Our History

This history is being updated regularly, please keep coming back.

We would like to hear from members and past members about any information and / or pictures they may have to improve or add to this history.

Please contact the Administration with details.
Anglicare Retirement Villages continue to ask us back each year and we are grateful to them for the assistance it gives our fund raising for our hobby and our charity. Other singouts help our fund raising and consist of private and commercial events. We prefer to entertain at events where the audience can really pay attention and listen to our harmony rather than be background music. Fortunately we now choose our singouts carefully.

Also continuing each year are our Quartet Workshops and Annual Handicapped Quartet Competition and both continue to be extremely popular.

During 2003 Brian Johnson our Music Director and our Assistant Music Directors Reg Hill and John Unsworth attended NZ workshops held by Dr Greg Lyne - Music Director of the great 'Masters of Harmony'. This was a great help to the chorus as many techniques from that workshop were adopted.

Voice coaching by Margi de Ferranti, and Jane Hennessy started in 2003 and continue to present but now by Chloe Charody with assistance from Eleanor Lyons.

We have had some outside help over the years with Choreography but currently it is developed by an inhouse team run by our member Tony Brown. Some years we've been fortunate to have US educators in the Barbershop craft and in 2003 Bob Brock made a visit.

To assist learning we purchased a second hand 4-track recorder, mikes etc, OHP and screen.
Col Goddard manufactured the necessary gantry to hold all mikes and his expertise in recording has proved extremely useful.

We attend the Associations Biennial Convention which are always great meetings of Australian and visiting barbershoppers.
2002 saw us doing many quite different singouts such as Bridge climb singout, Beethoven Society G&S, Sydney Town Hall with Tommy Ticho, Royal Easter Show, Sing for the Danielle Wymark appeal, and in the photo below, Hornsby Hospital.
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We held and attended several workshops this year for chorus blending and tuning, then the Eastern Region of our Australian Association's workshop at Amaroo. Education in barbershop technique was enhanced with the visit of Don Kahl for USA.

Our concert this year was the most successful so far in terms of funds raised and we able in December to give a large donation of $13,000. In the past our donations have ranged between $3,000 and $7,000.

This year we extended our costumes and introduced a black shirt with a long tie from our 'multi-coloured' material we use for the main costume.

This year Colin Goddard was the winner of Tom McManus Trophy.

1997 Brian Johnson was requested to take on the position of Acting Music Director whilst we looked for a replacement for Ian Millar. This year the Convention, held at Darling Harbour, was a great success, and firmly established Barbershop singing as a major form of musical expression in Sydney. The American Quartet that came over to act as Judges and educators was called FRED and added all the expertise and excite that we expected plus their own brand of humour.
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Above we have most of the guys that performed at this years convention. In Oct 1997 Dick Costin felt that a chorus in Parramatta NSW could be a viable group, and together with John Unsworth, and Brian Johnson (as Music Director) they started Harmony Express Men's Barbershop Chorus. Brian Johnson continued to be Music Director for both choruses - some feat.

1998 Brian Johnson was confirmed as Music Director of Sydneysiders Men's Barbershop Chorus and Ron Quarmby Assistant Music Director. Harmony Express grew quickly to about 25 men and in 1999 won the best small chorus award.
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During 2000 three choruses held discussions towards amalgamating and Harmony Express and SydneySiders had common issues, which they both felt could be resolved with such an amalgamation.

Later that year the amalgamation took place and a midway location was chosen for rehearsal - Eastwood. The new name chosen from both original chorus names became SydneySiders Express.

That year we held a successful biennial concert at Abbotsleigh with the assistance of The Circular Keys Sweet Adelines (ladies barbershop) chorus. Again we had many sing outs, which included QVB, Garrison retirement Village, St Ives Shopping Centre, QVB, Wahroonga Fair. McDonalds Challenge etc.

2001 was another busy year with singouts including QVB, Normanhurst Uniting Church, Ryde Eastwood Leagues, Wisteria Festival,

In memory of a great SydneySiders member, the Late Tom McManus, a perpetual trophy was created, to be awarded annually to a member of the chorus who has shown:

1 Extraordinary improvement in singing performance,
2 Outstanding commitment to the chorus in a broad range of activities
3 Inspiration and encouragement to other members

We were pleased that the first award went to Peter Dustin.

For the first time since conventions started in Australia in 1991, we had to withdraw from the Melbourne Convention this year due to chorus imbalance. This was a very difficult decision as for most of us the convention is a big highlight. Many members still went to give support to other barbershoppers and to enjoy the get together and great camaraderie that exists in this great hobby.

Dave Rumsey outlined a new award for the Most Improved Quartet to be given next year (2002).

1988 (late) two things occurred. Doris Ward of The Sweet Adelines [women's barbershop association], whilst in Brisbane October 1988 for the Queensland Men's Tennis Championships where Max Ward was one of the Umpires, went to a rehearsal of "The Banana Blenders", and was impressed with the sound that she heard.

Some time before or about the time of Doris's Brisbane experience, a group of Wahroonga men at a District Rotary conference took part in a barbershop quartet competition. They won even though in their ignorance they sang to accompaniment. Ian Miller was the judge, and 2 of the group were Rob Fergusson and Phil Dean (who was the piano player.).

On arriving back in Sydney, Doris made enquiries from SPEBSQSA in Kenosha as to how a chorus could be started in Sydney. David Russell, a member of Bathurst Men's Barbershop Chorus, later contacted Doris in reference to her enquiry, after which advertising was instigated to test the interest.

Having enquiries from several people (nine in all - and the guys Wahroonga Rotary), our first meeting was held on March 20 1989, at Doris & Max Ward's house in Carlingford. The Northern District Times was contacted, and an article attracted more interested singers.
The name chosen was the "SydneySiders Men's Barbershop Chorus".

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Rehearsals continued at which Doris acted as Musical Director for about six (6) months when an American working in Australia, Dale Jergensen from the Chicago Chapter, came along and was convinced to take over this role. Practices moved to Wahroonga at the home of Phil Dean. . 1990 March 29 Our first Annual General Meeting of the Chorus where Phil Dean was elected President, and Dale Jergensen confirmed as Musical Director. At this time the annual subscriptions were $20.00 of which $7.50 was forwarded to AAMBS.

Here is a photo of the first official sing-out under the direction of Dale Jergensen.

The first chorus to be formed in NSW was at Bathurst 3 or 4 years before the Sydneysiders. Their base was the Music Department at the university campus at Bathurst. About the same year as the Sydneysiders were formed other groups began in the Blue Mountains, Penrith and Gosford.

As the old hands, and most experienced group in the region, Bathurst hosted the first workshop in what became the Eastern Region. This first weekend workshop was conducted at Karingal Conference Centre, Mt Panorama, Bathurst on May 5-6 1990, the educator for this workshop was Linc Abbott. A very worthwhile and informative weekend enjoyed by all.

During the year we held our first concert mainly entertaining our kith and kin. Sometime during 1990 we had a visit from Bruce Okley who had started the Perth Chorus some years earlier and was by then regarded as one of the maestros in Australian barbershop. We rang many chords under Bruce's coaching. It was also during 1990 that the Central Coast chorus invited us to participate in their first concert. They had invited Link Abbott down from the Gold Coast to MC it and conduct a grand chorus including us.

Dale Jergensen was to return to the United States and at an Extra Ordinary General Meeting on December 12 1990; Ian Miller accepted the position of Musical Director.

Here we are at a retirement village singout with Ian Miller as Musical Director.

1991 was an historic year in barbershopping in Australia as it marked the first Australian Barbershop Convention, which was held at the Gold Coast. The SydneySiders quickly decided they were going to participate and Ian set to work to get us up to speed on a couple of songs - 'There'll Always be an Ireland' was definitely one of them, and the other was 'Paddlin 'Madeline Home' the first song for which we developed choreography as we canoed our way down the river with Madeline The judging quartet was The Ritz who had won the International Championship in 1990 and after the convention The Ritz toured Australia coaching choruses. They made many friends whilst in Australia.

From 1991 our Annual Concerts became more formal affairs held at increasingly larger venues with the intention of attracting an increasingly larger audience and thereby hopefully attracting more members to our group. Some of the venues were Knox Grammar School Hall - possibly twice - and the Mosman Town Hall, before starting our long association with Abbotsleigh, although initially we used the smaller concert chamber there, not the big hall we use now.

Early each year we have a new members night and we're always looking for new members. A quartet photo like the one below appeared in local newspapers to generate some interest. This photo features from left to right, James Meares (Lead), Col Goddard (Baritone), Steve Rorke (Bass), and Barry Lovegrove (Tenor).

Mid 1992 President Bruce Magnussan wrote about the many singouts which included two Eisteddfods one at Sydney Town Hall and one at Willoughby Town Hall, Queen Victoria Building, Opening of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, Warringah Mall, Sydney Jazz Festival, Darling Harbour, Lane Cover River Park, and Concert Time at Mosman Town Hall. Then we did 7 more singouts in December wow what a year! 

Back Row: W Butterfield, F Kirby-Brown, W Taylor, M Ward, E Riddle, E Phillips, J White
Second Row: B Magnusson, D Enoch, M Stevens, M Suthers, I Miller, G Dunn, C Felthan, T Phillips, R Smith
Front Row: T Tinworth, J Rabe, G Blundell, R Furguson, W Collins, P Dean, S Taylor, J Harrison

1993 was again the biennial convention year and occurred in Perth, the origin of the Australian Association of Men's Barbershop Singers (AAMBS) plus singouts were plentiful and memorable. 1993 was the year we got our famous multi-coloured uniform affectionately known as 'dog's breakfast!' This year we where privaleged to attend the Harmony Club of Canberra's weekend workshop attended by a great American Barbershopper, educator, and arranger extraodinaire Tom Gentry. What he doesn't know about barbershopping isn't worth knowing. Tom also came to our chorus practise which was a great inspiration.
1994 - we have no available history for 1994 so if any member or past member has old News Clippings, or good memory, we would be grateful to received them.
1995 - the SydneySiders were a well established group who had been singing for many years. The September concert went exceptionally well and we were able to give a sizable donation to Westmead Childrens' Hospital, Oncology Unit. Every Barbershop Chorus or Chapter chooses a charity it supports and we have been supporting the Oncology Unit for several years.

Although we were again disappointed we didn't do better at the Annual Convention held that year in Canberra, we were singing the best we had ever sung, and considered ourselves much improved.

Above is our Convention photo dressed in our famous multi-coloured gear with our MD Ian Miller, and below we're in one of our concert outfits.

1996 was a big year in other ways for the SydneySiders because at the 1995 Convention our invitation to host the 1997 Convention had been accepted. 1996 was the year in which most of the planning took place. George and Mary Walker acted as the secretariat for the Convention, with Mary doing most of the work.

Also during 1996 Rob Strickland and Rob Dyer left to start a new chorus in Annandale, called Harbour City Harmony

The President's Report comments on the big changes, which took place such as the extremely successful recruitment drive led by VP Membership Ross Smith where the chorus grew to it's largest size of about 70 members however at the end of the year several of the longer serving members left for various reasons.

Different philosophies were being formed and eventually resulted in a split occurring early in 1997, when a group led by Ian Miller and Doug Moran formed a much more competitive driven chorus called Broadway, now called Sydney Harmony after merging with Harbour City Harmony.

SydneySiders, the chorus is very grateful, and owes much, to Ian Miller as Music Director in their development of barbershop singing from Dec 1990 after Dale Jergensen returned to US, to 1996 when he left to form Broadway.