Notables gather In Avalon

Notables in Avalon – photo courtesy of Mr. Mark Hightower

Haverford’s premier vocal ensemble, the Notables, began their year with an August weekend retreat in Avalon, New Jersey. The group has been long revered for its members’ abilities to refine their voices. Able to sing music of great complexity and vocal range, the Notables’ repertoire entails a capella music from around the world.

     “The main goal of the Notables annual summer retreat is first and foremost to get to know everyone in the group and to set into stone the group’s dynamic for the year,” Sixth Form Notables President Pearse Glavin said.

     During the retreat, the Notables stayed in houses belonging to two members of the group. Spending so much time together, group members were able to strengthen friendships.

     “It helps everybody get to know each other and develop a good sense of camaraderie among the group,” Fourth Former Damian Ferraro said.

     Fourth Form member Caleb Cavazos said, “Not many a capella groups are as close as the Notables.”

     Both rehearsals and free time also helped the Notables to improve and become closer. The group also prepared for a final performance at the end of the weekend.

     The first two days consisted of sectional rehearsals for each part of the ensemble (Tenor 1, Tenor 2, etc.). After each section rehearsed, an entire group rehearsal took place. Then, the Notables went to the beach and out for meals. 

Notables on the the beach in Avalon – photo courtesy of Mr. Mark Hightower

     On Saturday, the group began to advertise for their performance. They went to a local ice cream parlor and previewed parts of their solos to the customers. 

     After two days of rehearsals and advertising, the Notables performed two services at Wells Memorial Church in Avalon on Sunday, August 25. The church allowed the Notables to be a part of the worship as they sang three songs at different points in the service. 

     The group began by singing “Precious Lord,” which has come to be the Notables’ anthem. The song is a tribute to Mr. Michael Stairs, who passed away in August 2018. Mr. Stairs was the former organist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the founder of the Notables. 

     They sang the religious song “Steal Away” next and concluded with the “The Animals,” an upbeat song referring to the animals in Noah’s Ark. 

“I’d say the guys did very well, and it is a promising glimpse of what is to come this year.”

Notable President Pearse Glavin ’20

     Upper School music director Mr. Mark Hightower said, “The week prior, a woman unexpectedly passed away who had been a staple of the church. She even hosted the Notables in years past. The Notables’ performance of songs like “Precious Lord” or “Steal Away,” that deal with loss of life, helped heal those who are hurting. This to me is the most important impact that we can make, although there is obviously a social element on a more fun note regarding the boys being in town together.” 

     “The performances went very well, considering we only had two days to practice and then we were placed in front of 150-200 people to sing,” Glavin said. “I’d say the guys did very well, and it is a promising glimpse of what is to come this year.”

Author: Ryan Rodack '22

Ryan serves as an Editor-in-Chief for and is in his fourth year working for The Index. He previously served as the arts section editor and a managing editor. In the spring of 2021, Ryan earned recognition from the Scholastic Writing Awards for for his piece features piece, “Mr. Andrén pursues his dream job.” Ryan most frequently covers the sports, features, and news sections in his writing.