50 years of brotherhood and music


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Around 50 years ago, a group of men joined to create a barbershop chorus — the Iowa City Melody Hawks. Now, that group, which has changed its named to the Old Capitol Chorus, will celebrate a 50th anniversary of tradition, brotherhood, and music.

The chorus will perform at 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St. Admission is $8 for youth, $18 for general admission. 

The tightly knit men who participate in weekly rehearsals are broken down into four sections, "tenor," "lead," "baritone," and "bass," as they cohesively incorporate their individual talents as a group that has become a tradition.

JP Marshall, a lead in the chorus, has been with the chapter for more than 30 years, calling himself a "barber brat," a term he gave himself because of his father's membership in the chorus before his own. Marshall said the members of the group are his close friends and the brotherhood of the chorus is incredible.

"The chorus' heritage is really strong," Marshall said. "When I was born, my father was singing some of these same tunes, so this anniversary is historically exciting for me. There's a lot of excitement around the show to celebrate our heritage, as well as how far we've come."

Previous directors Lyndon Crist, Jim Berry Jim Ingrahhm, and Larry Monson will participate in Saturday's event by directing a song of their choice, in memory of Larry Knipfer. Current director Chad Knipfer said that although the group is coming up on 50 years, the members are beginning to start anew.

"We have a lot of energy and are heading in a direction of continued growth," Knipfer said. "I believe we're starting to attract some really talented guys from the community."

The Old Capitol Chorus is continually growing, inviting members of the community to come to participate as a guest in its weekly Thursday practices at 7:30 p.m. at the Robert A. Lee Community Center, 220 S. Gilbert St. Practices are open, and auditions are not necessary.

Director of the Englert Theater Andre Perry said he was excited about the chorus's anniversary, as well as its ongoing relationship with the Englert.

"It's awesome that there's a community group that's been able to keep this going for such a long time," Perry said. "We're proud to be able to work with them and be the space in which they would want to celebrate their 50th year."

When: 2 & 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington
Admission: $8 youth, $18 general public

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