Old Capitol Chorus upholds long-running art form
Arts and entertainment are a staple of the combined Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty community. When the COVID-19 virus isn’t interfering, there are many opportunities for both professional and amateur participants, and the Old Capitol Chorus is excited to be a part of this.
Old Capitol Chorus is the local chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. According to the society's homepage, it was founded in 1938 and "preserves and extends the reach of a uniquely American close harmony musical art form whose roots lie in African-American improvisation and European harmony traditions." According to the BHS website, most of us didn’t realize the extent of the presence of barbershop harmony in African American culture until 1992, when Lynn Abbott, a jazz archivist at Tulane University, published his findings showing that in the late 1800s and early 1900s barbershop quarteting was pervasive in African American culture. For more on this, go to www.barbershopharmony.org.
Old Capitol Chorus sings songs in four-part acapella harmony from a variety of music genres arranged in the barbershop style. The style is arranged around a melody line generally sung by the second tenor or lead. The first tenor harmonizes above, the bass sings the lower notes, and the baritone sings somewhere in the middle to round out the four-part chord. Our members come from a wide variety of backgrounds and singing abilities and we are always looking for folks to join us. Here is a snapshot of some of our current members: David Keely sings lead; he's a retired UI groundskeeper and volunteer with TRAIL. Gail Crowe sings bass or tenor and is a retired UI nurse and member of Pocket Change quartet. Travis Richter sings tenor; he is a music educator at Regina school and also sings opera. John Marshall sings baritone is a retired principal and educator and real estate person, and a longtime quartet guy. Chad Knipfer, the director, sings baritone. He's an IT guru with a music education background and is a member of Corridor Four quartet.
A few of the songs, with custom arrangement for our brand of harmony, include: the Beatles' "If I Fell," the Turtles' "Happy Together," Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah," "An Irish Blessing," "Mood Indigo." Broadway sometimes is in our rep with recent additions of "Consider Yourself" and "Where Is Love?" When not constrained by COVID-19 restrictions, we love to sing for a variety of audiences and occasions. We currently are not gathering due to social distancing, but we are making plans for when the harmony starts up again. Once there, we practice at the Robert A. Lee Community Center in Iowa City. Find out more about us at oldcapitolchorus.com. Follow on Facebook page Old Capitol Chorus of Iowa City. Contact us via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone, 319-594-3706.
Gail Crowe is a member of Old Capitol Chorus.