SARATOGA SPRINGS — A typical Valentine’s Day gift list includes some flowers, a box of chocolates, maybe even a teddy bear … but what about a serenade by a quartet?
This Valentine’s Day season, Racing City Chorus, a Saratoga Springs-based men’s a cappella barbershop chorus, invited individuals from the Capital Region to join the group’s quartet and learn a love song to sing to their loved one for Valentine’s Day.
“Anybody can go online and order a dozen roses to be delivered, anyone can pick up a box of chocolates at CVS or something,” said long-time chorus member Rusty Senecal. “This took initiative, effort, time.”
Participants learned a one-minute arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” which they then sang alongside or as part of the quartet to video record and show to their loved one on Valentine’s Day. The entire process was free and open to everybody regardless of ability or past singing experience.
“[The participants] seem to put their heart into it,” said John Senecal, the chorus’s vice president of marketing. “The amazing part is that they realize that they can do it, they have the ability to do it.”
But this is not the first year that the Racing City Chorus has offered this service. According to Senecal, the chorus had done Valentine’s in-person serenades at businesses, restaurants and homes for several years until they were forced to stop due to COVID-19. Though its format is different now, this is the first year since the beginning of the pandemic that the chorus has offered the singing valentines.
“This was kind of an innovative way to get back into it,” said Rusty Senecal.
Phillip Hatfield from Jamestown has been dating his girlfriend, Kellie, for only a couple of months, but that did not stop him from wanting to make a grand Valentine’s Day gesture.
Hatfield, who has some past singing experience, had just joined the chorus when the announcement for the service was made, and he jumped on the opportunity.
“It seemed like a really good opportunity to do a nice recording,” Hatfield said. “Of course, I would do this for her … she’s really worth it.”
In order to prepare for the recording, Hatfield had to attend two 60-minute rehearsals with the quartet. Because he was already going to regular chorus rehearsals, it was not too difficult for him to hide the endeavor from Kellie.
“I hope it’ll be quite a big surprise for her,” Hatfield said. “It’s nice to be able to put something small like this together for someone you really care about.”
The Racing City Chorus hopes that these singing valentines will not only help to make someone’s Valentine’s Day special but will also help the chorus to grow.
“Trying to get name recognition is very important for us,” said John Senecal, stressing that anyone, regardless of musical experience or ability, can join. “We are a very welcoming group.”
Anyone interested in becoming involved with the Racing City Chorus can visit racingcitychorus.org.