ART BEAT: Stone Mountain Chorus offers 'Singing Valentines'

The Stone Mountain Chorus is one of the area's artistic gems, delighting audiences with the finest in barbershop harmonies.

The group's first performance was for an Atlanta Braves game Sept. 24, 1980, where members performed to 25,000 people. Now they are offering their patrons a much more intimate concert with their annual "Singing Valentines" program.

Each year, the Stone Mountain Chorus gives lovers across the area a chance to really make a Valentine statement. "Singing Valentines" are a great way to say "I love you" with a barbershop quartet delivering two love songs to your honey along with a card and a rose. This all happens in the privacy of your valentine's home, office or wherever they can find the object of your affection.

"This is one of our most enjoyable projects," said Bill Banks, the chorus' project chairman. "We have serenaded both men and women in such varied spots as supermarkets, college and elementary classrooms, business offices, retail shops, doctor's offices, living rooms and residential driveways. The effect is most dramatic when an audience is present to witness the event."

The basic cost is $50 and can be paid with cash, personal check or credit card. Since Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday this year, deliveries will be made throughout the metro Atlanta area Feb. 12, 13 and 14.

To order a "Singing Valentine," call 770-623-4786 or visit www.stonemountainchorus.org and order online.

Another good reason to purchase a "Singing Valentine" is the Stone Mountain's partnership with Families of Children Under Stress. A portion of all proceeds from the "Singing Valentines" will go to this nonprofit organization, a local charity.

FOCUS was founded in 1983, and last year served more than 3,000 Atlanta area families of children with special needs. The Stone Mountain Chorus has made significant yearly contributions to this charity for many years.

The group has more news to share. Drew McMillan has been at the helm of the Stone Mountain Chorus for the past five years. He is passing the baton to a new director, Tim Brooks. In addition, Dylan Oxford will be associate director.

Both Brooks and Oxford have a wealth of barbershop music experience, having sung all over the globe with Drew and Mark Lamback in the award-winning State Line Grocery barbershop quartet. The foursome achieved the bronze medal ranking at the 2009 International Barbershop Convention and Competition in Anaheim, Calif., this past July.

The Stone Mountain Chorus also actively seeks new members. Any man who would like to improve his singing and performing skills and experience the joy and fellowship of barbershop harmony singing is urged to visit the chorus at one of its meetings. These are held from 7:30 to 10 p.m. each Monday evening at the Hudgens Center for the Arts at 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.

After the "Singing Valentines" are delivered, the Stone Mountain Chorus will be fine tuning its music to compete in the 2010 Dixie District Spring Convention and Contest in Greenville, S.C., on March 13.

For more information about the Stone Mountain Chorus and its programs, visit www.stonemountainchorus.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.