North Hills Harmony Line Chorus enters busy season delivering Singing Valentine’s

Monday, February 3, 2020 | 12:01 AM


Four guys is all that’s needed to keep things harmonious this Valentine’s Day.

That’s only if it’s in the form of a Singing Valentine, being offered once again this year by one of the quartets of the North Hills Harmony Line Chorus. The Singing Valentines can be delivered by the quartet either on Feb. 13, 14 or 15 and includes a serenade of two traditional Valentine’s Day songs, a rose, a card and a small gift. The cost is $50.

The group gets a couple dozen orders over the course of the three days, said Gary Woodward, vice president of community outreach and member of the chorus.

The nonprofit North Hills Harmony Line Chorus is a chapter of the worldwide Barbershop Harmony Society and is also part of the Johnny Appleseed District, which covers mostly Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. They are one of five chapters in the Pittsburgh area, according to member Lee Grimm Jr.

The North Hills chorus was founded in 1962 said Glenn Schilberg, of Wexford. He said the Singing Valentines program has been probably going on for more than 50 years and is something he enjoys.

“We think of Valentines as purely romantic, but probably 20 to 25 percent are for loved ones in a senior care home or convalescing in a hospital, and those are among my dearest memories – especially when a child has managed to be visiting at the scheduled moment. We get ‘teared up’ now and then,” said Schilberg, who sings bass in the 3Rivers4quartet for the North Hills Harmony Line Chorus.

The more challenging serenades come when the sender requires an element of surprise plus precise timing, such as having someone propose with a ring, which has happened previously, said Schilberg.

Most of the time they’re ordered to sing in public places such as a restaurant, retail store or other corporation. However, one time he recalled a quartet was commissioned by someone for her mother, who lived alone at home. When they arrived at the mother’s house, she got nervous and threatened to call police as four “strange” men were knocking on her door.

“We had to quickly call the daughter, who phoned her mom to reassure her that it was perfectly all right and it was a surprise gift from her. We still had to sing through a crack in the door,” said Schilberg.

GPS technology and cellphones have made the job easier but there are still hurdles like downtown parking, school security, college dorm rules, and last-minute schedule changes “that keep us hoppin’,” he said.

“Still, we like to bring happiness to others and we feel good doing it,” said Schilberg.

There are approximately 25 active members in the North Hills Harmony Line Chorus as a whole and they sing in a variety of venues, including local performances, charity fundraisers and retirement homes. In addition to the popular Singing Valentine’s orders, their biggest fundraiser for the group is an annual spring cabaret, which is expected to be held in late April or early May, said Woodward.

They sang the national anthem at a Washington Wild Things baseball game last fall, said Woodward, who sings lead.

There are four voices in barbershop: leads, basses, baritones and tenors. There are all-female groups such as the Sweet Adelines, said Woodward, of Mars.

They’re always looking for an increase of members and welcome anyone to come watch them practice at St. John’s Lutheran Church’s Highland Hall on Cumberland Road in McCandless, every Wednesday at 7 p.m., said Woodward.

Most members are from Shaler, Hampton, Richland, Ross and McCandless. Woodward said members can be diverse, some engineers, lawyers, business people, or in construction.

“It’s a full gamut,” he said.

The retiree has been a member for over a year. He joined after meeting a member, who had a similar love for karaoke, suggested it. He said he went to a few rehearsals before joining.

And he’s glad he did. He’s not ready for the quartet singing, but hopes to soon.

As far as the Singing Valentine’s orders, Woodward said songs can include “Story of the Rose - Heart of Hearts,” “Always” and “Let me call you sweetheart.” The whole serenade takes approximately 15 minutes.

Orders are now being taken for the Singing Valentines at 412-837-9529 or email NHHLchorus@gmail.com.

Also, visit www.harmonylinechorus.com to learn more about the group.