So, three former members of the once-robust, elite Madrigals choir — Kathy Lazzaro (class of 1966), Anne Colt and Mark Niederman (class of 1967) — decided to do something about it.
In discussions with retired PLHS principal Bobbie Samilson and her successor, Hans Becker, the trio found that many years of sheet music for choirs was known to be stored in a former faculty men’s restroom near Room 462, their former choir room.
Upon investigation, the singers were stunned by what they found. The sheet music collection was in shambles.
When school custodians unlocked the old restroom, the three found dozens of cardboard boxes piled high, a number of file cabinets, piles of loose sheets on tables. The three couldn’t even step into the space at one time.
In a glass-half-full moment, they said they realized how fortunate they were the music had not been discarded.
Minutes later, their plan was born. Knowing a well-organized collection of sheet music would be an enticing lure for any prospective vocal music teacher, the three set about converting chaos to conformity.
Rolling up their sleeves, they went to work, spending the summer in the room,where they rehearsed nearly a half-century ago, creating a catalog of highly organized music.
Working five days a week from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., every piece of music is being organized into file folders, labeled and placed into a selected file cabinet drawer.
Niederman is creating an ever-expanding computer database that includes the genre of music (like popular Broadway show tunes, etc.), the song’s title, number of pages, number of copies, file cabinet and drawer number where the song can be found.
Some songs have 25 copies of the sheet music, others as few as three or four. This will present a minor problem if the song is selected for a concert performance.
When performing public shows, Lazzaro said, every choir member must have a copy of the sheet music to sing from. It is unethical and illegal to copy the music despite its age, so it would be necessary to purchase additional copies of songs (about $2 each) to resolve such shortages.
Some of the music was already in labeled files, but additional copies were found strewn about. While a daunting task, the project remains a labor of love.
Three weeks into July, the group had identified and catalogued more than 1,000 song titles comprising some 270,000 pages of music.
As the alums spoke with a visitor in late July, a rumbling sound was heard coming down the school hallway. The trio broke into smiles, recognizing the sound of more empty, tall metal file cabinets being brought from around campus by the PLHS custodial staff.
“Alex Cardenas (building site supervisor) and his staff have been phenomenal,” said Colt. “They open and close the building for us every day and have adjusted their cleaning schedule to accommodate us. If they find an available file cabinet, they bring it right over.”
The project must be completed by late August, when PLHS staff members return to prepare their classrooms, including Room 462, now occupied by English teacher and Pointer alum Chris Brannen, a classmate of Lazzaro’s.
One fact is guaranteed: the group will finish its work on a happy note.