Chorus brings back the ’50s in annual show

The Stephen Foster Chorus will take audiences back to the 1950s for its 67th annual concert.

Larry Harris, who leads the chorus said, “The music of the ’50s is something we ourselves can relate to because most of us lived through the ’50s.”

The chorus has been rehearsing music since its Christmas concert, and Harris said he picked the best of the songs from those rehearsals to include for Saturday’s concert at Packard Music Hall.

“The barbershop society has arrangements that they sponsor from which we can choose,” he said. “We look for songs that are suitable for us, that are fun and friendly but still are giving us a little bit of a challenge to grow.”

Harris, who teaches at Youngstown State University and is music director at First Presbyterian Church in Youngstown, said the majority of the program will be made up of songs the chorus is performing for the first time, and the program will include full chorus performances of “Mr. Sandman,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” “Love Me Tender” and “Old Cape Cod,” and the chorus’ octet will sing “All I Have to Do Is Dream.”

The theme also inspired some other changes for this year’s program.

Weather permitting, a classic car show is planned in the parking lot of the music hall from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday with a prize for the best car in the show. And while guest quartets always are a part of the program, this year’s concert will feature Girard’s Mark Pringle with his Elvis Presley tribute using outfits, microphones, guitars and stage props to capture the look and sound of Presley at the beginning of his career.

“Many of the fellas have seen Mark and used him in some of their other things, and everyone agree he would be good here,” Harris said. “He fits right in, especially with ‘Love Me Tender’ (on the program) and his hair style and dress.”

Guest quartets performing Saturday include the Vocal Alliance, a local quartet in its 12th year performing together, The Pittsburgh Pals and the Hot Air Buffoons.

The Buffoons feature Harry Haflett, a past director of the Stephen Foster Chorus, and the group is a past winner of the Buckeye Invitational Comedy Quartet Competition and the 2005 Johnny Appleseed District champions. The group has been ranked among the top 50 quartets in the world for eight consecutive years, and was ranked in the top 16 two of those years.