A Wellington barbershop quartet has won a major competition in the United States, the home of the art form.
The Musical Island Boys – Matthew Gifford, Jeff and Will Hunkin and Marcellus Washburn – won first place in the 76th Annual International Barbershop Singing Convention in Las Vegas over the weekend.
Shona Murray, who was head of the music department at Tawa College when the boys first got together, was part of a party watching the competition live via a web-cast at the college.
For the finals, her former pupils sang Now Is The Hour and Hakuna Matata.
Watch the guys in action in a competitions last year
The convention was the ”absolute biggest” competition in barbershop circles, with up to 17,000 people watching in a large arena, she said.
”America is the home of barbershop.”
The Musical Island Boys were only the second team from outside the United States to win the big prize.
Gifford’s sister, Leah Gifford, was also at the web cast party watching as the boys took the top slot.
”It was pretty exciting and also very intense.”
She briefly talked to her brother after the win. After last night’s win they were taken around various ”after glow” parties in Las Vegas.
”They got home in the late hours of the morning.”
They were particularly thankful for all the support they had got from the Tawa, Porirua, and local Pacific Island community, she said.
Since getting together at Tawa College in 2002, the acapella quartet has made their presence felt on the international stage.
In 2006 they were the first quartet outside the United States to win the International Collegiate Championships.
In 2010 they were fourth in the open division of the international championships, a feat never achieved by any quartet from outside Europe or the US.
In 2011 they came second in the International Open Barbershop Championships in Missouri.
In Toronto, Canada, they last year became International Barbershop Quartet silver medallists.
– The Dominion Post