There are many talented male singers around Bakersfield but few opportunities for them join a male choir.

Until now.

Bakersfield College choir director Jennifer Garrett is starting a men's chorus  later this month.

"I really want to bring the joy of singing to men," Garrett said.

Garrett noted that a lot of men — ranging from high school students to mature adults — are missing out on the fun in singing, and that a men's chorus might be the answer.

"You look at the high school choirs and they are two-thirds women," Garrett said.

Opportunities for men to sing are generally limited outside the standard mixed choir of soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Garrett noted that neither BC nor Cal State Bakersfield has a men's chorus, and that aside from barbershop groups, all-male choral singing groups are hard to find locally.

But Garrett said the interest is here.

"A lot of men at BC had asked about (creating a men's chorus) as a club, so that's where that started," Garrett said.

"A lot of high school students would like to sing at BC, but our (only night) group is our Chamber Singers," she said, referring to an elite ensemble that travels to festivals and conferences. 

There is a rich tradition of choral music for men, typically arranged for first and second tenor, and baritone and bass, but also including more complex division of parts. Besides the popular barbershop-style harmonies and repertoire, the list runs the gamut: from cowboy songs, drinking songs and sea shanties to opera choruses, music from the great symphonic choral repertoire, Disney medleys and special arrangements of existing music.

The new chorus class will begin with BC's fall semester, which starts August 26. The one-unit performance class rehearsals are scheduled for Thursdays from 4:10-7:20 p.m. in the choir room in the Simonsen Performing Arts Center.

"I did that time very purposefully, so that high school students and members of the community can do it," Garrett said.

Instead of a traditional audition, Garrett said she plans to "voice" the singers — determine their voice category and where they should sit in the section — on the first day of class, which will be August 29. Once that is done, the men's chorus will get to work quickly with a performance schedule that includes performances in the college's recognition of Mahatma Gandhi in October; joining the BC choirs and the Bakersfield Symphony for the now-annual holiday pops concert; singing the national anthem at a BC football game, and many other events over the academic year.

If the Men's Chorus class is successful, Garrett envisions also creating a Women's Chorus and even a jazz chorus in the future.

"I want people to see how cool singing can be," Garrett said.

Susan Scaffidi is a freelance music journalist. She can be reached at scaffidi@twc.com.

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