An early history in brief

The Barbershop Harmony Club of Canberra Inc. (BHCC) was started in October 1987 by a group of enthusiasts - men and women - who wanted to sing songs in the "old style" in 4-part harmony.

Because of our deep cultural links with a local hostelry (we got free Guinness), our chorus was originally called The George Harcourt Harmonaires, and we happily sang free for charities, and (when we could) for a fee. It was a lot of fun, and with the mixed chorus we solved the problem of the shortage of male (top) Tenors, and female Basses. Our mixed chorus did raise a few eyebrows amongst the purist single-sex Barbershop choruses in Australia at the time...

In 1990 the Australian Association of Men Barbershop Singers Inc (AAMBS) announced that the first National Australian convention for men would be held on the Gold Coast the following year. This led us, early in 1991, to decide to split into two single-sex choruses.

The women formed Brindabella Chorus, which is now fully chartered with Sweet Adelines, and the men continued under the BHCC name, forming the Canberra Chordsmen, which is now our main performing chorus. Incidentally, we came fourth nationally at the Gold Coast Convention, a club record we're still trying to better...

Directed by Bec Mutton, we competed as The Hume Highwaymen in combination with the Bidgeemen from Wagga, at the 2009 AAMBS Barbershop Convention in Hobart. Despite having only four rehearsals, the Hume Highwaymen placed as the 4th best small barbershop chorus in Australia.

The Hume Highwaymen and the Brindabella Chorus featured on an episode of the ABC ACT Stateline program on Friday July 17 2009. To view the transcript follow this link

Other early club achievements:

  • 2003 Australian National Eisteddfod

  • Open Choral Group (4-8 voices)-Chord In The ACT (Quartet)- 1st place

  • Open Choirs - Male - 1st place

  • City of Canberra Open Choral Championship - Highly commended

  • 2002 Australian National Eisteddfod

  • Open Choral Group (4-8 voices) - The RipChords (Quartet) - 2nd place

  • Open Choirs - Male - 2nd place

  • City of Canberra Open Choral Championship - 3rd place

  • 2001 Australian National Eisteddfod 1st place Open Choirs - Male

  • 2001 The RipChords quartet qualify for Melbourne convention 2001

  • 2000 Australian National Eisteddfod Open Choral Champions

  • 2000 Australian National Eisteddfod Sacred Choral 3rd place 
  • 1999 AAMBS 5th National Convention 3rd place in Small Choruses


Recent history

In recent years, the Canberra Chordsmen have been very ably led by Dan Bennett, a young and very talented musician who originally joined the Chorus as a regular member when he fell in love with Barbershop.  Dan leads our practices every Tuesday night at the Taylor Public School teaching great Barbershop technique, tags and rounds and building an impressive repertoire. 

Covid knocked us about, as it did with so many choruses, but we survived with Zoom and in fact, we thrived.  We competed at the Southeast Regional Championships in May 2022 and sent a chorus of 13 singers to the National Convention in November 2022 in Hobart. In September 2022 the Chordsmen put on a hugely successful concert called ‘At the Movies’ to celebrate our 30th year.  This had been postponed by over 12 months due to Covid.  It was so good to be performing again and putting on concerts for our audiences. You may also have heard us perform around Civic during the weeks leading to Christmas.  

Recently we have established an association with our sister chorus, the Canberra Harmony (also members of Barbershop Harmony Australia). BHA recently changed its constitution to be fully inclusive of mixed and female Barbershop chorus’ and ensembles.

We look forward to a terrific 2023.