Harbor Sounds Chorus

Harbor Sounds Chorus, located in Auburn, MI, is a non-profit a cappella choir open to singers of all genders, ethnicities, ages, and musical backgrounds. Founded on Sept. 29, 1940, this choir serves as the Saginaw-Bay Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) and frequently sings throughout Michigan's Tri-Cities area with performances in Midland, Bay City, Saginaw, Auburn, and Freeland. We enjoy collaborating with the Sweet Adelines and other local choirs near us! A normal music calendar for this choir includes a competition in the fall, an annual show, and several community performances in the Great Bay Lakes Region (including singing the national anthem at Dow Diamond)! We currently rehearse from 7 pm - 9 pm every Wednesday at Bay City Western High School, 500 W Midland Rd. Auburn, MI 48611.


Until 2018, BHS was an exclusively all-male organization and Harbor Sounds was limited to male members. In June 2018, BHS opened its doors to members of all genders through the Everyone In Harmony campaign and Harbor Sounds responded. We are proud to say that all genders are now welcome to join and sing with us! We currently sing TTBB music, but plan to  transition to SATB as our membership allows. The current vocal ranges for our parts are shown below. 

Barbershop Harmony

Barbershop harmony is a distinctive style of a cappella singing characterized by close four-part harmonies, rich chords, and a unique vocal blend. It emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States and has since become a popular and recognizable form of vocal music. The style is often associated with nostalgic American themes and is performed by both male and female vocal ensembles.

Key characteristics of barbershop harmony include:

1. Four-Part Harmony: Barbershop harmony is typically sung in four vocal parts: tenor, lead, baritone, and bass. Each part has a specific role in creating the harmonies and chords that define the style.

2. Close Harmony: Barbershop harmony is known for its close intervals between the vocal parts, often resulting in chords that are closely stacked and resonate together.

3. Ringing Chords: Achieving "ringing" or "lock and ring" is a central goal in barbershop singing. This term refers to the quality of chords where overtones naturally reinforce each other, creating a vibrant and resonant sound.

4. A Cappella: Barbershop harmony is typically performed without instrumental accompaniment. This puts the focus on the voices and the intricate harmonies.

5. Expressive Singing: The style often emphasizes emotional expression through dynamic changes, nuanced phrasing, and careful attention to the lyrics.

6. Tag Singing: Barbershop singers often enjoy singing "tags," short sections of a song that highlight the harmonies and showcase the style's signature chord progressions.

7. Barbershop Organizations: There are international and national organizations dedicated to promoting and preserving barbershop harmony, such as the Barbershop Harmony Society (formerly SPEBSQSA) for male singers and Sweet Adelines International for female singers.

Barbershop harmony has a unique charm that has captivated audiences for generations. It is celebrated through performances, competitions, and events, and its timeless sound continues to be embraced by people who appreciate its intricate harmonies and nostalgic feel.

Meet Our Director

Zach Rolfs is a lifelong musician and has been our director since July, 2023. He grew up in St. Paul, MN, where he started playing piano at age 5 and cello at age 9. After his experiences in MN All-State Choir, he's been addicted to vocal music. Zach took private voice lessons for several years under Karen Wilkerson and James Mckeel and studied music and chemistry at St. Olaf College. 

Zach has been singing barbershop for over a decade, most notably in:

Zach holds a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and moved to Midland, MI to work at Dow. When not directing our chorus or singing in a quartet, he enjoys spending time with his wife Hannah and daughter Claire.


Harbor Sounds has a history of musical excellence. Above is a picture of us winning the Pioneer District Plateau in Lansing, MI back in 2003.

In 2004, Bay City recognized our efforts and established a Barbershop and Community Harmony Week!