Over the past 45 years, the Desert Aires Barbershop Chorus has had many leaders as officers on the chapter’s board of directors. It has also had some excellent chorus directors, including its current music leader, Cary Burns, who has 31 years of experience in barbershop music.
The current president, Howard Donley, says he is one of the finest he has ever known.
Donley, who was instrumental in securing Burns’ professional talent, has himself been a barbershopper 52 years, during which time he and his wife have sung in mixed quartets for 38 of those years. He has also sung with seven other choruses. Born and raised in Cody, WY, Donley is a retired geo-technical engineer whose higher education to this profession came from the University of Wyoming and Montana State University.
Burns began directing the Desert Aires Barbershop Chorus in January 2019, sharing his wealth of music knowledge, enthusiasm and love of music. He has been the director of the Tempe Community Chorus since 1998. Other musical experience includes coaching and directing jazz choirs, pop choirs, a’cappella ensembles, as well as giving voice training to all ages and abilities.
This multi-talented director is also a music arranger and music contest judge for the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) and for Harmony, Inc., a women’s barbershop organization. He has directed a women’s a’cappella chorus named the Wicked Pitch of the West.
“When I was presented the opportunity to lead a group of primarily senior citizen men who sing barbershop harmony music, I jumped at the opportunity to apply an almost lost singing style called Bel Canto designed to lower one’s vocal age giving one’s voice new life,” Burns said.
With two outstanding leaders like these men, the Desert Aires will continue to be the Arizona A-Plateau Champions for years to come.
For those men who love to sing, visit desertaires.com.