Barry Clinton is really hitting the high notes – after becoming one of just five British people qualified to judge barbershop singing in America.
Sheffield Harmony Chorus musical director Barry and four colleagues from the British Association of Barbershop Singers were invited to pit their skills against more than 80 international singing judges at Missouri State University in Kansas.
The event was organised by the American Barbershop Harmony Society, which was testing the standard of its own barbershop singing judges from across America.
Barry said: “We thought we were just going to observe the American judging procedures, to learn about their latest techniques and the differences between the American and British standards to be able to report back to our own Guild of Judges.
“However, when we arrived we found out all the visiting international singing judges, including us, were going to be assessed and evaluated on the same grounds as the American judges who had to re-qualify for their role.”
Members of the 55-strong Sheffield Harmony Chorus were delighted.
Baritone singer Ruth Linden said: “It sounded really glamorous to be invited to America with lots of other singing judges.
“We imagined them all singing long into the night and generally having lots of fun.”
But Barry revealed nothing could have been further from the truth.
He said: “From the moment we arrived, even after the long flights, we worked from 8am until 10pm for five days solidly with only short breaks for lunch and an evening meal.
“We were in basic student hall accommodation and there was no time off for sightseeing or any leisure activity. And it was a ‘dry’ campus – absolutely no alcohol.
“The only treat was the ice cream. Freezers full were rolled out to make sure we all had a share.”
n The UK’s best barbershop singers will be at the Octagon Centre, the University of Sheffield, on Saturday, October 12.