Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Garden State Singing Convention

Upper Montclair, New Jersey

May 19-20, 1995

Friday, May 19

The third annual session of the Garden State Sacred Harp Convention was held at the Montclair Friends’ Meeting House. The class was called to order by George Seiler welcoming everyone and leading song on 47t. He then led the class in prayer. The business session was then held with the election of the following officers: Co-Chairmen—Jean and George Seiler; Secretary—Gina Balestracci; Reception Committee—Martha Jane Husick and Susan Bingham; Arranging Committee—Paul Gauthier and Bill Holt; Food Committee—Virginia Douglas and Diane Mennella; Finance Committee—Dennis Leipold, Laura Densmore, and Richard Schmeidler; Memorial Committee—Ginny Ely; Lodging—George and Jean Seiler; Set-Up—Jim Brittain; Child-Care Coordinator—Cheryl Doehler; Resolutions Committee—Ella Wilcox and Paula McGray. Leaders: Jean Seiler 34b; Guy Bankes 352; Dennis Leipold 99; Tim Slattery 171; Susan Bingham 146; Ginny Ely 228; Roland Hutchinson 73b; Linda Thomas 37b; Dan Lipper 147t; Karen Snowberg 148; Bob and Tommy Hall 274t; Gina Balestracci with newcomers Loren Fortna, Dora Martinez, and Joyce Goldman 72b; Dan Hertzler 82t; Ruth von Fleckenstein 209; Blake Morris 195.


The class resumed with Bill Holt leading song on page 112. Chairman George Seiler introduced Joyce Walton, teacher of the singing school. He told the class just how lucky the Garden State Convention has been to have such wonderful singing school teachers: Amanda Denson, Ginny Ely, and now Joyce Walton. Joyce spoke about the 1959 recording that Alan Lomax made that has since been released by New World Records, and how so many people have told her that they’ve been touched by her testimony on that

recording. She said that she wasn’t sure why Mr. Lomax included it, but maybe “he got an inspiration from above that it would give somebody a blessing.” Having heard the class sing, she said, “I can’t teach you how to sing, but I can instill in you a little something [about this music] you might hold onto the rest of your days.” This singing school was about the fine points of leading, and how the leader should get what he or she wants. She stressed the importance of looking people in the eye, and led 436, first at a slow tempo, to demonstrate that the leader should be in charge. She talked about the beauty of the 6-part harmony of Sacred Harp, with men and women doubling the treble and lead parts at the octave. She led the class though the rudiments, stressing the importance of rests: “Running a rest is like running a stop sign.” She then introduced her husband, Jap Walton, and invited him to lead a song. He led 420, which was written by his aunt and uncle in honor of his grandparents. Joyce Walton then led 111b to demonstrate that when there is a da capo chorus, you should always sing it when you sing the shapes. George Seiler then requested that she lead a fuguing tune to demonstrate the way she brings in the parts, so she led 40. She demonstrated that every song should have a cut-off. She led 455

and 454, and told the class about Mark Cagle, Bob Denson, and O.A. Parris, from whom she learned much of what she knows about music—timing, developing a style, and practicing leading in front of a mirror. The final portion of the singing school dealt

with style in leading. She said: “I can make people sing—I love ‘em into it.”

George Seiler thanked Joyce Walton for a wonderful singing school. Ginny Ely spoke of her indebtedness to Joyce Walton as a role model and led 391. Regular singing resumed with the following leaders: Barbara Benary 168; Eric Bean 324; Jean Seiler 299. The class was dismissed after the closing prayer by Karen Snowberg.

Saturday, May 20

On Saturday morning the class reassembled and the session was called to order by Jean Seiler leading song on 31b. Eric Bean led the opening prayer. Leaders: George Seiler 479; Miriam Kilmer 504, Howard Katz 492; Mryka Hall-Beyer 352; Tom Tucker, leading his song “Windgate”; Barbara Swetman 85; Frank Evans 66; Bob Parr 215; Donna Abrahams 532; Bill Holt 268; Betty Hanf with Dennis Leipold 49t; Kelly House 230; Doron Henkin 210; Joe Beasley 245; Ella Wilcox 362b; Paula McGray 383; FB 86; Guy Bankes 535; Joyce Walton 67; Elise Meyer-Bothling 178; Michael Kaye 49b.


The class was called to order by Kacy Pate leading song on page 168. Leaders: Peter Pate 269; Jennifer Hodgdon 31t; John delRe 123b; Marilou Jolly 369; Kyle Greenlee 84; Lynne de Benedette 200; Paul Gauthier 428; David Martin, with Mary Ann Ostrowski and Donna Abrahams 82t; Kat Kincade 480; Richard Schmeidler 474; Brenda Pena 39b; John Daniel delRe and Tommy Hall 276; Alix Baillie 312t; Tom Gibney 501b; Margaret Crowl

361. The memorial lesson began with Ginny Ely remarking on how those missing are still a part of the thread. She then led 122 for those deceased in the past year: Edward Swetman, Sr., Lessie Cates, Lois Green, Helen Ivey Cordell, and Ted Godsey—Alabama; Marion Hennessy—Arizona; Daryl Anderson—California; Jack Chapin, and Mark Ely—Connecticut; Kay Chapin and Neil Chapin—Florida; Mary McCarty—Massachusetts; Knox Britain, Margaret Kelly, and Stephanie Munoz—New York; Dale Redman, Sr.—Texas; Kenton Kilmer—Virginia; Thomas Lutz—Washington. Barbara Swetman honored the sick and shut-in with 452: Iva Findley and Patricia Pate—California; Henry Romanowski, Sr.—Maryland; Roberta Adams and Don Wetherhead—New Jersey; Dorothy Brittain, Karen Dyer and children with cancer everywhere, Nell Serafini, and Melvin Webb—New York; Janet Coleman and her parents, and Michael Chapusett—Pennsylvania; John Snowberg, Dorothy Nussbaum—Wisconsin. Regular singing resumed with the following leaders: Jean Seiler 142; Jap Walton 45t; Molly Sayvetz 280; Tim Slattery 497; Susan Bingham 34b; Bob Hall 542. Dan Hertzler led the class in a blessing.


The afternoon session was called to order by Paula McGray leading song on page 87. Leaders: Eric Bean 70b; Gina Balestracci 198; Blake Morris 290; Ruth von Fleckenstein 358; Gerry Hoffman, leading his song “Altamont”; Denise Morris 156; Bradford West 410t; Miriam Kilmer 378b; Dennis Leipold 378t; Linda Thomas 503; Roland Hutchinson 36t; Karen Snowberg 250. Jean Seiler led “Garden State” by P. Dan Brittain and then called for the state count. The 138 singers came from 11 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada: New Jersey, 55; New York, 30 (t? b?); Connecticut, 2; Massachusetts, 10; Vermont, 1; Pennsylvania, 11; Maryland, 3; Virginia, 17; District of Columbia, 2; Alabama, 3;

Michigan, 1; California, 2; Quebec, 1. Jean Seiler then led “Montclair” by Bruce Randall. “Montclair” and “Garden State” were written for the first two Garden State Conventions.


Donna Abrahams brought the class together leading song on page 315. Leaders: Dan Hertzler 566; Mryka Hall-Beyer 236; Howard Katz 475; Marilyn Estep 547; Tom Tucker 48t; Ginny Ely 454; Tom Gibney 40; Barbara Swetman 106; Frank Evans 300; Donna Abrahams 528; George and Jean Seiler 146; Kelly House 456; Bob Parr 304; Betty Hanf and Mary Ann Ostrowski 63; Bill Holt 419; Doron Henkin 47b; Paula McGray 414; Guy Bankes 481. The Resolutions Committee presented their report, in which they thanked all the officers and committees whose efforts contributed to the success of the convention. Paula McGray and Ella Wilcox closed their report with a prayer of thanksgiving. Leaders: Ella Wilcox 91; FB 313b; Joe Beasley 218; Kacy Pate 186; Peter Pate 415; Elise Meyer-Bothling 59; Michael Kaye, assisted by Donna Abrahams 143; Joyce Walton 147t. Jean and George Seiler led 62 as those present took the parting hand. Eric Bean closed the convention with prayer.

Co-Chairmen: Jean and George Seiler; Secretary, Gina Balestracci.