Eau Claire Chorus Director: Greg Barnes

Greg Barnes, musical director, comes to the Eau Claire Chapter from Denton, TX, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas. This is his debut as a barbershop chorus director, and he freely admits he has a lot to learn.

Greg attended public schools in Richardson and Plano, TX. Somewhere around In 10th grade, he sang his first barbershop piece for a solo/ensemble contest in the Plano area. The song was "Wild Irish Rose"; the ensemble got the top rating. Although he knew nothing about barbershop music, he fell in love with the way the harmonies "feel" when sung correctly. But it wasn't until college that Greg began to get involved.

During his freshman year, Greg joined the Plano Men of Note as a lead (at the time, he wasn't confident enough to read the other parts). He had a great time, but the hour-long trip to rehearsal made it difficult to attend. He left the chorus in a year, figuring that he'd never finish his degree if he didn't do his homework. As it turned out, it still took him seven years.

Around that time, he switched his major from Computer Science to Music Education. He had always sung throughout his schooling, and despite the knowledge that teachers are not well paid, he couldn't stay away from music. He focused on choral and vocal music, and wound up singing in every choral ensemble available on campus (with the understandable exception of Women's Chorus). During the summer of '91, Greg got together with a fellow singer in the chorus, Sam Eggleston. Sam mentioned starting up a Men's Ensemble, which would perform (among other things) barbershop selections. Greg joined up immediately, and stayed with the group for two years.

If you know barbershop choruses, you're probably saying, "Why didn't he join the Vocal Majority?! They're right there in Dallas!! Is he crazy?" Well, crazy or not, Greg had to pass on the VM due to school and work conflicts--the VM rehearses Thursday nights, as did Greg's church choir (for which he was paid to be there). Simple economics dictated that Greg would kick himself later for not having sung under Jim Clancy's direction.

Finally, Greg graduated from UNT, and promptly moved away from Texas to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He got very tired of the heat, crime, and educational status quo in Texas. He and his wife, Anne, decided that Wisconsin, despite the cold during winter, was a much better place to live, and they moved up in the summer of '96. He got a part-time teaching assignment with the Eau Claire Area School District, teaching middle school choir and general music. He is now teaching in August, WI.

Greg discovered the Eau Claire chapter and the Diplomats of Harmony Chorus because of a phone call from Joe Liles. Around November 1996, Greg called Harmony Hall to check on a song he had submitted to the Society. The song was rejected, but Joe called up John "Doc" Hoggatt in Eau Claire and told him to get Greg in the chorus. "Doc" invited Greg to attend the upcoming Guest Night, and once again, Greg was hooked.

Things turned out a little differently this time--within two months, Greg was directing the chorus. The former director, Bob Lamont, had been looking for someone to replace him. The two had already met during one of Bob's substitute teaching assignments in the Eau Claire district, and Bob was fully aware that Greg had a background in choral music education. With blinding speed, the Board approved Greg as the next musical director.

Although he is very new to directing barbershoppers, Greg is thrilled to be in front of such a warm, responsive group. He already feels comfortable in Eau Claire, and looks forward to many arm-waving sessions in front of the Diplomats.

Greg can be reached via email at gbarnes2@yahoo.com.

[Back to Eau Claire chapter]
(You are visitor number since 5/28/98.)
This page is maintained by Tom Arneberg (toma@mcs.com)
(Last modified: $Date: 1998/05/28 18:55:31 $)