SPEBSQSASociety for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (now Barbershop Harmony Society)
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In 1974 the men's clubs formalized their interaction at a national level and created the British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS), which is affiliated to SPEBSQSA. Two years later, the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers (LABBS) formed as a sister organization.
This segregation is sometimes explained in terms of the differing vocal qualities of men and women--the timbres are too different, it is argued, to achieve the expansion of sound that forms one of the main musical goals of the genre--but in fact probably has more to do with certain features of the compositional style mandated by SPEBSQSA, which is predicated on the vocal range of a single-sex ensemble.
The more directly musical concerns of judging competitions and providing educational support, meanwhile, are undertaken by a separate music team (Music and Judging Committee in LABBS, Guild of Judges in BABS) that is trained within each association and separately accredited by SPEBSQSA. Both associations also provide other services such as newsletters and retail sheet music, recordings and memorabilia.
Since both LABBS and BABS use the style definitions and judging criteria issued by SPEBSQSA, it is inevitable that their repertoire will be identical in style.
In the November issue of Harmony Express, a front-page article announced the Guild of Judges' decision to accept judges accredited by other organizations--in the first instance SPEBSQSA and LABBS, but anticipating the inclusion of the Irish and Scandinavian associations in time--as equivalent to those of BABS.(25) No mention was made of the incident in May, but the conditions that provoked it--the general shortage of judges, particularly when many judges are also active performers--was given as the primary rationale.
In the concluding chapter, Max Kaplan examines "SPEBSQSA's Future: Tradition and Innovation." He first discusses the Society's traditions from the past, then describes innovations that will further the Society's aims without disrupting the traditions.
SPEBSQSA is the largest male singing society in the world, with 40,000 members; add to this the 35,000 members of the women's groups and the widespread support of this American musical tradition is self-evident.
Perhaps the society could publicize more its own Heritage of Harmony History Book (Kenosha, Wis.: SPEBSQSA, Inc., 1988).
In 2003, Gus was invited to Montreal to accept a pin recognizing his 50-year membership in The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA).
Cliff was a long time member of several barbershop choruses, held membership with SPEBSQSA for many years and passed his love of singing on to all of his children.