More Male Singers Wanted for Beyond Harmony

Kayla Binner, Reporter

The acapella group Beyond Harmony has not only seamlessly adapted to its male members, it is thriving with them and searching to expand the number of male singers.

Isaac Glidewell, Ty’Shawn Hopkins, and Chris San are the first three male members in the history of the group. Emilee Bixler, the director, introduced the men in the 2018 Fall Semester.

Bixler, junior medical imaging major, said she wants to attract more male members, and she is putting effort into advertising.

She said she promotes Beyond Harmony at every available opportunity. Bixler enters the group in events both on and off campus and makes social media posts about when the group is singing. She wants a significant amount of exposure so that more people have the chance to see the men perform.

Bixler will  advertise the group during  orientation sessions for new students and at club fairs to spread the word to more potential male members.

Bixler said when she first opened the group to men, she was worried about not having enough. She did not want the new members to feel outnumbered, alienated or overwhelmed by the women.

“I was worried that, if we didn’t have enough [guys], they would feel shy about doing it because there are only a couple guys,” Bixler said.

She said she was hoping for at least three or four men, which would be enough to fill the bass voice parts, and she is glad to now have enough. She will never turn down men who are willing to join, though.

“Less is more is not applicable to this. More is more,” Bixler said.

Bixler said she made the right decision in opening the formally all-female group to males last year, as having the new members has improved  the group’s performances.

“We have a lot more freedom in what songs we can pick now because I don’t have to worry about range being too high or too low for the girls because now the boys can take care of that.”

Bixler said she was able to introduce songs like “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5 and “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel. Bixler said the songs would not sound bad if only girls were singing them, but the group achieves better quality when they have the men’s deep, energetic bass, which can hit the needed range.

Bixler especially appreciated integrating the men into the group when Beyond Harmony sang Christmas carols at the Luzerne County Courthouse Christmas tree lighting last season.

Bixler rewrote the song “O Holy Night” from last year to include male voices, and she said the effect was tremendous.

“It was so nice. Hearing the notes an octave lower smacked me in the face. I could’ve cried.”

She said that as a result of the expansive rotunda of the courthouse building, the low male voices reverberated throughout the space, as women’s voices cannot.

Isaac Glidewell, freshman mass communications and design major, said he discovered the group at an open house event for those who were automatically accepted to Misericordia. He originally did not know there were no men in the group

“It was a little bit shocking to know that it was the first time male members were allowed,” Glidewell said.

He said it did not deter him from trying out, however, as it seemed like it would be a fun thing for him to do.

The subsequent integration of the male and female members demonstrated that he made the right choice about joining the group despite his original reaction.

“In terms of integrating, we’re all really close friends. It’s not like the boys stick together and the girls stick together. We all interact with each other,” Bixler said.

She said the addition of the new male members affects the dynamic of the practices.

“The boys we have add a lot of energy to the group.”

Bixler said the practices take a little longer than before due to the extra voice part, but that it is worth it.

“Not to toot my own horn, but it sounds so good,” Bixler said.

Chelsea Korbich, sophomore speech language pathology major, also said the male members have added a new dynamic to the group.

“They’re fun to have. [Also], it’s nice to have lower parts, adds more range,” Korbich said.

One instance when Korbich was glad to have men in the group was at Christmastime last year.

“Chris [San] missed one practice and came in and knew his entire part. It’s nice to have someone that dedicated,” she said.

Bixler said she is grateful to have been the one to introduce men to Beyond Harmony. She said she and the previous director had talked about it in years past, but the director did not know how to get the word out.

Bixler said she and two other members, Sarah Taylor and Jenn Klobe, brainstormed on ways to spread the word early enough for people to join.

“It wasn’t that there was no interest; nobody had a way to hear about it,” Bixler said.

Bixler said she and the other two women decided to email Darcy Brokmerkel, Director of Student Activities, and figure out how to introduce the group at freshmen orientation. Brodmerkel said that even if the incoming students did not want to join at first, they would know about it and be introduced to the possibility.

“I think it was a really good idea. I definitely wouldn’t have thought about it by myself,” Bixler said.