The Houston Tidelanders Chorus is the performing chorus of the 30,000-man Barbershop Harmony Society’s Houston Chapter. We are an a cappella, i.e. unaccompanied, men’s singing organization comprised of quartets and our large performing chorus. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, chartered in 1946. There are more than 825 BHS chapters in the United States alone and our peers consistently rank us among the Top 20 performing choruses at the Society’s International Chorus Competition.
While attempting to preserve the Barbershop harmony style, which, like jazz, is a musical form unique to the United States, we recognize the importance of broadening our audience appeal so that we are more than a niche performing arts group. We don’t merely sing those old “chestnuts” from the early 1900’s, beautiful though they may have been. Instead, we perform recognizable pop tunes, Broadway show music, country and western or Gospel songs, which are far more contemporary but which we sing in the Barbershop style, none-the-less.
Our membership is broad-based, ranging in age from 18 to 80, representing the ethnic and cultural diversity of the Greater Houston community, and including every occupation imaginable. With the exception of our Musical Directors who receive modest stipends for their musical talents, all of our members are volunteers. We rehearse 46 weeks per year and the average member of our performing chorus attends nearly 80% of the rehearsals plus most of the performances. Few volunteer organizations are able to claim that level of member dedication.
The Tidelanders Chorus presents annual shows at Houston Baptist University’s Dunham Theater, as well as suburban cabaret-style “Good Time” shows around the City each year. In addition to our various revenue-generating performances, we also present benefit appearances at area churches, schools and hospitals.
We’re sometimes asked what the Tidelanders do besides sing, who we serve and what we expect to accomplish. Our Mission Statement includes the following: “We will actively contribute our efforts toward enhancing the overall lifestyle and cultural quality of our communities by providing wholesome entertainment, bonding diverse people through the joy of singing and supporting vocal music education with our youth outreach programs.” That is not mere hyperbole. While it is true that belonging to the Tidelanders Chorus is a hobby, it’s also an effective way to eliminate everyday stress by immersion in an enjoyable but creative activity. We aren’t mere self-serving performing arts hobbyists, however. The Houston Chapter is recognized as having one of the most active community outreach programs in the Barbershop Harmony Society. We share a common love of singing and sharing whatever God-given musical talent we may have with our communities.
The Tides conduct youth music education programs. We hold annual Harmony Workshops for Intermediate and High School students in the Greater Houston area. Hundreds of students from dozens of local schools have attended these sessions. We also fund scholarships which provide the opportunity for area young men and their Choral Directors to attend Society classes devoted to four-part a cappella musical training. Our chapter quartets regularly perform at high school scholastic programs and several Tidelanders coach high school quartets.
The Tidelanders have been active in the Greater Houston community for over 60 years. It is estimated that we reach at least 8,000 people each year with our chorus and quartet performances or through our various community outreach activities. Whenever we participate at our Society’s International Chorus Competition, something we have done for six of the past seven years, we perform for an additional 8,000+ people. We’ll continue providing wholesome, high-quality, entertainment to our audiences in the years ahead. We won’t stop encouraging young people to become more deeply involved in vocal music at their schools and in their churches, if, for no other reason, than the sheer fun and camaraderie that such music offers throughout their lives. Our doors are always open. Why not visit one of our no-strings-attached rehearsals and see what we’re all about?