Shape Note Singing – 2016

Peter Ross, Gary Breitbard and Terry Moore

Shape note singing (also known as sacred harp singing) dates back to thePeter Ross, Gary Breitbard, Terry Moore early days of our nation. Words were taken from biblical sources and 18th century English hymn writers; the melodies and arrangements were created by itinerant singing masters in the northeast who taught them to the enthusiastic but musically illiterate congregations. The music is sung a cappella in 4 voices seated around a “hollow square” with each voice contributing to the overall sound. Singers and non-singers alike are welcome to join in and be carried in the wave of this primitive and powerful music.

Peter Ross originally got hooked on shape note singing when he attended workshops in the 1990s at the San Francisco Free Folk Festival, due partly to the gorgeous harmonies and the inspiring music. He now sings regularly with both the Palo Alto and San Francisco shape note singing groups, and occasionally with the Santa Cruz and Berkeley groups.Also, before traveling, he checks the www.fasola.org website, and has found groups with which to sing in Denver, CO, Madison, WI, Knoxville, TN, Portland, OR, Los Alamos, NM, and Burlington, VT.

Gary Breitbard is one of the founding members of the Palo Alto Sacred Harp group in the 1970s. He has been leading Shape Note singing since the early Free Folk Festivals at Fort Mason.

Terry Moore has sung Sacred Harp music since the turn of the century, having seen a notice in the Folknik. He has co-led workshops for several years in Ben Lomond and regularly participates in the Palo Alto area singings. He also enjoys singing barbershop, gospel, madrigal, and jazz a cappella harmonies.