no bad day that can't be
overcome by listening to a barbershop
quartet; this is just truth, plain
and simple. ~
someone at the age of 87 find the motivation and energy to
sing regularly with the Good Neighbours Choristers, the Winnipeg
Golden Chordsmen Barbershop Chorus, as Baritone with the Generations
of Sound Quartet, with the Oakbank United Church Choir and
then, volunteer at the Oakbank Dinner Theatre? Not to mention,
travel to various Barbershop conventions and meetings? And
then, drive a combine for a friend through harvest season,
which he has been doing since 1992? And all this after having
major heart surgery less than a year ago?
Casselman, as he is this 87-year-old who is young at heart,
and soul, and busier than a bee. He also has family near and
far that he is devoted to, and often travels by train to visit
the distant ones.
to motivate Harold is his zest for life and his love of singing,
especially the Barbershop style. Harold just received his
60 Year Member certificate from the Barbershop Harmony Society,
a worldwide organization also known as the Society for the
Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing
in America, Inc. (SPEBSQSA), for his involvement and dedication
within the Society and with the Winnipeg Golden Chordsmen,
the local chapter of the Society in the Land of the Lakes
are many 60-year members but not all have been active in the
organization for the duration of their membership. But, Harold
has been active in it for all 60 of them. He even serves on
the executive of the Winnipeg Golden Chordsmen Chorus as VP
Chapter Development, Leadership with Charities and is Section
Leader for the Baritone Section on the Music Committee. The
Winnipeg Chapter chartered in 1948 and had their first show
on April 2, 1949.
is barbershop music? Its described on the Barbershop
Harmony Society website (www.barbershop.org)
as, Music in a very pure form created with nothing but
human voices coming together to create a rich and satisfying
texture that is pleasing to the ears and invigorating to the
soul. Whether you're an experienced musician or a brand new
musician, barbershop levels the playing field and allows you
to find your voice and be a part of creating something that
is greater than the sum of its parts.
are even Harmony Universities and Colleges. Each of the Societys
16 Districts offers weekend schools, seminars, workshops,
and other educational programs. You can get more information
from the Barbershop Harmony Society website on this topic
and so much more.
Harmony Society is the first of several organizations to promote
and preserve barbershop music as an art form. It was founded
by Owen C. Cash in 1938 in Oklahoma, and promoted barbershop
harmony among men of all ages. As of 2007, just under 30,000
men in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Britain,
Europe and Canada are members of this organization. International
headquarters moved to Nashville, Tennessee from Kenosha, Wisconsin
women's singing organization, Sweet Adelines International
(SAI), was founded in 1945.
of Lakes District covers Manitoba, Saskatchewan and NW Ontario
in Canada, and North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin in the
joined the Brandon Barbershop Chorus in 1950, near the community
he hails from - Lauder, Manitoba. He grew up and worked on
his parents farm until he joined the Royal Canadian
Air Force in 1942 until 1945. It was actually a hired hand
on his parents farm in the 1920s and 30's that
inspired him to get involved in more music when the opportunity
presented itself. He also taught Harold the basics of how
to read music which is a benefit in any style of singing.
made your own fun in 1930s, says Harold. He sang
duets with his sister, Eleanor, and joined the Lauder United
Church choir at an early age. Eleanor was a member of the
Regina Sweet Adelines Chapter for 27 years. Harold was the
youngest of 11 siblings. He has four sisters left, ages 105,
100, 99 and 89.
Harold started a lengthy career working in the Health Care
field, firstly as a representative of the former Blue Cross
plan. In 1960, he worked at the Riverdale Hospital in Rivers.
He then moved to Winnipeg and worked for Manitoba Health Organization
and then became the Administrator for East View Lodge in Neepawa
in 1966. In 1975, he became the Administrative Assistant for
the Middlechurch Home of Winnipeg just outside the north perimeter
on Main Street. He then worked for the Manitoba Development
Corporation until he retired in 1990.
years, all through his working years, family and retirement
life, to this day, Harold had habitually and eagerly attended
weekly rehearsals with the Golden Chordsmen Chorus, currently
under the musical direction of Sherrie Bredesen. It is quite
a commitment as members are also expected to learn new songs
on their own time as well. They compete at District conventions
and perform various times throughout the year. Among the Chordsmen,
are several quartet groups who perform independently for the
public. Harold is proud of the quartet he is part of which
is called Generations of Sound, due to the fact
that two of their members, Brian Strong and Duncan Zaluski,
who sing lead (melody) and tenor respectively, are much younger
than the other two. Brian, being so young considers Harold
to be, not only a great friend, but a mentor, as well. Charles
Kiefling sings bass (lowest pitch), and Harold sings baritone
(between tenor and bass). Harold had sung tenor in his early
days of barbershopping. As Harold explained, with this combination
of voices, you create chords like an instrument, and you can
really do more than an instrument with the flexibility of
the vocal chords all working in harmony to create the Barbershop
sound. Generations of Sound began in September, 2008 and they
generate sweet and tender melodies in classic Barbershop harmony,
specializing in old-time a cappella favorites.
of Sound quartet.
L-R: Duncan Zaluski (tenor), Brian Strong (lead), Charles
Kiefling (bass) and Harold Casselman (baritone).
performed locally on Breakfast Television, at the St. Norbert
Farmers Market, and as a part of the annual Golden Chordsmen
Christmas Serenade. They also sing at private birthday or
anniversary functions, and take part in the Singing Valentine
Program with the Winnipeg Golden Chordsmen. This is where
you can hire a quartet to go to your Valentine to sing some
love songs and deliver a rose at workplaces, schools, restaurants
and other locations around Winnipeg. It's generally quite
affordable and people love it! This program will be in operation
on Friday, February 12th and Saturday, February 13th this
year. Bookings can be made right up until noon February 11th,
but they can usually squeeze people in last minute, even the
same day, according to Brian Strong, the Golden Chordsmen
Marketing VP. Details will be posted at www.goldenchordsmen.com
soon. Check regularly for updates.
recently performed with the "Tempo" quartet, as
a tenor fill in, at the MSOS Senior Idol finals on November
18th, 2009 at Club Regent in Winnipeg. They had previously
won the right to sing in the finals with Rob Smith as tenor,
and other members of the quartet,
Ron (Peppie) Latourelle, Jim Gilroy and Ted Mikliechuck.
Harmony Society is striving to keep the art form alive. We
need more younger members, says Harold, as many current
members are getting up in age. Its a great thing to
be a part of, as there are many
benefits. Singing, for one, can be very healthy and therapeutic.
It can brighten up the moods of everyone those singing
and listening. You make great friends and create beautiful
music. You dont need an instrument other than your own
voice. If you like to sing and enjoy performing, why not give
it a try?
says hes fortunate at his age to still be able to sing.
He practices regularly and his singing voice is in top shape.
The more you sing, the better it gets, says Harold.
You cant stop practicing. He says after
singing for two hours, your stomach muscles should be sore,
not your throat. He takes pleasure in making good sound and
harmony, blending with other voices. He also enjoys listening
to other performers.
received the most prestigious award given by the Harmony Society
in 1983 - the B.O.T.Y. (Barbershopper of the Year) award.
And, Harold was very proud to receive the Dorothy Casselman
Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, named in his wifes
honour. She passed away in 2001, but some of her music books
are still on their piano, and her memory will be in his heart
and Dorothy Casselman
first met Dorothy in Rivers in 1951 at a Popularity Contest
where Harolds quartet "The Flat Happy Four"
was performing at and Dorothy happened to be the winner. Dorothy
came from a musical family. Her father played fiddle, her
mother played piano and Dorothy sang. They would often entertain
with her Dad's band called the "Hyram Hay Seeds".
Dorothy lead several Church Choirs over the years and she
also sang with the Good Neighbours Choristers. Incidentally,
Harold was boarding at her aunts house in Brandon when
they first met. With a little match-making by Dorothys
aunt, the rest became history. Its no wonder that they
lived a life in harmony, both with a passion for music. They
raised three beautiful daughters. Their oldest daughter, (Lynn),
won the Toronto Conservatory of Music silver medal for her
piano skills. Jewel is the Music teacher at a St. James school
and Margaret Anne is an Interpreter for the Deaf at a Saskatoon
school. There are four granddaughters, two grandsons, one
great-grandson and one great-granddaughter, as well.
Amber, and her husband Joel, own and operate Oxford Salon
& Spa, the hair salon of choice for the TV anchors
at CTV-TV. Another granddaughter, Melanie, co-owns and operates
the Park Theatre & Movie Café in Osborne
Village in Winnipeg. The Park Theatre combines the best in
live music acts, live theatre, comedy, movies, a gourmet café
and DVD rentals, all in a beautifully preserved historic building,
offering an alternative to many of the city's larger live
music/theatre venues. (www.parktheatervideo.com).
The other grandchildren are of school age.
Raunora Westcott, who plays with the Thurston rink coached
by her father, Ron, are heading to Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario
at the end of January to compete in the national Scotties
Tournament of Hearts curling competition. She and her teammates,
Jill Thurston, Kristen Phillips and Leslie Wilson, recently
won the Womens title in Killarney in the provincial
Scotties tournament. You go girls!
may be 87 years of age, but you couldnt call him old.
There may be a good reason for his longevity, besides being
in the genes, and it could be credited to singing. He also
exercises at the Seven Oaks Wellness Institute and is computer
savvy, too, covering his physical and mental exercise. Studies
have linked singing with a lower heart rate, decreased blood
pressure, and reduced stress and pain. Some music therapists
use song to help patients suffering from a variety of psychological
and physiological conditions. Singing, particularly in a chorus,
seems to benefit the elderly particularly well, showing significant
health improvements. So get singing. It could improve and
prolong your life!
of the Generations of Sound quartet, or the Winnipeg
Golden Chordsmen Chorus, you can call Brian at 770-0224.
For information on joining the Chordsmen, call Harold
at 667-4303. Visit: www.goldenchordsmen.com
for more information.
The Chordsmen are hosting a
Red Carpet/Northwest Division event on May 15, 2010.
miss their Annual show at Pantages Theatre on June 19,
2010. It will be based on 60s music.
Together, we hope to
the whole world singing! ~