GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Robyne Nelson, left, receives a singing Valentine performed by The Sounds of Aloha chorus: Dan Tom tenor, left; Ken Nelson, lead; Fred Michaels, bass; and Zig Pilagyi, baritone.
Quartets sing to your heart's desire on Valentine's Day
The Sounds of Aloha chorus delivers musical interludes
MANY women complain that men are incapable of getting in touch with their feelings. Those women have definitely not met the men from the Sounds of Aloha chorus.
Sappy love songs, romantic notions and a whole lot of heart are what make a singing valentine. And the quartets from the chorus present dozens of them each year.
Emotions run especially high for the quartets around Valentine's Day.
Take, for example, Rich Cordeiro's story of his first delivery. The recipient was a "burly, rugged man who sat reading the Sunday paper and holding a mug of coffee." His wife had ordered up the valentine. "
He was definitely having some trouble," said Cordeiro, noting that the man was unable to make eye contact. "During the second song, she sat next to him and he grabbed her hand. The tears came, and he let the last song in. All of us left with lumps in our throats."
The experience couldn't have been better, Cordeiro said. "I love to see a guy who is willing to let his heart open."
Cordeiro has been in the chorus for 14 years now, and worked last year from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. singing valentines. "There is a lot of joy in singing," he said. "You definitely get back."
THE QUARTETS have delivered valentines to multimillion-dollar estates in Diamond Head and to a worn-out school bus at the bus yard in Wahiawa. "The contrast is unbelievable," said Don Raymond, who has been singing and delivering for 20 years.
One night at the Hanohano Room, Raymond found himself singing accompaniment to a marriage proposal. "We sang 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart' and presented the lady with a card that said, 'Will you marry me?' He got down on one knee with his diamond in a felt box and proposed. She said yes. It was one of those times when trying to keep composure is a challenge."
Not all deliveries bring joy, however. Raymond remembers, "a guy from the mainland was trying to dig himself out of a hole.
"When we started singing, it was obvious that the lady had totally written this turkey off. We sang one song and appropriately dismissed ourselves. It was really awkward."
The Aloha Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society was chartered in 1947 by several of Hawaii residents, including William Quinn, Hawaii's first elected governor. The chorus has members just out of high school and some who have participated for more than 50 years.
COURTESY CLAUDIA CANNON
The Skylarks offer a woman's touch in a singing Valentines Day greeting. Members are from left, Carol Wee, tenor; Charley Oyama, lead; Joann Kirihara, bass; Debbie Noguchi, baritone.
Fred Michaels recalls singing at the bedside of a women who was dying of cancer. "We sang for her, and she did not show much expression. But she looked at each one of us. And a tear came down her cheek."
IF YOU PREFER a feminine tone in your valentine, Na Leo Lani Chorus' local chapter, Sweet Adelines International, also makes deliveries.
"We have done valentine deliveries a lot over the years," said member Claudia Cannon, co-director. "My personal favorite was singing to the man we got out of an elevator shaft in Waikiki where he was working. He was hot and greasy but enjoyed his songs very much."
They also sang to a man in full traction. "About the only thing that moved was his mouth, when he smiled back at us."
It is an emotional time, and the reactions they get can bring on tears for the singers. "We've sung where a lady was actually bawling her eyes out with heaving sighs. It was very hard to concentrate, but it moved us to sing with even more feeling," said Na Leo member Charley Oyama.
One of Oyama's best memories is singing for a couple waiting to go into a restaurant in Waikiki. "The couple listened to our love songs and looked deeply into each other's eyes -- which made us a little embarrassed -- but we carried on and sang our little hearts out."
Cost of a live singing valentine is $50 and includes two romantic songs, a silk rose or balloon and a personalized valentine. Evening delivery to Waikiki is $75. Call 944-3373 or 262-SONG.|