A Brief History of The Bull Run Troubadours

The First Decade, 1957-1967

They met in Don Brumbeck’s store, singing and dreaming for more than a year before they were able to get the quorum of 24 required by SPEBSQSA. The charter was signed April 23, 1957, and presented on May 27, 1957, in Kenosha and the Manassan-aires was now officially organized.

The first decade (1957-1967) involved a continual search for new singers. An early high point came with the charter night show, June 1, 1957, which featured The Fairfax Jubil-aires, which was the sponsoring chapter. They brought a rousing show onto the stage at Osbourn High School. The headline guest quartet was The Forefathers. This show featured the chapter’s first organized quartet, The Foregones, with Don Brumbeck, Gene Connors, Harry Garber and Ed Altman. A ladies quartet, The Blu-notes, included Patsy Altman, Elsie Brumbeck, Joy Garber, and Marie Caton.

The Second Decade, 1967-1977

During the first twenty years, the chapter grew slowly. Most years found a small but devoted core of about thirty singers. Meetings moved from Brumbeck’s to the Prince William Co-op Building on Centerville Road, to People’s National Bank, to Osbourn High School, to the New Coop Building in Westgate to Parkside Elementary School, and to Dean Middle School. Since 1986 or 1987, the chapter has been meeting at Trinity Episcopal Church but is going to move to Covenant Presbyterian Church on Hoadly Road very soon.

During this time of definition, one success that stands out is the growth in the number of good chapter quartets. Home Town Sound included the warm resonance of Bob Beahm while Bull Run Four spotlighted Glenn Dockery and Al Elkins. The Old Favorites had Glenn Williamson. Several times, the chapter has had five active quartets, as it does today.

The Third Decade, 1977-1987

It was during the third decade, from 1977 to 1987, that the chapter reached another high point. In 1982, the chapter changed its chorus name to The Bull Run Troubadours. The first chorus name had been chosen because it echoed the name of the sponsoring organization, The Jubil-aires. It was time to reflect all of Prince William County as well as the town of Manassas.

Troubadour families often went beyond psychological support. They have sewn vests and baked endless cookies for show sales. Often they have worked the Pizza Booth at the Prince William County Fair to provide operating money for the coming year quietly until the next year. But when the kids organize, that’s something extra special. In 1973, ten girls, whose fathers were Troubadours, decided to give their fathers a treat. In the fall, they began meeting at one of their houses while their fathers practiced nearby. An eleventh girl “adopted” the director as her father so she could join the fun.

They had to learn barbershop techniques and they needed to master chords seldom heard in a high school choir. They also added a bit of choreography before suprising their fathers. They were good. The show that year had a riverboat theme, and the girls were asked to join their fathers in Victorian costumes on stage. Five of the eleven graduated that June, breaking up the gang, but one of the founders, Charlotte Beahm, married barbershopper Cubby Bear. The girls were: Martha Beahm, Lorraine Kline, Dianne Hoke, Cheryl Flory, Sue Wilburn, Bonnie Kline, Charlotte Beahm, Janice Beahm, April Adams, Donna Hoke, Pam Flory, Linda Wood, and Sharron Wood.

Several top quartets sang on Troubadours’ annual shows. These included Oriole Four, Bluegrass Student Union, and Fred, all of which were or became International Gold Medalists. Several guest quartets placed high in competition including BSQ, NoVa Chords, B&O Connection, and the comedy quartets OK 4, Friendship Fire Company, and 50% Off.

By 1982, the Troubadours put 43 singers on the risers under the direction of Al Butler to win the Intermediate level of the Southern Division’s chorus contest and go on to the district contest in Philadelphia.

The chapter’s quartets kept up with the growth of the chapter’s status. The original Bull Run Four included Al Elkins, Denzil Elkins, Chad Edwards and Mickey Irvin. During this period of change, Glenn Dockery and Jim Bryant jumped in, bringing the quartet to a new sound. Later, Cubby Bear and Glenn Dockery modified this quartet’s distinctive sound again. The Zip Chords, with Bob Beahm, Charlie Bear, Byron Hoke, and Roy Catt, also continued with a new sound when John Woods took over from Charlie Bear. The annual shows relied heavily upon this fine quartets.

The Fourth Decade, 1987-1997

The 1987-1997 decade brought continued success. Under the direction of Bill Gaut in 1991, the Troubadours won the Southern Division’s Small Chorus contest in Roanoke, Virginia. In 1997, under director Bill Colosimo, the Troubadours placed second in the District contest in Ocean City. Bill Colosimo was ably supported by Assistant Directors Paul Hanover and Bob Linton. Paul was responsible for the first two recordings of the Troubadours and Bob, who also served as the Tenor Section leader, helped arrange for the Trinity Episcopal Church to be the practice home for the Troubadours for many years. Paul Strickland, Baritone, was a stalwart member who contributed with his music theory and craft presentations. In 1993, the chorus became the first to host the Southern Division competition in Reston, VA, and the only chorus to host a joint contest with the Mason-Dixon Division. In all, the Troubadours have hosted the Southern Division Competition four times: twice in Manassas, and twice in Reston.

The Fifth Decade, 1997-2007

In 2001, the Troubadours were recognized as the most improved chorus in the Southern Division contest and were invited to sing in the M-AD District contest in Wildwoods, NJ.

During the past decade, 1997-2007, the chorus changed directors again. Glenn Williamson took over from Bill Colosimo. Glenn had earned an International Gold medal during his affiliation with the Alexandria Harmonizers. Glen brought a strong voice with an amazing range. He could sing all four parts as needed. Glenn also loves tag singing and can be heard all night singing tags at any barbershop function. In 2000, under Glenn’s direction, the Troubadours were again the Most Improved Chorus.

Beginning in 2000, the Troubadours recognized the need for Associate Directors and appointed Bill White as such. Unfortunately, Bill is no longer with us, but Allen Elkins, and Rex Jamieson fill in as needed and work with the chorus regularly on certain songs.

Looking Ahead

We are proud of our over fifty years’ service to the Prince William community. We look forward to continuing this tradition through pursuing our formal mission as follows:

  • Promote membership growth and retention
  • Promote public awareness of barbershop harmony through quality performances in the community
  • Help improve individual and chorus singing and performance
  • Encourage quartet development
  • Have fun and promote fellowship within the Chapter