Barbershop quartet brings harmony, memories to area seniors
By Romi Herron For The Courier-News February 20, 2013 12:56PM
Fox Valley Men in Harmony (left to right) Bill Dysart, Al Boeldt, Jim Scholtz and John Jeide performed for area seniors this week, singing love songs in honor of Valentine's Day. The performances were sponsored by Visiting Angels of South Elgin. | Submitted photo
Updated: March 17, 2013 6:11PM
Al Boeldt of McHenry has been singing since the 1940s, and this week the bass vocalist continued the tradition for Valentine’s Day, harmonizing with his fellow barbershop quartet members with love songs for area seniors.
The gesture was coordinated by Visiting Angels, a South Elgin home care business that focuses on the aging population.
“They are reliving it. They are re-experiencing it,” said Boeldt of the connection seniors seem to make when they hear songs such as the ones performed Wednesday.
“My Wild Irish Rose,” “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” and “Only You” were some of the selections. Visiting Angels owner/director Arlene Peterson said regardless of where people might be in cognitive memory decline, music seems to tap into a special place of recollection.
“I think it’s a love connection to their past and present, meeting them right where they are,” she said. “It brings great joy to people.”
Live musical performances are particularly special to the elderly, who have fewer opportunities to experience it if they’re living in a care facility or have transportation issues.
Pam Hilderbrand, community relations director at Tower Hill Healthcare Center in South Elgin, said the quartet, Fox Valley Men of Harmony, was a pleasant surprise Wednesday.
“It was a spur-of-the-moment thing,” Hilderbrand said. “They had a little extra time in their schedule, and we gathered our residents into the main dining room because they all adore it when we have entertainment coming in.”
About 35 attended, Hilderbrand said, adding, “They just loved their harmony and their white sport coats, and it was a real fun day for our residents.”
Lead vocalist Jim Scholtz of McHenry is the public library director for McHenry County and said he joined the quartet about five months ago. Degreed as a music instructor, Scholtz said he’s been singing in church choirs since the age of 4 and took part in glee clubs. Boeldt said he’s been singing with the other two performers, baritone Bill Dysart of Crystal Lake and tenor John Jeide of St. Charles, for more than 20 years.
Jeide said the deep breathing required to sing is a great health benefit and that about 27 members take part in Fox Valley Men of Harmony. The group practices regularly at First United Church of Methodist in Elgin.
The quartet’s other audiences Wednesday included Sherman West Court, Presence Saint Joseph Hospital, Elgin Senior Services Center and Paul’s Cafe, according to Visiting Angels marketing director Re Kielar.
“The best part for me is watching the audience while the quartet is singing,” she said. “They are singing along word for word.”