Meet Our Director, Merle Savage
Merle has been a barbershopper since 1980, having been a member of the Windom MN, Sheldon IA, Worthington MN, and Rochester Chapters and has sung in quartets in each chapter. He's been involved with the Rochester Music Men and various quartets for over 25 years now. Merle's previous Rochester quartet experience includes comedy quartets "The National Pastime" and "The Totally Uncalled Four." One of his favorite barbershop experiences occurred when he sang with Todd in the barbershop quartet in the Rochester Civic Theatre's production of The Music Man. Merle is the Director of the Music Men, a Music Educator the Greater Rochester Area, spent many years in the Public Schools in Rochester, taught recently in Kasson-Mantorville, Lyle, Triton, and is very active in the Music Ministry at Bethel Lutheran as well as serving as Bethel’s Associate Music Director. He loves to sing with his quartet whenever he can, including "National Anthem" appearances and the popular Singing Valentines fundraiser for the chorus. Merle's lovely wife is a NICU nurse at St. Mary's. They have three adult sons, a daughter, daughter-in-law, two grandsons, and a granddaughter.
2021-Board of Directors
President: Dick Donze
Music Vice President: Michael Clausen
Membership Vice President: Del Ryberg
Marketing/Public Relations Vice President: John D-Dixon
Secretary: Vern Dockter
Treasurer: Jill Wellik
Board Member at Large: Todd Mueller
Immediate Past President: Dave Ferdon
Chorus Director: Merle Savage
Assistant Chorus Director: Chris Ramage
Please contact any of our Board Members with any questions or concerns
Who are the Rochester Barbershop Chorus?
The Rochester Music Men is the chorus name of the Rochester, Minnesota, chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, the largest all-male singing organization in the world. The chorus was formed in 1959 as a few men interested in singing barbershop music organized and then, in 1961, chartered a new chorus chapter in the barbershop society, then known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA). The chorus was originally known as "The Medicine Men," after the fact that the city of Rochester is home to the world-renowned Mayo clinic.
The chorus participates in the chorus contests held each Spring and Fall, singing a two-song package for a panel of judges. Three categories are judged in these contests: Music, Singing and Presentation. In the spring of 2006 and 2007, we won first place medals in our chorus plateau size. Our scores entitled us to participate in the Land O' Lakes District Chorus contest held each year in October with the District Convention.
WHAT IS BARBERSHOP SINGING?
Barbershop Harmony is a style of singing which builds "natural” harmonies around a recognizable melody. By “natural" harmonies we mean those sounds most people feel when they hear a melody like “Let Me Call You Sweetheart" or "My Wild Irish Rose.” Barbershop is sung without accompaniment. We do not use a piano, guitar or other instrument. A pitch pipe is used to establish the key. The pitch pipe is true scale - not tempered.
The voice parts are: Tenor, Lead, Baritone and Bass
The melody is sung consistently by the Lead
The Tenor harmonizes above the Lead (unique in choral singing)
The Bass sings the lowest harmony
The Baritone completes the chord singing either above or below the melody line.
When sung exactly in tune the chords generate overtones. An overtone makes the chord sound fuller by creating notes above the harmony note.
The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA) was founded in 1938 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 2004 the name was shortened and is now The Barbershop Harmony Society. It is the largest organized all male singing Society in the world, currently with 26,000 members throughout the United States and Canada. In addition there are affiliate organizations in England, Norway, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand and Australia.
It is preferred we call the Society simply "The Barbershop Harmony Society". The letters (SPEBSQSA) are NOT to be used as an acronym, name, or pronounced as a name.
The Society is divided into 17 Districts. We are located in the LAND O'LAKES DISTRICT which includes the area of Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and the Canadian Provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. There are about 50 Chapters and 1,800 members in our District. The LO’L District is further divided into 5 Divisions. They are: Division One, Packerland, Southwest, 10,000 Lakes and Northern Plains. The Rochester Chapter is in the Southwest Division which includes all of southern Minnesota from South Dakota line east to a north/south line at Tomah, WI.
The Society Headquarters is in Nashville, Tennessee where a full time staff of about 30 people work. Appropriately named "Harmony Hall", the staff maintains contact with all the Chapters and members and provides the following:
Music in authentic Barbershop style arrangements
Clears all music through ASCAP/BMI/CAPAC
Over 600 published arrangements available for purchase
Recordings on tape cassette, CD of International Quartets and Choruses.
Song learning tapes - part predominant
Training schools and manuals for Chapter Leadership
Educational programs for individuals
Harmony College and Directors College
Conduct the International Chorus and Quartet Contests