Harmonic Heartbreakers Win Novice Contest

(Photo courtesy of Lily Hernandez)

Four students from La Habra High School (coach Tom Nichols, bass Tristen Urban, baritone Justin Gabriel, tenor Joshua Salgado and lead Andrew Hernandez) entered the Southern California Comedy Quartet Contest with some trepidation.  After all, all of the other competitors were at least twice their age.  They need not have worried.  With their funny and tuneful pair of songs, they won the hearts of the audience and the judges.  The contest, sponsored by the Orange Quartet Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, is an annual event designed to give new quartets the opportunity to compete before official Society judges. 

Two of the Heartbreakers, Joshua Salgado and Andrew Hernandez had competed in the contest before, but the other members of their quartet graduated and left them looking for a bass and a bari.  When they teamed up with Urban and Gabriel, they knew they had something good.  Coach Tom Nichols of the Orange Empire Chorus met with them each week after school to help them perfect their sound and their comedy.  "I told them 'If your only goal is winning, and you lose, then you’ve got nothing,'" said Nichols.  "Make sure you have fun out there."  Apparently it was good advice.  After a nervous start, the audience responded with laughter to their antics and the quartet started to smile.  Then they not only killed with comedy, but rang some great barbershop chords.

The quartet added their name to the novice quartet traveling trophy, first awarded in 1963, and put the trophy on display in their choir classroom at La Habra High School.  It clearly took a lot of time and determination to win it. What made them so dedicated?  Said Salgado, "I love barbershop.  It touches my heart every time I sing it."