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Harmony in Our Lives honors Pickers and Singers folk group

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From page A5 | November 11, 2012 | Leave Comment

This year’s Harmony in Our Lives concerts will be held Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. in the Brunelle Performing Arts Theatre at Davis High School, 315 W. 14th St.

As has become the custom at this annual event, each performance will showcase a different lineup of choral groups from schools around Davis — a tribute to the robust music education programs in both the public and private schools. And at each performance, there will be a special recognition of Pickers and Singers, a local folk music group that has been meeting for decades.

The 1:30 p.m. performance will feature the César Chávez Elementary School Chours, the Willett Elementary School Chorus, the Emerson Junior High Beginning Chorus, the Davis High School Concert Choir, and the Davis High School Madrigals.

The 4:15 p.m. performance will include the Davis Children’s Chorale, the St. James School Choir, the Harper Junior High Chorus, the Holmes Junior High Chorus, the Davis High Advanced Treble Choir, and the Davis High School Jazz Choir.

Performing at both shows will be the host group that organizes the annual Harmony in Our Lives showcase, the West Valley Barbershop Chorus.

Being honored at this year’s concerts is the local folk music group known as Pickers and Singers, with group member Ron Goldberg accepting the award. This is only the second time that a group has been honored with the Harmony in Our Lives Award. (The other group to be so honored was the Davis Musical Theatre Company.)

According to Tom Powers of the West Valley Barbershop Chorus, the name Pickers and Singers may not ring a bell with some Davis residents. “Nevertheless, this group has been active continuously since 1964. They meet to play for their own enjoyment, but members of the group are often seen playing on their own in various configurations at the Davis Farmers Market and at other events. Our award judging committee agreed that this loosely organized group has clearly contributed to the musical enrichment of the Davis community and has given great joy to many music lovers here.”

Ron Goldberg, who has been singing with the group for about 15 years, told The Enterprise that Pickers and Singers are indeed loosely organized. “There are no official officers, no by-laws, no rules,” Goldberg explained. “The group meets every other Wednesday. We organize our get-togethers by email, and the job of sending the email messages shifts from volunteer to volunteer as the world goes by. Before there was email, we used postcards.”

In terms of music, Goldberg explained, “we lean mostly toward folk songs. But pop songs and showtunes slip in there every once in a while. A number of people in the group play guitar, but you’ll also hear mandolin, banjo, ukulele, accordion, or violin on occasion.”

A typical meeting of Pickers and Singers attracts around 20 or so participants. “People sit in a circle, and we go clockwise around the circle, taking turns,” Goldberg said. “The person whose turn it is generally sings, or plays a song. If they want other people to play along, they so note. Or, if they want to play by themselves, they so note. They are entitled to pass if they don’t have anything prepared or aren’t ready to sing.”

“It’s a group of friends who get together — purely a social, musical group. We generally choose a theme for our meetings, like the seasons, animals, famous songwriters, food or holidays,” he added.

Pickers and Singers meets privately, somewhat akin to a neighborhood book club, and the group has generally avoided publicity over the past 40-plus years. “It’s not a public performing group,” Goldberg said. “But many members of the group, over many years, have performed at public events all over town, and some prominent members of the community have been members of the group over the years.” And as a result, Pickers and Singers has quietly advanced the cause of music in the community.

Pickers and Singers were nominated for the award by Shielda Trotter. Other current members include Louise Oehler, Wendy Silk and Martha Teeter.

This is the 24th year for the Harmony in Our Lives award.  Previous award recipients include Angelo Moreno, Claudia Krich, Mindy Manville, D. Kern Holoman, Jan Coker, Vivian Meyer, Karen Gardias, Bob Gonzalez, Celia Cottle, Stephen Peithman, Mary Klisiewicz, the Davis Musical Theatre Company, Larry Snyder, Anne Gibbs, Nancy Adams, Martha Dickman, Rachel Kessler, Margaret Neu, Fredrick Lange, Dorothy West, John Draper, Richard Brunelle and Ida Mae Harter.

Tickets for Sunday’s concerts are $10 adults, $5 students — may or may not be available at the door — this is a popular event that often plays to capacity audiences, so arrive a few minutes early if you are looking to buy a ticket. Proceeds go to the Davis School Arts Foundation to support music education.

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