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  • Fifty Years of Barbershop Singing
  •  Date Posted: Tue, Sep 26 2023
    Fifty Years of Barbershop Singing
    Temp Smith(left) presenting to Frank Hunter(right)

    The South Hills Keystone Chorus would like to recognize one of our members for 50 years of barbershop singing.  Frank B. Hunter was born on 7/20/32.  He grew up in Swissvale, Pa, and played shortstop for his high school team. After graduation he worked for GMAC and then Family Finance.   He was unhappy with the work  and decided to go to college.  He  attended the University of Pittsburgh on a baseball scholarship, following a fellow Swissvale alum,  who became his friend.  Frank then decided to try teaching and attended Duquesne to obtain his teaching credentials.  He taught middle school in Upper St Clair, Pa from 1961-1994.  Having no   student teaching experience, he was very nervous on his first day because the school principal and superintendent were there to observe him.

       Frank was persuaded to attend a barbershop show because a close friend of his was the Master of Ceremonies.  It was held at the Carnegie Music Hall by the Greater Pittsburgh Barbershop Chorus. He found out that they practiced at the Swissvale Presbyterian Church, only five blocks from his home.  That information and his love of singing led him to join that chorus.
       After moving to the South Hills in 1961 he joined the South Hills Keystone Chorus and resigned from the Pittsburgh chorus. He later became a dual chapter member when he joined the Washington Pa Presidents of Harmony.
      He was President of the Keystone Chorus for five years.  He  was also show chairman and secretary. He became an official member of the Barbershop Harmony Society in 1973.  As a member of the Johnny Appleseed District, he was elected to be a Counselor, visiting each chorus in the district to help them.  He was elected Barbershopper of the year twice as a member of the Keystone Chorus. He has always sung lead.
       Frank has sung with many quartets over the years.  His favorite was the Fun and Fancy Four quartet.  He has four grown children and has been married to Sheron since Sept 10, 1967. He enjoys bike riding and collecting miniature VW cars.  He will continue singing as long as there is a chorus that will have him.  Congratulations on fifty years of singing, Frank.

  • BARBERSHOP MUSIC | Step back in time with Keystone Chorus
  •  Date Posted: Tue, Apr 18 2023

    BARBERSHOP MUSIC | Step back in time with Keystone Chorus

    The Keystone Chorus will be performing at the D & O Wine Cellars in Crafton on April 22.

    By Lori Altmeyer


    Crafton couple Bob Seeger and Carole Panno are champions for The Keystone Chorus, a group of 22 men ranging in ages from their early 30s to 90 years young, which has sung a cappella barbershop standards since 1958.


    Seeger is vice president of membership and recruits new members while Panno, board member at large and “Keystone Groupie,” manages marketing and public relations for the chorus.


    “We are allowing new people to hear this style for the first time. It is exciting for the audience and for me,” said Seeger.


    He finds it gratifying to sing in front of an older crowd, especially in nursing homes.


    "When they recognize a song, you should see the look of joy on their faces,” Seeger said.


    Panno said hiring The Keystone Chorus to perform at a nursing home for a loved one’s birthday was an incredible gift. The chorus also performs at funerals, farmer’s markets, happy hours and restaurants.


    "From the cradle to the grave, we perform everywhere and anywhere,” Seeger said.


    The Keystone Chorus is part of the International Barbershop Harmony Society which has 17 chapters in the United States.


    "Not all barbershop choruses compete in annual barbershop conventions but are community-oriented like Keystone. Our focus is more on entertaining, helping our community and exposing people to this wonderful hobby,” said Temp Smith, chapter president.


    New members can expect a very rewarding and welcoming experience.


    “Reading music is not essential to be part of this group. Currently, there are only a few men who are part of the chorus that can actually read music. Being able to carry a tune and being social among a community of men who love to sing are the only skills required,” Smith said.


    Members rehearse on Tuesday evenings in the basement of Hamilton Presbyterian Church in Bethel Park.


    Ken Williams has been the musical director for the past 30 years and a member for 42. He said “barbershopping” started in 1938.


    "We are always looking to recruit men who love to sing in the shower. We need to do a lot of public performances to get younger people involved and expose them to this kind of music,” said Williams.

    Barbershop quartets are composed of four-part harmonies made up of tenor, bass, and baritone harmonizing the part of the fourth voice, the lead.


    "The idea of barbershop harmony is ringing chords and creating special times when singing in places like a parking garage or a bathroom,” Williams said.


    Though the style is known for a cappella renditions, Williams occasionally plays accompaniments. His favorite is the ukulele.


    During the pandemic, the group had to put their performances on hold but continued to rehearse over Zoom. Though they’re grateful to be back in front of audiences, the men are also glad to be able to get together in person with one another again.


    "The combination of singing, the lousy jokes, and just being there for each other when you least expect. When one of us goes through something good or bad we show up out of nowhere to support each other,” Williams said.


    Temp says that performances, also called sing-outs, contain 12 to 14 songs plus two quartet performances lasting from 45 minutes to two hours. Concerts are free and contributions are welcome. Performances are rain-or-shine events.

    Upcoming events

    Saturday, April 22 – from 6 - 8 p.m. at D & O Wine Cellars, 70 E Crafton Ave., Crafton. Wine is available for tasting at this free event. You may bring your own snacks.


    Sunday, Aug. 6 – at 2:30 p.m. for the free Dean Streator concert series at the Bethel Park Community Center, 5151 Park Ave., Bethel Park.


    For more information,

  • Keystone Chorus Brings Old Tunes to Life
  •  Date Posted: Fri, Jul 22 2022
    Bethel Park-based Keystone Chorus brings old-time tunes to life

    JOANNE KLIMOVICH HARROP   | Wednesday, July 20, 2022 11:01 a.m.

    The Keystone Chorus performs for local seniors.
    In the basement of Hamilton Presbyterian Church in Bethel Park is the sound of music.
    Familiar songs such as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Under the Boardwalk” and “When I’m Sixty-Four” conjure up memories of tunes reminiscent of the days of barbershop quartets.
    On this night it’s a group of singers: The Keystone Chorus, which is part of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
    A barbershop chorus is a group of men who sing a cappella in four-part harmony.
    “It makes our day to sing for people,” said Temp Smith of Mt. Lebanon, president of the Keystone Chorus.
    Smith said before a recent two-hour rehearsal that the weekly practices allow the group of singers to mesh their voices to be, well, in harmony.
    Pretty much silent when it came to live concerts the past two years because of the pandemic, the crew got back to the stage in later spring with performances at nursing homes and other senior care facilities
    What began as four guys harmonizing in musical performances in the late 1950s has evolved into a chorus of 24 members who regularly participate. In this style of vocalizing, the melody is consistently sung by the lead, tenor, bass and baritone.
    During a break in the practice, several singers broke into groups of the traditional quartet to sing. During a performance, they may split off into groups of four. They often practice in organized quartets so they can develop a repertoire and perform together.
    In addition to singing for seniors, they performed at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Cecil, Washington County, the day before Memorial Day and at the Ordination Anniversary Celebration for St. Oscar Romero Parish at the Hilton Garden Inn/Southpointe in early June. You can hear them at church festivals and farmers’ markets.
    They will be on stage at the Dean Streator Summer Concert Series on Aug. 7. The series is sponsored by the Bethel Park Community Foundation.
    The series resumed following a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic. Shows are at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday through Aug. 7 at the Bethel Park Community Center. The Allegheny Brass Band is scheduled for July 31.
    The concerts are free. Contributions are welcome. The foundation funds scholarships and projects for Bethel Park residents in the areas of arts and culture, health and recreation, education and safety.
    The event is named after Dean Streator who was long time band director at Bethel Park and a former trustee of the community foundation. When he died, the marching band performed and the funeral procession rode past Bethel Park High School.
    His daughter Lynn Streator Dunbar is a trustee for the foundation. She and trustee Janet Cropp Paterra are co-chairing the concert series.

    “We feel like we are bringing a nice variety of work to this concert series,” Streator Dunbar said. “Music is a wonderful way for people to enjoy an afternoon out. It teaches life lessons. My father loved music.”
    That love for music is felt from the audience when the Keystone Chorus performs, said Bob Hrabar of Carrick. He said it means a lot to the people for whom they perform.
    “We see people tear up when we sing ‘God Bless America’ and ‘Armed Forces Medley,’”said Hrabar. “Our music moves people.”
    The group continued to rehearse during the pandemic — virtually. They created two recordings whereby individuals sent in performances that were put together on YouTube celebrating Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day.
    They find members by word of mouth and ask everyone they meet.
    “It takes persistence,” said Hrabar. “I asked someone for an entire year before they said yes. They always had an excuse.”
    Their oldest member is George Fritsch of Mt. Lebanon, who will be 96 on Aug. 6.
    “It’s a challenge, but I love a challenge,” Fritsch said. “It’s about camaraderie. I love performing. People always tell us they can’t sing. But they tell us they sing in the shower and sing in the car, but can’t sing in the chorus.”

    Scott Toney, 40, of Castle Shannon, is the youngest member. He joined after his stepdad, Mark Schroeder of Bethel Park, became a member.
    “He loves to sing and I love to sing,” Toney said. “If I am having a tough day these guys pick me up.”
    They pay minimal dues.
    “For us it’s a social thing,” Hrabar said. “We banter and enjoy being with each other. We are community chorus.”
    They said when they visit a senior living facility and meet a member of a quartet, they invite the man to sing with them. They also take time to talk to the residents who may have no one to visit them.
    The tunes they choose are from the canon of early 20th-century tunes known as the Great American Songbook. When they performed at the National Cemeter,y there was plenty of applause.
    “It is rewarding singing for people,” said John Tamiggi of Bethel Park.
    “We hope to make a difference to a lot of people,” Ken Dobbins said.
    A normal performance is on average an hour to an hour and a half.
    The group is in search of a director.
    As vice president of membership, Bob Seeger of Crafton said he encourages men of all ages who enjoy music and singing to come to a weekly rehearsal with the hope that they may join.
    “Our love of music has brought us fellowship amongst our group, joy to those to whom we sing, and fulfillment in bringing happiness to others,” Seeger said. “Regardless of any formal musical training, all our welcome!”
    Details: or 412-254-3148

    JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, or via Twitter .

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