- Associated Press - Monday, February 13, 2017

HYANNIS, Mass. (AP) - You could think of these guys as the superheroes of romance - a quartet of harmonizing Cupids that you can hire to profess your love this Valentine’s Day.

The Cape Cod Surftones will once again provide barbershop quartets to perform singing Valentines - think “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” - and raise money for the Capewide men’s a cappella chorus.

“We love it when they cry, and they often do,” says baritone Robb Topolski of Yarmouth, a member of the quartet that will deliver singing Valentines in the Mid-Cape area. Two other quartets will be available to sing on the Lower and Upper Cape.

“Sometimes the person receiving the Valentine is not the most moved,” Topolski says. “We often see people around them reacting. Sometimes it’s the couple in the second row two tables to the right that is choking up.”

The Surftones will go to offices, restaurants, stores or homes to surprise sweethearts, so long as the person buying the experience clears it with the venue ahead of time.

It’s good to pick your spot: Harwich resident Lou Skinner, a tenor who sings lead, remembers performing outside an operating room in a Connecticut hospital for an exiting surgeon still in scrubs. “He was quite put out by his wife’s gesture,” Skinner says.

“When we start singing, it’s loud, which makes it a very public thing,” he says.

It starts with a tone from the pitch pipe. Then the quartet’s lead begins to sing, followed by each of the other voices coming in until the combined sound is more than the sum of the individual voices.

“The key to this is each guy always listening to the other guys so no one voice is dominant,” says David Anthony, who joined the Cape Cod Surftones a year or so after his son became president of the 32-member chorus. The leadership role was a natural extension for Dan Anthony, who was in a music fraternity at University of Massachusetts Amherst and is now a music teacher at Pope John Paul II High School and St. Francis Xavier Preparatory School in Hyannis.

Dan Anthony says that in high school he sang in a “pick-up quartet,” which really is at the heart of barbershop singing.

According to a history from the A Cappella Foundation, the barbershop style of music “is first associated with black Southern quartets of the 1870s, such as the American Four and the Hamtown Students. The African influence is particularly notable in the improvisational nature of the harmonization, and the flexing of melody to produce harmonies.


Information from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, https://www.capecodtimes.com

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