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WCSU professor to discuss barbershop singing history in Danbury

DANBURY, CONN.— Western Connecticut State University Professor of History and Non-Western Cultures Dr. Wynn Gadkar-Wilcox will host a discussion about the history of barbershop singing in Danbury at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, 2018, in Room 122 of White Hall on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury.

The Danbury Mad Hatters is a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society that was founded in 1966. The chapter grew to nearly 100 members in the 1970s. The chapter membership has counted many significant figures in the regional history of western Connecticut — including local businessmen, teachers, engineers, principals and doctors — amongst its members. Gadkar-Wilcox is a member.

The lecture will feature short performances of the barbershop quartets from the Danbury Mad Hatter Chorus. Gadkar-Wilcox will draw information and dialogue from his book, “On the Sunny Side: The Danbury Mad Hatter Chorus, 1966-2016.” He also will discuss how Danbury’s barbershop chapter reflects the history of Danbury in the late 20th century, from the experience of counterculture in the 1960s to Danbury’s increasing diversification from the 1980s onward.

“What really attracted me to this project was the age-old question of the extent to which humans are responsible for what happens in their lives, or whether we are beholden to the larger events in our society,” Gadkar-Wilcox said. “As the Danbury barbershop chapter grew to nearly 100 members in the 1970s, were they buoyed by great leadership, or the rise of a professional middle class in Western Connecticut? When they nearly collapsed in the mid-1990s, was that due to poor leadership, or because of demographic trends that were beyond their control?  Of course, the answer lies somewhere in the middle, but there is no better way of getting to those questions than by studying the history of the people and places that are immediately around you.”

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.