SONGS FROM THE HEART: In the three years he has delivered singing valentines as part of a barbershop quartet, Sounds of Concord chorus member Frank Rowe has visited homes, offices, schools, hospitals, retirement communities, restaurants, and factories. At one stop last year, a surprised recipient happened to answer his door while on Skype with his girlfriend, who had arranged for the special delivery.
“The men tend to get a little more embarrassed, but they get into it very quickly,” said Rowe, who lives in North Andover. “It’s just a lot of fun, and very rewarding for us.”
According to Rowe, members of the Sounds of Concord have been delivering singing valentines every Feb. 14 throughout metropolitan Boston for 45 years. For prices starting at $60, a formally dressed quartet will sing two love songs, present a bag of chocolate kisses and a silk rose (or fresh flowers, for an extra fee), and take a photograph of the occasion.
Recipients are often significant others, but have also been parents, grandparents, children, friends, and even bosses. Deliveries are available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The singing valentines are the largest fund-raiser for the nonprofit organization, with the proceeds supporting its musical development, educational outreach, public performances, and competitions. The chorus will be traveling to Toronto for the Barbershop Harmony Society’s international competition in July, after taking first place at the organization’s Northeastern District championships last fall.
New singers are always welcome, with free group voice lessons taught by Steve Tramack of Nashua beginning Feb. 21. Open rehearsals take place every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Emunah, 9 Piper Road in Lexington.
STRANGER THAN FICTION: Several years ago, a friend of Wayland author George Harrar described a note he had received in the mail inviting him to a restaurant at an appointed day and time so he could be repaid for a good deed. When he arrived, he was reunited with a childhood friend to whom he had lent a small amount of money 35 years prior.
At this point, Harrar’s instincts as a writer took over. What would happen, he mused, if a fictional character received a series of anonymous notes ominously hinting at a shared past? And what if they became increasingly menacing over time?
His new novel, “Reunion at Red Paint Bay,” is a psychological thriller about an entirely different kind of payback. It is Harrar’s seventh novel, and his third for adults; the others were written for middle school and young adult audiences.
Harrar (inset below) holds the distinction of having three novels issued by separate publishers for different age groups in 2003: “The Spinning Man” from BlueHen Books for adults; “Not As Crazy As I Seem” from Houghton Mifflin for young adults; and “The Trouble With Jeremy Chance” was issued by Milkweed Editions for readers in the middle grades.
“It’s invigorating for me to write for different age groups, in terms of changing my mind-set and energy level,” Harrar said.
Harrar will read and sign copies of “Reunion at Red Paint Bay” Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Concord Bookshop, 65 Main St.; and on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Wayland Free Public Library, 5 Concord Road. For more information, visit www.georgeharrarbooks.com.
ENGINEERING HONOR: Three founding academic leaders of Olin College of Engineering in Needham have received the Bernard M. Gordon Prize, one of engineering’s highest honors. The $500,000 award from the National Academy of Engineering recognizes Richard Miller of Needham and David and Sherra Kerns of Natick for innovation in engineering and technological education.
Miller was recruited by the F.W. Olin Foundation as the college’s first employee and president in 1999. He recruited the founding academic leadership team, including the Kernses, later that year.
David Kerns, a faculty member at Olin, was founding provost and chief academic officer from 1999 to 2007. Sherra Kearns, also a current faculty member, led initiatives to establish a gender-balanced community and achieve accreditation in her role as founding vice president of innovation and research.
“We literally had the chance to start over in higher education and develop a new paradigm for engineering education, addressing at once all the concerns raised about engineering education at the time,” Miller said.
Olin does not offer tenure, has no academic departments, offers only degrees in engineering, and provides merit-based scholarships to all admitted students. For more information, visit www.olin.edu.
DREAM FUNDING: Melinda Lopez of Bedford will join the Boston-based Huntington Theatre Company in a full-time role as a playwright-in-residence as the result of a $245,000 award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Lopez, who was named to the first class of Huntington Playwriting Fellows in 2003, will begin a three-year residency on July 1.
During her residency, Lopez (inset below) plans to travel to Cuba for research while preparing her play, “Becoming Cuba,” for production, develop two additional plays, and begin work on a third. An accomplished actress who has performed in three Huntington productions, Lopez also teaches theater and performance at Wellesley College and playwriting at Boston University.
To be able to work closely with the ensemble’s artistic director, Peter DuBois, “and the entire Huntington community in a new capacity, and to be funded so I can write full time, is literally a dream come true,” Lopez said.
QUACKING IT UP: Eight local actors are performing in the Boston Children’s Theatre production of “Honk!” running through Feb. 24 at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St.
They are Alec Shiman of Brookline; Ally AqualinaPiscetello of Lexington; Kenley Buchanan, Carly Kastel, and Yarden Yacoby of Newton; Audree Hedequist and Alex Hudepohl of Wellesley; and Deirdre Pedersen of Westborough.
Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling,” the musical describes the journey of a young bird to discover his inner beauty.
For ticket or other information, call 617-424-6634, ext. 222, or visit www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org.