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June 22, 2004


Three noted Barbershop Society arrangers, Lou Perry, Val Hicks, and Walter Latzko

One of the most legendary of barbershoppers, Dr. Val Hicks, died Monday evening in Salt Lake City. Val became a Society member in 1952 and received his early barbershop training in Salt Lake City with the Beehive Statesmen chorus. While he worked on his masters degree at the University of California, Val coached and arranged for the Osmond Brothers on the Andy Williams Show, the Clinger Sisters on the Danny Kaye Show, and the Larry Hooper Quartet on the Lawrence Welk Show. In addition, he was coaching and arranging for the Dapper Dans of Disneyland.

His coaching and arrangements helped the Evans Quartet (1960) and the Gala Lads (1962) win their international championships. Additionally, his work had a marked influence on the careers of the Western Continentals, the Boston Common (1980), and many other fine quartets and choruses.

Val earned his Ph.D. at the University of Utah in 1971. He taught at California State University for four years and at Santa Rosa Community College for 19 years. He was active in the Young Men in Harmony program as a music advisor and editor; taught arranging in the HEP schools in the 1960s and served on many Society-level committees on category revision, contest rules and the music curriculum for schools and workshops. He was the editor of “Heritage of Harmony,” the 50th anniversary history of the Society; researched the history of male quartets for the Smithsonian Institution; and received a national award from the Music Educators National Conference for his barbershop contributions to music education.

“The Star Spangled Banner” is his most frequently performed arrangement; the oldest and most enduring is “Love’s Old Sweet Song”; the most complex is “This Little Light of Mine”; and the simplest was the verse to “Shine On Me.” Val has composed 80 songs with the best, in his opinion, being “That Summer When We Were Young.”

Val said, "Barbershop can be loud, out of tune (with certain voices grating and dominating), with corny lyrics, trite melodies and silly interpretations, or it can be beautifully crafted, wonderfully in tune and performed with exciting vocal artistry worthy of any audience in the world. It's your choice."

Posted by acapnews at June 22, 2004 9:46 PM


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