Women's barbershop quartet to perform at Island Park Library


The Island Park Library is abuzz with anticipation as they prepare to host a performance by the talented women’s barbershop quartet, Sympatico. Scheduled for May 11 at 2 p.m., the event promises an afternoon filled with harmonious melodies.

Sympatico, comprised of Christine Surh of Levittown, Carol Buchanan of Long Beach, Maryann O’Keefe of East Meadow, and Asuka Ichikawa from Queens, first came together as members of the Twin County Chorus a women’s chorus of about fifty women based in Syosset.

Their group name was coined spontaneously during a brainstorming session when the women realized they truly were “sympatico” as a quartet. Simpatico, derives from the Greek noun sympatheia, meaning “sympathy,”. Their journey began in Nov. 2019, and despite the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic, their dedication to music remained unwavering.

“We took advantage of what technology there was,” Surh said. “There was an app called “acapella” which allowed for us to each sing our own part against each other using the app so we could put some songs together and work together even though we were socially distant for a while. “I sing with a different chorus now and so does Asuka but we stayed together as a quartet.”

The group continued to rehearse and refine their craft and recently competed in a regional competition in Albany which sees different choruses and quartets compete every year. This year, 22 quartets competed. The annual regional competition organized by Sweet Adelines International involves choruses and quartets from various regions competing against each other to showcase their vocal skills and musicality. Quartets can compete in different categories, such as the international division and the open division.

In the international division, quartets perform two songs, both of which are judged according to specific criteria. In the open division, quartets have more flexibility in their performance, typically presenting a themed package of songs within a 10-minute timeframe. Competitors are evaluated by a panel of judges who assess various aspects of their performance.

Sympatico competed in the open division, where they won the audience choice award for their innovative and entertaining performance. Each member of the group brings a unique flair to the group. Surh is the spokesperson and a driving force behind their success. Buchanan’s storytelling prowess adds depth to their performances, while O’Keefe’s talent for writing parody lyrics infuses their shows with humor and creativity. Ichikawa, the musical genius of the group, ensures that every note resonates.

“I think we’re really fortunate that we get along great and we each have strengths that we bring to the table,” Surh said. “I think the open division was a really great fit for us because it gave us a chance to be really creative and use songs that are acapella and have the four parts that we know from singing barbershop, but are a little bit outside of the barbershop style so we could sing some different kinds of music,” Surh said.

Despite their diverse backgrounds—ranging from retired to working professionals—Sympatico shares a common passion for music and performance. Their upcoming performance at the Island Park Library is a testament to their commitment to engaging with the local community.

“We always look for opportunities to sing in the community and just to be out there,” Surh said.

Catch Sympatico’s enchanting performance at the Island Park Library and experience the magic of their harmonious melodies. You can find the group on Facebook as “Sympatico” and on Instagram as “sympatico_quartet.”