history

nsac

The history of the current chorus dates back to 1982 when a Wellesley, MA Chapter was founded by Leo Larivee and Joe Mason. In October 1984, the Sound Assembly Chorus (SAC) was finally chartered (as Wellesley, MA) by SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc., the legal and historical name for today's Barbershop Harmony Society). The chapter’s name was proposed by charter member John MacDonald (bass) and the unique custom designed chorus logo, which is still in use today, was created by charter member Stewart Klein (bass & graphic artist!). It is also noteworthy that the original request of SAC to be chartered in Natick, MA was rejected as being too close to the existing Gateway Guardsmen chapter in Framingham, MA.

Under the leadership of Founder and Musical Director, Leo Larivee (1982-1996), SAC quickly reached prominence in the Northeastern District (NED) and in the Society through its singing ability, its service to the community, and its involvement with the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers. The chapter's slogan “Quality Barbershop Music In Performance” kept them focused on good singing with a strong desire to perform for the public as well as in the barbershop arena. Chorus meetings were held for years at the old Wonder Bakery. It was located next to what is now the Natick Collection.

nsacSAC's first Barbershop performance was in Worcester, MA as mike testers for the NED Chorus Contest. In their first NED contest (1986), SAC placed 6th overall (with only 26 men on stage) and won the stage presence category. SAC later won the Patriot Division Chorus Championship and a third place medal in NED Competition. In 1986 in Montréal (and again in 1988 in Albany) they performed an original parody package of King Tut’s Egypt as “The Sheiks of Larivee” and drew standing ovations on both occasions. Taking their originality one step further, the chorus also sent “Yummy Mummy” cereal, actual Arab newspapers and Egyptian money for the judges' breakfast!

In their first 10 years as a chapter, SAC sang more than 500 times including performances in six different countries (Canada, USA, Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales).

A chance meeting in 1988 led the chorus to Ireland where they helped the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers (IABS) organize their first convention. SAC sang at the first and third IABS Conventions in Ireland (1989 and 1991). In August 1989, in addition to singing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Birr Castle, SAC performed for the Lord Mayor of Dublin at Mansion House in Dublin and for the Mayor of Limerick at the Granary in Limerick City. In October 1991, SAC performed for the Prime Minister of Ireland and were guest musicians for the “Treaty 300 Re-Enactment” Ceremony in Limerick City. At that time, SAC donated a 100-year traveling trophy called “The Wellesley Cup” which has been presented to the IABS National Men’s Quartet Champions for the past two decades.

In 1990 (and again in 1993) SAC performed as guests of Walt Disney World in Florida at the America Pavilion at EPCOT Center. Also in the Fall of 1990, the chorus was given its first opportunity to sing the National Anthem at a Patriots game, beginning a relationship with the team that continued for several years. In 1992, the Red Sox invited SAC to sing the National Anthem at Fenway. SAC was also the guest musical performers at the World Trade Center in Boston for the Johnny Most (voice of the Boston Celtics) Tribute that brought out every major sports figure in Boston history.

nsacIn 1992, the chorus toured England, Scotland, and Wales and sang at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Blenheim Palace (birthplace of Winston Churchill) and at York Minster. They also spent joint Barbershop evenings with the Bristol and Bolton Clubs of the British Association of Barbershop Singers.

In 1993, Rick Ottman (tenor), Dick Naas (bari), and John MacDonald (bass), three charter members of SAC, teamed with Phil Carter (lead) from the Concord, MA Chapter, to form the quartet Anything Goes that won the NED Quartet Championship and represented the chapter at the Society’s International Competition in St. Louis.

In 1995, SAC was invited to travel to the Vatican to sing for Pope John Paul II. Unfortunately, that travel opportunity did not come to fruition. It was at this same time that St Linus Church in Natick became the chorus' new rehearsal site (where the chapter still meets on Thursday nights).

The Assembly Line (named and edited by Leo Larivee) was the chorus' bulletin and won 8 straight NED Bulletin Editor of the Year Awards from 1988-1995. Current member Ed Dunn became a Co-Editor with Larivee in 1996 and then won again as Editor in 1998. The Assembly Line also finished 2nd Place in the International Bulletin Contest in 1990, 1993, 1995 and 1996.

In 1996, Tibby Reid, a long-time Sweet Adeline singer, director, and Framingham resident became the new director of the chorus. Two years later, the Framingham and Wellesley chapters agreed to merge to become the New Sound Assembly (NSA) Chorus of Natick, still under Tibby’s direction. At the chorus' request, the Barbershop Harmony Society revised and reissued Framingham's original 1947 charter to the new Natick chapter, thus retaining one of the oldest charters still active in the U.S. The Natick chapter debuted at the 50th anniversary of the Framingham Heart Study.

Since Tibby’s retirement, Nick Colaianni and Ralph Kerr have served as the directors of NSA and continue to lead the chorus today.

Back to top

©2010 New Sound Assembly Chorus.