[UTA Magazine]


At Play: Gil Carrick and Don Granvold
Singing lectures? Maybe not, but these profs have pipes

Listen to the Arlington Goodtimes Chorus in concert, and you get the idea that these guys are professional singers.

Actually, they all have day jobs--like UTA faculty members Gil Carrick and Don Granvold. And some of them may sing a little like, well, college teachers.

"You don't have to be a great singer," says five-year member Carrick, a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. "If you can hit a note, you can sing with us."

Arlington Goodtimes Chorus members Gil Carrick and Don Granvold
Arlington Goodtimes Chorus members Gil Carrick and Don Granvold

The a cappella chorus, in Arlington for 41 years, is a local chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA, Inc.). The music blends lead, tenor, baritone and bass into a four-part-harmony barbershop style. The 59 members range in age from 15 to 80.

Carrick and Granvold met through the chorus. Then they discovered that Granvold taught Carrick's daughter-in-law, Kelli Connell-Carrick, who is now an assistant professor of social work at The University of Texas at El Paso. "We didn't realize we had that connection until we started talking," Dr. Granvold said.

Granvold, an associate dean in the School of Social Work, is in his first year with the group. "The most powerful part of the chorus is how good it is for one's mental health," he explained. "It's a wonderful escape from the stresses and demands of life that we all face."

Likewise, Carrick sings the praises of the camaraderie that the chorus provides. "When I started, I was just looking to sing. Singing is still the most important thing, but the added fellowship was a pleasant surprise."

The Goodtimes Chorus holds major concerts twice a year. Other activities include summer choir fill-in for area churches, participating in the Fourth of July parade and "sing-outs" for civic and public events.

Several members perform in quartets, with the annual "Singing Valentines" being one of the highlights, and many sing at retirement centers. Carrick, a tenor, performs with the quartet Phlabbergas. "We've just been together a few months. And we just recently changed our name. When we performed at the computer science alumni banquet in the spring, our name was Horse Feathers."

Joining Carrick are lead Steve Buenting, bass John Sellers and baritone Dick Kneeland, who has directed the chorus since 1982. Kneeland sang with the Dapper Dans at Disneyland and Disney World for 10 years and worked on the grounds crew at UTA for 12 years before retiring in 1998.

Another UTA connection is Cal Barker, professor emeritus from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Barker has been in the chapter 44 years, singing with the Fort Worth group before coming over to Arlington.

The chorus competes in district and division contests and in 2002 won the Southwestern District Northwest Division Plateau AA. This year's district contest is scheduled for Corpus Christi in October. Division contests are held annually in March.

"We do the contests so that we can get feedback," Carrick said. "Our objective is not necessarily to win, but to just improve ourselves."

Added Granvold: "Our goal is to perform with excellence but not at the expense of having a good time. There is a seriousness about it and people strive to excel, but having fun is what's really important."

Indeed. Bring on those good times.

– Jim Patterson

Online: www.harmonize.com/goodtimes

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