” A cappella is unlike any other type of musical performance. If you don’t produce a sound correctly, the music doesn’t happen. I love the challenge that a cappella presents to better my own singing, and to figure out how to blend effectively with my fellow barbershoppers.“— Brian Avner (Brian joined Sound of the Rockies when he was just 13 and is our youngest member. )
Name and singing position: Brian Avner, lead
Joined SOR: 2015
Q. Where are you from?
A. Highlands Ranch, although I was born in Syracuse, NY.
Q. What do you do?
A. I just graduated from high school and am heading to the University of California – Berkeley to pursue an engineering degree. I also have a part-time job scooping ice cream at my local Cold Stone.
Q. How long have you been singing?
A. I’ve been singing since I was a little kid. I learned to read music through my eight years of piano lessons, starting when I was 5. I would sing along to songs like “Music of the Night” while playing the piano, which is how I discovered my love of singing. Aside from a handful of voice lessons, I’ve never had any formal training.
Q. How did you come to a cappella?
A. When I was in seventh grade, I started watching the TV show “Glee.” Then, I saw the movie Pitch Perfect and decided I wanted to sing a cappella. I began searching YouTube for a cappella and stumbled upon barbershop and, by chance, Sound of the Rockies. I pestered my parents to take me to a rehearsal, and after a while, my parents skeptically agreed. The guys took me right up onto the risers and the rest is history.
Q. Why do you enjoy being part of an a cappella ensemble?
A. A cappella is unlike any other type of musical performance. If you don’t produce a sound correctly, the music doesn’t happen. I love the challenge that a cappella presents to better my own singing, and to figure out how to blend effectively with my fellow barbershoppers.
Q. How is being part of this kind of chorus different from any other experience?
A. Singing with a barbershop chorus like Sound of the Rockies is unlike singing with any other a cappella ensemble. For one, in my opinion, barbershop music sounds far better than most a cappella. Barbershop is precise, scientific, and clever from an arrangement standpoint. The barbershop community is beyond anything I could have imagined. The chorus members truly feel like family, and the worldwide barbershop community is so passionate and supportive, it makes attending the International Barbershop Convention an unforgettable experience. I mean, at what other convention do people stand around with strangers singing tags?
Q. What have been some of the highlights of your experience with Sound of the Rockies? One of my favorite memories from my time as a barbershopper was competing in the 2016 Midwinter Convention in Reno with SOR’s youth chorus 52eighty. It was simply amazing to spend an entire week with other excited young barbershoppers. Of course, when I attended my first Barbershop International Convention later that year in Nashville, my mind was blown by the scale of the whole event, and by the skill of the quartets. I also look back fondly at fun times I’ve had with SOR, like climbing out of TJ’s custom couch during our Christmas show a few years back.
Q. What are your hobbies when you are not singing?
A. When I’m not singing, I work on my engineering projects, dance with my hip-hop crew and run my school’s technology club. Some of my past engineering projects have included underwater robots, an animatronic duck and a smart rocket. I also create my own board games (right down to 3D designing and printing the pieces).
Q. What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
A. While my interests are mostly in the sciences, recently a short film I wrote and directed won a film festival. The film was loosely based on my cousin’s coming out story. It was the only film I’ve ever made, or intend to make, so I find it kind of funny that it did so well.