Overtones Barbershop Quartet at Lunch with the Arts

Published 8:41 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Contributing writer

The Community Arts Center continues its monthly Lunch with the Arts series on Wednesday, May 15, with a performance by The Overtones Barbershop Quartet. Making their second appearance at LWTA, the ensemble’s presentation will include a brief background of the barbershop genre of singing, demonstration of unique four-part harmony construction, and a broad sampling of both early and more modern compositions utilizing the barbershop harmony style.

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Tom Hart (Lead), John Stegner (Bass), Alan Bettler (Tenor), and Lew Kelly (Baritone) bring a wealth and diversity of backgrounds to their craft with a combined 200+ years of vocal music education and experience. The 2019 edition of Overtones is the same as when they last appeared at the Community Arts Center in July of 2013. Overall, the group has been performing for over 14 years. The Overtones, while being serious musicians and ambassadors of barbershop, are also dedicated to having serious fun.  Their evolving repertoire ranges from silly to sacred, with generous apportionments of romantic, “period” and popular selections.

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A true American art form, the barbershop genre of a capella vocal harmonizing (singing without instrumental  accompaniment) originated in the late 19th century, but attained its highest popularity in the 1940s. Since then, it has maintained a steady following, nationwide and even globally, and is a continued presence in pop culture.

The Overtones first met as members of the Kentuckians Chorus. Founded in 1960, the Chorus is the Lexington, Kentucky, Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.  Its members are drawn together by singing and preserving the style of music known as barbershop.  In addition to active community involvement through annual shows and performances, they are committed to improving and promoting the craft of close four-part harmony, a cappella singing.

The Overtones have a large repertoire, including many well known barbershop standards like Lida Rose, Wait ’til the Sun Shines Nellie, and My Old Kentucky Home. The quartet has performed all over central Kentucky, at venues such as Castle Post and the Kentucky Horse Park, in bars, banks and backyards. With their philosophy of “Music is life and happiness is harmony”,  they’ll go anywhere for a song.

Thanks go to Stuart Powell Ford Lincoln Mazda and Direct Experience in Artistic Living, Inc. (DEAL) for their generous support of this program. Sign language interpretation will be provided through a grant from the Hudson Ellis Fund.

The upcoming Lunch with the Arts calendar includes the following presenters:

June 19 – 70 Years of Pioneer Playhouse; July 17 – John Bowling, model train dioramas; Aug 21 – Blue Groove Jazz


Lunch with the Arts, featuring The Overtones Barbershop Quartet noon-1 p.m. Wednesday, May 15 at the Community Arts Center. Cost is $5 at the door, $3 for students. SIgn language interpretation will be provided.