New chapter welcome: Star Harmony Chorus
One of our newest chapters is also unique in being one of the few chapters chartered exclusively by women. Follow their journey from living rooms during the pandemic to sending a director to Harmony University.
The Star Harmony Chorus of Star, Idaho, is one of about a dozen women’s choruses in the Barbershop Harmony Society. But while several other choruses launched alongside men’s or all-voices choruses in existing chapters, the Star, Idaho chapter is unique in being one of the only chapters that was founded from the start as an exclusively women’s chapter.
The chapter’s journey began in January 2020, when a few seasoned barbershop singers in the Boise area started meeting informally in living rooms to explore possibilities. Even as the pandemic set in, the core kept in touch, and as restrictions diminished, began meeting more regularly in the Fall of 2021, when they secured a director in self-described barbershop geek Matt Hart of the Boise Chordsmen and multiple quartets. He was joined at the helm by Robyn Whitmore, a busy middle and high school orchestra teacher and lead of Clover, a Sweet Adelines International quartet.
The group eventually chartered in February 2022 with 12 members, most of whom were brand new to barbershop of any kind. Founders Laura Pennington and Kaylyn Hyman and others find themselves as the administrative and cultural touchstones of the group, which spans ages 25 to 71. To bring the new singers further into the barbershop sphere, the weekly meeting includes “Homeschool HU” tidbits that introduce musical concepts, presentation, and the barbershop lifestyle.
Like most start-ups, getting through the first round of milestones is the immediate goal. “We find ourselves doing a lot of mentoring,” said Laura, “helping these very fine and capable people who simply haven’t handled some of these chorus chores before.” A web developer in the chapter helping with the new chapter site; a spouse/photographer shot their first chorus portrait. A BHS scholarship to Harmony University brought director Robyn Whitmore back loaded with new ideas and enhanced skills.
Although not competing this season, the group encourages participation at the Evergreen District Fall Convention, to become better immersed in the barbershop world and see its breadth. Planned performances support the chapter’s commitment to funding future growth: with 14 current singers, they hope to reach 20 by next Spring.
“Right now, we're just trying to have as much community engagement as we can, just sending our name out there,” said Kaylyn. “We’re just so happy to have a singing home and a place to go sing every week, and our directors are a blast— both have huge hearts, and a huge passion for the chorus. We’re really glad we chose to build a chapter in the Barbershop Harmony Society, and think its education opportunities for us will be great.”