Written by Betsy Abraham Friday, 07 February 2014 00:00
Looking for a gift outside of the heart-shaped chocolate box? Something beyond the sappy sentimentality of a Hallmark card? The Nassau Mid-Island Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society delivers sweet romance with just a few notes.
The local chapter of the Society has been bringing couples together through its Singing Valentines program for over 20 years. This year, four tuxedo-clad barbershop quartets from the organization will go all over Nassau and Western Suffolk to sing “Heart Of My
Heart” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to love targets at workplaces, homes, schools, care facilities and other locations.
“It’s been a successful and rewarding program,” said the Nassau Mid-Island Chapter musical director Maurice Debar. “You never know who you’re going to sing for, but we always get an emotional reaction.”
The unsuspecting recipients, who include women and men of all ages, are usually pleasantly surprised. Responses range from smiles to tears. This year, the chapter expects to deliver anywhere from 30-to-50 singing valentines from Feb. 12 through 14.
Not only does the Valentine’s Day program delight lovers and their beloveds, it’s one of the group’s most highly anticipated events.
For chapter member and Bethpage resident Ed Andreassen, the program is a great way to exercise vocal harmonies while also filling hearts with a little love on Valentine’s Day.
“I’ve seen every kind of reaction across the board, from tears to laughter,” said Andreassen, a bass singer who has been a member of the society for more than 40 years. “The one reaction I haven’t seen is anger; no one’s thrown anything at us yet.”
The Nassau chapter has been around for 64 years and, with a chorus of almost 40 voices, has grown to be the largest of its kind on Long Island. The repertoire includes everything from oldies, to patriotic songs to more recent numbers — all performed a capella in a
four-part harmony. Because barbershop quartets rely on each individual voice, singing in tune is especially important.
“In barbershop, our goal is to create at least one more note, so you have five notes with just four singers,” said Debar. “It’s a phenomenon of physics, that if you put two tones together, the two tones will add up and produce a third tone. But it only works if you sing perfectly in tune.”
Jon Ayers has been a member of the chapter for five years and has sung with other chapters of the Barbershop Harmony Society for over 40 years. He lends his wide-ranging voice to both the chapter’s chorus, in which he sings bass, and one of its quartets, in which he sings tenor. Ayers says singing with the Mid-Island Chapter allows him to bond with others in a special way, as the group has to blend their voices to make them all come together harmoniously.
“I love the fellowship and the responsibility of making my voice blend,” Ayers said. “Singing in harmony gives me a real kick. I can’t imagine singing any other way.”
And the society isn’t just for experienced singers. Ayers says they spend a lot of time teaching new members how to sing better, not by criticizing but with helpful tips.
“The only requirement is that you have to like to sing. If you like to sing we can teach you the rest of it,” says Ayers. “We try to make singing tomorrow better than it was yesterday.”
But more than just singing, the society is about bringing people together. Andreassen said that while the group may not be comprised of award-winning singers, it is made up of great people. A resident of Bethpage for about 55 years, Andreassen said barbership quartet is also special because it is uniquely American.
“This is really one of the only kinds of music to originate in the U.S.,” he said, adding that he has been a singer since he was a young boy, singing in high school choruses and church choirs. “This is a wonderful club filled with great people. And we love going out there and delighting people with music. It’s one of those great joys in life.”
The Nassau Mid-Island Chapter rehearses Tuesday evenings at 8 p.m. in Winthrop Hall, Church of the Advent at 555 Advent Street in Westbury. Find out more at www.longislandharmonizers.org. To book a Singing Valentine, call Joel Fairman at 516-521-8462.
Friday, 11 July 2014 08:29
If you stopped by the Farmingdale Public Library this past week, perhaps you noticed all of the paintings and art pieces currently on display. For the entire month of July, the library will feature the many styles of artist/poet Ruth Lawrence.
“I’ve been exhibiting for quite a few years,” said Lawrence, “I am always happy to show my work.”
Lawrence, 87, of East Meadow, said she first began painting at just 12 years old. She recalls, at the time her sister had been dating someone who worked at an art supply store, and had gotten her some oil-based paints as a present.
Friday, 11 July 2014 08:28
Two inventors, one local and one international, have come together to launch an online fundraising campaign for a product they hope to bring to the market by the end of the year.
Farmingdale resident Rafael Avila is one half of the duo behind the Chocolazer, which is a hot glue gun used to melt chocolate for culinary purposes.
The Chocolazer is branded as a no-mess product that is meant to inspire people to be creative with chocolate. The gadget features a removable heating barrel, wherein special chocolate sticks are melted down into a manageable liquid form.
Thursday, 17 July 2014 00:00
Throughout the summer, the Farmingdale Observer will feature the box scores from the Farmingdale Baseball League Inc.’s 9/11 Baseball Tournament.
Farmingdale Greendogs 7 - Seaford Vikings 6 (8U)
Syosset Cubs 18 - Plainview Hawks 1 (12U)
Thursday, 17 July 2014 00:00
Runners and walkers from Farmingdale and all over Long Island and beyond are invited to join in the fun on one of the most unusual 5 Kilometer courses on Long Island at the Saturday, August 9th Lynn, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint.
The Run presents the Long Island running community with an opportunity to traverse a unique combination of paved paths and runner-friendly woodland trails at the Sands Point Preserve.
The leading Nassau County law firm of Lynn, Gartner, Dunne & Covello has signed on to be the new lead sponsor of the event, with partner John Dunne and his wife planning on running the 5K distance. The Lynbrook Runner’s Stop will be back as the presenting sponsor.