all members remain current members of BHS.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Membership

Why are we making this change at this time?



This timeline follows the Roadmap and Milestones progression shared in 2018, under the Scale Assets and Scale Participation and Engagement workstreams. You can view that detailed information and video here.

Everyone in Harmony is all about getting more people singing barbershop. The Strategic Vision document states: "We will re-invest in and revitalize quartet singing." This requires us to be able to grow our quartet program from our current 1,200 quartets to 12,000... 20,000... 100,000 in the future. The goal, as identified in the Strategic Vision Roadmap and Milestones, is that by 2028 there are 1.2 million people engaged in barbershop in the BHS universe. Imagine how many quartets that might be! We want to make it as easy as possible to get as many people singing as possible, without a lot of limitations and exclusions as barriers.

Must quartet members also be members of a district or chapter?

To register a quartet, all 4 individuals must be members of the Barbershop Harmony Society. In order to compete, all 4 members must meet the contest eligibility requirements, which may include being members of a district and chapter according to the contest rules. More information about entering contests is available here.

How do transgender and non-binary individuals locate themselves in this categorization?

BHS acknowledges self-identification by individuals, as each person chooses to list in the member database.

In general:

  • A men’s quartet consists of individuals listed as male.
  • A women’s quartet consists of individuals listed as female.
  • A mixed harmony quartet consists of any four individuals, who are not all listed as male or female as noted above.

However, as noted in previous questions, a quartet may reserve a name in more than one category if desired, as registering and reserving a name does not necessarily translate to contest eligibility. Current contest rules require that any quartet competing in the men’s contest must consist of four individuals who identify as male. More information about entering contests is available here.

Contests

When will mixed harmony and women’s quartets be able to participate in official BHS Division and District contests?

Many district conventions are already planning to include mixed harmony or women’s quartet awards as part of their 2019 quartet contest sessions. Specific contest award opportunities are determined by individual districts. In addition, most districts allow for quartets to perform on the contest stage for “score and evaluation only,” even when they are not eligible for any available awards. Reference the individual district website or contact the respective District Representative for Contest and Judging (DRCJ) for more information.

When will mixed harmony and women’s quartets be able to participate in official BHS International contests?

Still to be determined. BHS is working with the Society Contest & Judging Committee (SCJC) and other stakeholders to provide guidance in 2019.

How are the requirements for quartet registrations different than the requirements for contest eligibility?

Registration as a BHS quartet is one of the requirements of contest eligibility in an official BHS contest. The other requirements depend on the contest and might include achieving a qualifying score in a preliminary contest or other eligibility factors such as age. More information about entering contests is available here.

Quartet Names

Can a quartet reserve a name in more than one category?

Yes. Any quartet who wishes to secure complete name exclusivity may register in more than one category if desired, assuming that the name is available in both/all categories. (See above for details and costs.)

The new quartet program guidelines do not specifically prohibit multiple quartets with the same name in multiple categories. However, in practice, BHS will endeavor to limit confusion that may be caused by more than one active quartet with the same name serving the same geographic area.

Can a men's or women’s quartet could reserve a name in both the women’s and men’s categories?

Yes, if any quartet wanted to reserve name exclusivity across categories, the quartet could reserve their name in all categories. However, reserving a name in the men’s category does not make a quartet eligible to compete in the men’s quartet contest -- the quartet must also meet the other eligibility requirements. More information about entering contests is available here.

Can a mixed quartet registered as both a mixed harmony and men’s quartet compete in the men’s contest?

No, the quartet must also meet the other eligibility requirements. Registering as a men’s quartet is not the only requirement and alone does not make a quartet eligible to compete in a men’s quartet contest. More information about entering contests is available here.

If names can be duplicated between men’s, women’s, and mixed quartets within BHS, won’t there be confusion?

The new quartet program guidelines do not specifically prohibit multiple quartets with the same name in multiple categories. However, in practice, BHS will endeavor to limit confusion that may be caused by more than one active quartet with the same name serving the same geographic area.

BHS reserves the right to refuse to register quartet names that might cause confusion, such as a women’s quartet with the same name as a men’s quartet serving the same geographical area. By the same token, a men’s quartet wishing to register the same name as a current champion women’s quartet (even if not registered with BHS) is likely to be refused -- and has been in the past.

Why aren’t names exclusive across all categories?

The new quartet program guidelines do not specifically prohibit multiple quartets with the same name in multiple categories. However, in practice, BHS will endeavor to limit confusion that may be caused by more than one active quartet with the same name serving the same geographic area -- especially in the near term.

“Everyone in Harmony” is all about getting more people singing barbershop. The Strategic Vision document states: "We will re-invest in and revitalize quartet singing." This means being able to scale our quartet program from our current 1,200 quartets to 12,000... 20,000... 100,000 quartets in the future. As we build toward a day when we register not a few thousand quartets, but tens or even hundreds of thousands of quartets, our thinking about quartet names must allow for that level of growth.

Will future International gold medalist champion names be retired?

Yes, the names of the three International gold medalist champions (in the Seniors, Open, and NextGen Varsity contests) will be retired in the men’s category. Should BHS offer mixed harmony or women’s contests in the future, we anticipate those gold medalist quartet names will also be retired in their respective categories.

Will previously retired men’s medalist quartet names continue to be retired?

Yes. All previously retired men’s medalist quartet names continue to be retired in the men’s category.