About Northwest Sound
We are a men's a cappella chorus, and the Bellevue Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. We perform in a variety of musical styles including Americana, jazz, show tunes, pop and more, all done with distinctively rich barbershop harmonies. Come to one of our shows and you might hear Songs from classics like Puttin’ on the Ritz and Wonderful World to popular hits by artists like Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr., Queen, and the Beatles, from songs featured in Disney films to songs from great stage musicals like Man of La Mancha and Forever Plaid. We produce and perform concerts several times per year featuring different groups from within Northwest Sound, local community choruses, and other local and nationally known a capella performers. We also perform at local festivals, community events and for private functions.
Northwest Sound is a teaching chorus with over 30 years of providing regular vocal coaching and instruction for its members as well as special programs teaching a capella singing to members of the community. We are the premier barbershop chorus in the Northwest with a reputation for quality that attracts members from as far away as Tacoma and Vancouver, BC. We have a highly trained and accomplished music team and coaches with decades of experience, awards from regional and international competitions, and qualification as contest judges. We use instructional techniques and materials from Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) to enable singers with a wide variety of musical backgrounds and talents to learn, improve and enjoy developing their skills to the fullest.
Part of the barbershop culture is to showcase the skills we’ve gained and share the joy of our accomplishments in regular friendly competitions. Northwest Sound won its first competition in just the 3rd year of existence and has continued to perform at a high level throughout its history. We have been regional champion and International competitors 12 times in our 32 years, including each of the last 3 years. With the inspiration and expert direction from our Music Director Ken Potter and our greatly expanded musical team, we have steadily improved scores over last 3 years moving from 27th to 13th place among choruses at the BHS International competitions.
Barbershop is about harmony in human voices coming together to create beautiful and inspirational music. It is a brotherhood where men of all ages can join together in this truly American art form and form friendships that last a lifetime. It provides challenge, growth, and commitment - singing great a cappella harmony is continuous journey of learning. The combination of delight in music, friendship, and personal growth makes barbershop singing a joyous and fulfilling hobby. Will we see you at our next rehearsal? We rehearse most Wednesday evenings at 7pm at First United Methodist Church in Bellevue (1934 108th Ave. NE). All are welcome to visit or join in.
Northwest Sound Vision
“Ποταμοῖσι δὶς τοῖσι αὐτοῖσι οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης, ἕτερα γὰρ ἐπιρρέει ὕδατα,” wrote the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. “Into the same river, you cannot step twice, for new waters are continually flowing.”
When we look at Northwest Sound today, it is obvious that we are about to step into a new river. Challenges and opportunities converge all around us. We are at the heart of a region known for high-level musical talent. Northwest Sound meets in the center of that region, easily accessible to a multitude of resources. Northwest Sound is large enough to be able to develop in any direction it chooses. In our music leadership, we have representatives of 11 of the past 20 District champion quartets. Among our senior members, we have representatives of three international medalist quartets. We have Northwest Sound members who have won gold, silver, and bronze International chorus medals. We have coaches in our chapter that coach other choruses throughout the Society. Among our friends and neighbors, we can count recent and past International Quartet champions and Senior International Quartet champions, along with some of the finest coaches in all of the Society a short drive away from our rehearsals. We have among us Society and District visionary leaders and the appropriate level of finances to allow us to achieve our dreams.
It is clear that we have most of the resources that any chorus might ever hope to have. The final step is to create a crystal clear focus, a vision of what we will become.
A vision provides inspiration and direction. A vision captures the future in today’s terms, allowing growth to its fulfillment. In short, a vision encompasses our dreams. When observing ourselves in the future, maybe five years away, the vision of Northwest Sound circumscribes the following eight pillars:
Committed Members – We have become a band of brothers, committed to creating art through vocal expression. There is no weak link among us; we all lift each other to create music. Everyone prepares for each rehearsal, and no one dares miss a chance to share with each other for the brief hours we have allotted to Northwest Sound each week.
A Strong Foundational Organization – Northwest Sound is a chorus first, supported by an organization that seamlessly provides all the operations a chorus needs. Everyone has an important role to play, and each member fulfills his duties diligently. We now have the freedom to enjoy the music that we are creating.
A High Membership Skill Level – Each Northwest Sound member has become a better singer and has enjoyed the journey to become such. We understand clearly what we can do to help produce a more artistic presentation for our audience.
Rehearsals Are Both Work and Fun – We are exhausted at the end of each rehearsal, but we never understand how the time went by so quickly. It was not because we spent any time on mundane tasks like learning words, notes and breaths. We learned them outside of rehearsal time, well before Northwest Sound began rehearsing the song for the first time. Rehearsal time is almost sacred, not to be wasted. Each week is a new opportunity to increase our performance level, whether the song is new, or a well-known repertoire piece.
Continual Growth – There is a place for everyone in Northwest Sound. Whether you are the new guy just learning, a young stud with a booming voice, or an accomplished senior quarteter, everyone has a place, because everyone can either learn or teach. Sometimes it is hard to find parking if you do not show up an hour early, because that is when a lot of the fun starts. From the moment a guest shows up until he graduates to the eternal chapter, he is growing from singer, to musician, to performer, and finally, to artist, all within the Northwest Sound barbershop framework.
Artistic Music – Barbershop is the core of what Northwest Sound does. Realizing that variety creates interest and that our goal is to entertain, we embrace other vocal art forms and perform many such pieces. In everything Northwest Sound does, quality is the key. We have allied ourselves with other quality groups and routinely combine to present varied musical pack ages to a wide audience base. Northwest Sound is known for our repertoire of privately arranged signature songs that we are proud to present to our appreciative audiences.
A Competitive Heart – While competing may not be Northwest Sound’s only goal, it is an important part of our growth, and it has provided us with benchmarks along the way. We always present artistic performances, both on the contest stage and off. We have just returned from another International contest where we were in the once-elusive top 10 again. We expect to be there each year we compete. Northwest Sound may choose to take a year off now and then to develop some new artistic ventures.
A Culture of Respect – We work diligently developing a culture of respect within Northwest Sound. During rehearsal time, we pay strict attention to those leading the activities, to maximize our efforts and enjoyment of the ensemble time. We care sincerely for our brothers in our chapter and in those chapters around us. We respect other choruses and they respect us.
Our vision is distilled into the following mission, which serves to both summarize our dreams and drive our actions:
Northwest Sound is a brotherhood of men united in a cappella harmony, predominately in the barbershop style, to provide joy and entertainment to all who hear and participate. Northwest Sound seeks to achieve the highest level of artistry in all of our presentations so that we might properly preserve our musical heritage by bringing it to life for ourselves and for our audiences in today’s setting. Through our music, we endeavor to lift those who need lifting, cheer those who need cheering and serve those who need serving.