The Barbershop Journey of Jim Civarra

Bellevue Youth Choral Festival Report
April 18, 2023
President’s Message
April 18, 2023

The journey actually begins with my introduction to choral music in junior high school (when General Eisenhower was President). I progressed from there through high school and the UW, the Sno-King Chorale,  the Seattle Opera Chorus, and many musical comedies. My first barbershop experience was in a production of “The Music Man” in 1971.  That quartet stayed together for a couple years until our bass moved away.  A few years later a former barbershopper where I worked (Pacific Northwest Bell) formed a quartet from the company choir called the What Four.  We performed at a lot of company and community events through the late 70s and early 80s.  And I still had not joined SPEBSQSA.

My wife and I were both managers at the telephone company and we took three-year rotational assignments in New Jersey at the beginning of 1982, just as the breakup of the Bell System was announced.  It got around back there that I had done some barbershopping, so I was solicited by two different chapters and joined the Society in 1983. When I returned to Seattle at the beginning of 1985, the guy who had formed the What Four Quartet at the telephone company told me that there was a new chapter in Bellevue that I should check out.  I walked into my first Northwest Sound rehearsal that summer and have been a member of the chapter ever since.

I had been a quartet tenor, but NWS had enough of them, so I switched to lead and was active with NWS for its first dozen years, through six internationals/district championships and two trips to Europe.  After more than five years without a quartet, in 1988 I joined a quartet called Unclaimed Treasure (the bari was Barry Knott), and then, in 1991, a quartet called Premium Blend. In 1993 at the Barbershop Internationals in Calgary, a group of four NWS members were drinking wine and singing tags in a hotel room.  The wives in attendance were so impressed (possibly due to the wine) that they told us we needed to form a quartet which was eventually called Pieces of Eight.  With me singing lead, that quartet sang together for over 21 years, finally hanging it up in early 2015.  I hadn’t sung with NWS since 1997, but when Classic Sound formed in 2017, I was interested in the concept of singing in a smaller and more “portable” mini-chorus and joined up.  The pandemic put an end to CS, but as part of the experience four of us Classic Sound guys formed a quartet called Vocal Vintage, which is still singing.  And, of course, NW Mix came along and brought a new kind of chorus experience that I have very much enjoyed.  That’s where I am on the journey, for now . . .