The Virginians (also known as the Richmond Virginians) is a barbershop chorus located in Richmond, Virginia. Mike Wallen is currently its musical director, and has been serving in this capacity since 1998. It recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and is one of the oldest continuous singing groups in the Greater Richmond Area. Originally chartered in 1952 as the Tobaccoland Chorus, the chapter was renamed to the Virginians, in 1990.
The Virginians competed at the 2000 Barbershop Harmony Society International Competition, held at Kansas City, Missouri, numbering 100 on stage. That same year, it sponsored a major benefit performance (featuring the Richmond Symphony Orchestra) for the WRVA "Alden Aaroe Shoe Fund" at the Landmark Theater. The Virginians chorus was recently selected to participate at the seventh annual Russian Barbershop Music Festival with Greg Lyne, held in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The active members of the chorus draw primarily from the city of Richmond, Henrico, Hanover, Chesterfield and eastern Goochland counties. Some members come from as far away as Charlottesville and the Northern Neck, with a strong contingent from the Williamsburg area.
Annual performances typically include:
Spring Show, which usually has a theme and a guest quartet or performing group,
Williamsburg Community Show,
Dogwood Dell Show (outdoor performance),
The Virginians chorus participates in numerous community appearances with diverse shows that may include performances by its registered chapter quartets. One of its biggest fundraisers is an annual Singing Valentines program.
Most of its repertoire is made up of barbershop arrangements, but the Virginians also sing in other a cappella styles.
The Virginians chorus is the principal performing group from the Richmond chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society (based in Nashville) a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity. It is partially supported by the Arts Council of Richmond.
In addition, the Virginians Ensemble is a daytime chorus (a subset of Richmond chapter members who can perform during the work day) that is very active in the community.
Originally "organized in the Fall of 1945" with 24 members of local quartets, the Richmond affiliate of SPEBSQSA received its official charter from the society on December 6, 1952 with "almost 40 members". Its Charter Party was attended by "approximately 150 persons". Dean Snyder from SPEBSQSA (and founding member of the Alexandria Harmonizers), presided at the ceremony to hand the charter to then chapter president, Dr. Ralph M. Roberts.
The Richmond affiliate started proceedings to get an official SPEBSQSA charter in September 1952 and open up its membership to men who wanted to sing in an ensemble chorus. Previously, the group had been entirely made up of barbershop quartets.
Their Blue Skies album was recorded live at the University of Richmond's Modlin Center for the Performing Arts (Camp Theater)., Blue Skies was released in April 2008.
Past musical directors include Brian Whitehead, Jim Garber, Hardman Jones, Buddy Johns, John Glass, Hardman Jones, John Hohl, Charlie Bechtler and Gary Parker. Currently the director is Mike Wallen.