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The PHOENICIANS ... Entertaining Arizona Audiences since 1943

Danny Ryan

Danny RyanDirector, April 2015 to January 2017

Danny started his barbershop career right here in the Greater Phoenix Chapter. He joined the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) at age 11, singing with the Phoenicians. He has competed nine times in the BHS International chorus contest winning a gold medal with the Westminster Chorus in 2007.

Danny started singing in a quartet, After Hours, with his dad, Dan Ryan, Sr., at age 16. He then branched out on his own, continuing to sing baritone with quartets such as, Rhythm & Rhapsody, Legacy, Impact, Xtream and singing lead in a collegiate quartet TAGTEAM, placing 8th in the BHS International College quartet contest. His quartet, Vocal Edition was the 2013-2014 AZ Division Quartet Champions, The 2013 Far Western District Quartet Silver Medalists and the 2014 FWD Bronze Medalists. They also placed 25th at the 2014 BHS International Quartet Contest. His most recent quartet, Suit Up, won the 2015 AZ Division Quartet Championship.

Gary Steinkamp

gary steinkampDirector, 1989 - 1998, 2010 - April 2015

Gary Steinkamp served as Musical Director of the Spirit of Phoenix from January 2010 to April 2015, having served in that same position as Musical Director of the Phoenicians from 1989 to 1998. He has been an active member of the Barbershop Harmony Society since 1968, starting his barbershop career in our chapter.

Gary has been in quartets for many years, and sang tenor with the Far Western District Champion quartet, Finale, and international medalist quartet, Standing Room Only, as well as the legendary Music Appreciation 101 along with his father Lloyd.

He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from Arizona State University in 1976. For several years after that he taught at the high school and elementary levels in the Phoenix Area.

Gary served on the Board of Directors and was Assistant Director of the Phoenicians for 17 years before becoming Musical Director in 1989. He later became the co-director of the Pride of Phoenix chorus, which later merged with the Phoenicians to become the Spirit of Phoenix. Additionally, he served on the Society's Future II Committee, was a member of the Far Western District Director's Guild, was a long-time member of the Harmony College faculty, was a Certified Judge in the Presentation Category and continues to coach choruses and quartets all over the world.

Jeff Dolan

jeff dolanInterim Director, August-December 2009

It seems 3-time Grammy nominee Jeff Dolan's middle name must be "Versatile," because he has been singing many different styles and genres of music professionally for many years. Jeff has sung opera, oratorio, operetta, choral work -- including the Phoenix Bach Choir -- vocal jazz, pop music (from Ray Conniff to Christina Aguilera) swing, theater, television, and film. He holds a music degree from Cal State Fullerton.

Jeff has considerable experience as a church music director and, in addition to being and Assistant Director for the Greater Phoenix Chapter's "Spirit of Phoenix" on Tuesday evenings, on Wednesdays he makes the trek south on I-10 as he is also the Musical Director for the Tucson Sunshine Chapter's "Tucson Barbershop Experience" chorus.

Jeff has four children. And speaking of "four," his quartet experience includes the internationally competitive "Dazzle" quartet, and he is currently singing in "Oasis."

Russ Young

russ youngDirector, January 2006 to August 2009
Co-Director, June 2004 to December 2005
Interim Director, January to October 1999

A native of Chicago, Russ grew up in a musical family. It wasn't unusual to spend evenings at home around Mom at the piano and his siblings each on a musical instrument. At that time Russ played the ukulele. And while singing was a part of those sessions, his interest really developed as the result of attending barbershop shows and having a 5th grade class that performed as a choir throughout the community.

Being active in the school band was part of growing up for Russ. Although some theater and sports caught his interest, music was a true love. After being accepted into the pre-med program at the University of Illinois, Russ had his heart set on going into the medical profession for as long as he could remember. However, his high school band director convinced him that he would enjoy music as a career more than the medical profession. It was in his final semester of high school that Russ decided to do just that. He studied at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago and graduated in 1978 with a degree in Music Education.

After finishing college, Russ moved to Arizona, where he began his teaching career in the public school system. His interest in singing was again sparked when a fellow teacher mentioned his involvement with the Scottsdale Copperstatesmen Chorus. Before visiting the chorus, though, Russ formed a quartet with three other teachers, appropriately named "The Schoolmasters." The quartet sang for numerous social and school functions and quickly became a staple at teacher's social functions.

In 1978 Russ visited and then began singing with the Scottsdale Barbershop Chapter. Taking a sabbatical after a year with the chorus to complete his Master's Degree, he returned and became an Assistant under then Director Lloyd Steinkamp. Russ joined the Phoenicians in 1984 and was taken under the wings of Chorus Director Lou Laurel. Russ assumed the Assistant Director role one year later and remained with the chorus until late in 1999. After being named as a Director of the Pride of Phoenix Chorus in 2000, he continued in that capacity when that chorus merged with the Phoenicians to form the Spirit of Phoenix Chorus.

As a member of the Far Western District Chorus Director's Guild, Russ served as a Board Member as well as on the faculty for several Director Seminars sponsored by the Guild. In addition, he serves as a faculty member for schools in other districts across the Society including Harmony University/Director's University, Harmony College East, West and Northwest. Russ continues to serve as a coach for numerous choruses and quartet through the Barbershop Society, Sweet Adelines International and Harmony Incorporated. His involvement as a judge, coach, director and clinician has earned him the respect of affiliate organizations in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand as well as throughout the United States and Canada where he frequently serves in such capacities. Russ just recently retired as a member of the International Contest & Judging Committee where he served as the Singing Category Specialist.

Quartetting is nothing new to Russ. His most recent quartet, "Applause!" placed as high as 12th at International. But you may better know him as the baritone of the four-time medallist quartet, "Standing Room Only." Although he is not currently involved with a quartet, he claims there's something in the works.

Russ continued teaching high school choral music until 1999. Following a 4-year administrative assignment, he missed teaching and decided to return to the classroom. This year marks his 31st year in that school system as the Director of Educational Television and Television/Video Production Teacher.

Russ and his wife Wendi live in Mesa. Russ' stepson, Jeremy, is married and has two sons.

Fraser Brown

fraser brownDirector, April 2003 - June 2004
Co-Director, June 2004 - December 2005
Assistant Director, January 2006 - August 2008

Fraser has been a member of The Barbershop Harmony Society for over four decades. He has sung in numerous top quartets, including "Remember When," "Standing Room Only," "Applause!," "Broadway," "Dazzle," and currently is the Baritone with "Audacity." He currently has the unique distinction of more consecutive appearances in a quartet on the international competition stage than any member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, and has earned several medals in competition.

He has been an active member of the chorus, as a singer, arranger, coach, associate director, and member of the Music Leadership Team since 1972.

Canadian-born, Fraser earned his Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from Arizona State University in 1967. He is currently an associate choir director and soloist at Chaparral Christian Church in Scottsdale.

Jim Casey

jim caseyDirector, November 1999 - April 2003

Jim Casey, (d. 5-May-2007) internationally noted vocal coach, director of award-winning choral groups, soloist and three-time district quartet champion, was musical director of the Phoenicians Chorus from November 1999 to April 2003.

A native Texan, he was a Phoenicians vocal coach for many years before becomming their Director. In his musical career he has directed scholastic and barbershop choruses, worked for a year as a music and quartet development specialist for the international barbershop harmony society (SPEBSQSA), and sang in three Southwestern District championship barbershop quartets. Scholastic choruses that he directed won numerous state awards during his 17 years as a high school choral director.

He has coached a number of men's and women's quartets and choruses, including several international champions, in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Among those are the three most recent men's international championship quartets: FRED, Revival, and Platinum. He also is a frequent coach at SPEBSQSA and Sweet Adelines International vocal training schools.

As an accomplished vocalist, he has been a soloist with the Dallas Civic Chorus, Dallas Vocal Arts Ensemble, and Texas Music Educators Association Regional Choirs, among others. Casey has a music educator's degree from Sam Houston State University and has done graduate work at Texas Tech University.

Lou Laurel

lou laurelDirector 1966 - 1989

Lou Laurel (1918-1997) led the Phoenicians to 11 Far Western District Championships in as many tries, and to three International Championships. Prior to moving to Phoenix, he directed the El Paso, Texas "Border Chorders" to the Southwest District Championship and on to the International Championship. Lou was the first director in the Society to direct two different choruses to the gold medal. An outstanding quartet man, he was baritone of Desertaires quartet, who made it to the Top Ten in international competition.

Among his numerous credits are Phoenicians Barbershopper of the Year (1969), Chapter President (El Paso), Southwest District President, International President, quartet and chorus coach, Certified Judge in the Interpretation Category, and inductee into both the Southwest and Far Western District Halls of Fame.

Lou's contributions to the Phoenicians are beyond anyone's wildest expectations, turning rags to riches and molding an also-ran chorus into a world champion. He taught us how to sing, how to entertain, and how to make music. More importantly though, he taught us how to laugh, and how to love, and empowered us with a commitment to hard work, mutual trust, and graciousness that are the ingredients for "The Making of a Champion".

Glenn Wallace

Interim Director, 1966

Glenn served as Interim Director during the director search process that ensued after Lloyd Steinkamp moved away from the Phoenix area, and was eventually replaced when the results of that search brought Lou Laurel to lead the chapter.

Lloyd Steinkamp

lloyd steinkampDirector 1963 - 1966

Lloyd Steinkamp, (d. 02-Jan-2007) past director of the Phoenicians, is many things to many people. To some, he is known as arranger par excellence, to others, he is a great quartet man. Many consider him one of the Society's outstanding Emcees, while others herald him as the founding father of many SPEBSQSA chapters all over the United States when he was a Society Field Representative. To some, he is the chorus director who teaches and leads with wit, humor and that certain "sparkle," while others know him as quartet coach and friend to many foursomes, near and far, who want to sing and entertain better. But to me, he's the guy who sings in the shower, applauds himself, and takes out the garbage!

-- Judy Steinkamp

Charlie Rastatter

chuck rastatterDirector, 1962 - 1963

Charlie Rastatter, past director, was also the original bass of the "Desert Knights" quartet. One night, while sitting in an airport bar on return from a show in California, Charlie remarked to Sam Aramian -- then president of the chapter -- that for two cents he would resign as director. Sam gave him two cents, and immediately named Lloyd Steinkamp the new director.

-- Joe Salz

Gene Hall

Director 1961 - 1962

No further information is available.

Vernon McDade

Director 1958 - 1961

No further information is available.

Bill Miller

Director, 1952 - 1958

No further information is available.

George "Tiny" Pranspill

tiny pranspillDirector, 1948 - 1951

George Otto "Tiny" Pranspill was a member of the Phoenix Chapter for 59 years. Although he joined the chapter in its first year, he was not a charter member; in 1943 he was working for the Goodyear Tire Co. west of Phoenix, in what is now Goodyear, Arizona, when he was contacted by a member of the newly formed "Phoenix Saguaro Chapter" about singing in a quartet. George immediately joined the chapter, and was added to the roster when the chapter was only about a month or two old. At the time of his death he was the last remaining member from its first year.

He became the chapter's first Chorus Director when the "Phoenix Chapter Chorus" was formed in June 1948. Of course in those days choruses did not have the same emphasis as they do today; it was all about quartets back then, and the "chorus" was where the quartet men all joined together in song. Nonetheless the chapter needed a musical leader, and "Tiny" was the big guy out front for several years.

In addition to directing the chorus, George served the chapter in many ways, including President, Vice President and several other offices; he was a FWD Champion and a Vice President for the Far Western District, and International Vice president for the Society. He was the lead of the 1949 Far Western District Quartet Champion, the "Westernaires" who went on to compete in the Society Summer Contest, now known as "International."

In addition to all of the contributions he made to the foundations of this chapter and our district in its early years, perhaps George's biggest "claim to fame" was his use of a tuning fork (A 440) to take a pitch instead of the more widely used pitch pipe. At the 1950 Summer Contest, when the quartet took the stage, Art Merrill, then Society Treasurer, had this to report: "In Omaha I almost fell off my chair when George Pranspill, lead for the 'Westernaires,' held a tuning fork tp his ear for the pitch for his quartet. I asked him afterward, and he said that he'd been brought up on tuning forks, and found them easy to use. He certainly wielded his with professional ease."

Later, George's career moved him to the east coast, where he lived for many years, and directed several Barbershop and Sweet Adelines choruses, often several at a time. Upon retiring, he moved back to Arizona and settled in Cottonwood where he reamined until his death on August 11, 2002 at the age of 83.

Anyone and Everyone

"Directors," 1943 - 1948

During the early years of the chapter there was no organized chorus. Chapter meetings were where quartet men went to sing and enjoy musical fellowship. Occasionally they would do some "gang singing" together, and someone would step out front and lead the group.

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