The Bay Country Chorus is the Easton Maryland Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society which was formerly known as the Society for the Preservation & Encouragement of Barbershop Singing in America. It is a part of the largest all male singing organization in the world. The first organized meeting was held July 24, 1995 when thirteen men met to discuss the possibility of forming a barbershop singing chapter in Easton. We were invited by Ms. Ellen General, then Executive Director of the Avalon Foundation, to use the theatre as our home. And thus, the chorus was born.
Our long-time members tell me our first Director was Al Butler (before my time}. He was followed by June Easton, Pat Biddle, Tom Ewald, Dave Milholland and Eric Cheezum. Our current Director is Roni Gapetz. She has a storied history of singing and directing a male and female chorus. She has also been a part of several quartets singing four-part harmony. Her knowledge of the art is welcome, and we are fortunate to have her. She has a BA in music from Bethany College and a master’s degree in education from Salisbury University.
The chorus started performing primarily in Talbot County but has expanded to the three surrounding counties on the mid-shore of Maryland plus a few “over the bridge” opportunities. Many of our performances are at senior living facilities, venues dealing with patients in rehab or with dementia. These performances can be as few as 12 citizens or as many as 100. We have also performed at the Bethesda Naval Medical Hospital and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Recently we performed at the annual meeting of the Anglican Dioceses of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum 100th anniversary. We sang the National Anthem at the DelMarVa Shore Birds Baseball Game and performed at the annual meeting of Stores in Baltimore, a foundation dealing with the restoration and keeping of antique furniture. That was performed in front of an audience over 250 people. We have also been a part of the celebration for citizens that have reached their 100th birthday sponsored by Comfort Keepers.
Our group includes men of all walks of life who enjoy the art of singing. We have an Anglican minister, a professional photographer, a space engineer, entrepreneur’s, a professional musician, and a wounded veteran, among others. This mix makes for great camaraderie and discussion.
The chorus is self-sustaining. We have two major fund-raisers each year. On Valentine’s day we send quartets out to homes, offices or just about anywhere to sing love songs to men or women. The Valentines have been ordered by relatives, spouses, significant others, and close friends. This is always fun and gives the recipient a memory to remember. We are also fortunate to receive program grants from several local organizations that provide funds through their charitable foundations.
In the fall the chorus presents an annual show. This features a skit with some humor included which leads us to singing several songs throughout the program. The songs are usually in line with the theme of the skit. We have done skits on Ireland, The Old West, a High School Reunion, California Dreaming and a tour of the nation in song. We usually feature a well-known quartet as our guests for the program.
In 2019 we appeared before 19 organizations and in front of over 1400 people. In 2020 we were off to a great start until the virus hit. Right now, the venues that can support our performances are shuttered. Once the restrictions are lifted, we will be rescheduling those performances and scheduling public performances as well. Although we cannot practice collectively, we are working individually and putting together a Christmas show we plan to offer this winter.
For further information about the Chorus or if you feel you might want to join us please call John Crovo and we will put you on our list to contact when we begin to practice again. Practices are held on Monday evenings at 7pm sharp at the Brooklets Sr. Center at 400 Brooklets Ave in Easton. For inquiries about performances please contact John Crovo as well.
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