More than voices are in harmony when it comes to Buffalo Grove’s Encore group. Representatives from the group, which was named the this week, say that the award is more of a reflection of teamwork and community support than it is a celebration of their vocal talents.
“We’re very excited. We’re all thrilled, needless to say,” Linda Rosen, the group’s director, said.
“In my heart, I don’t believe it was a vocal competition. That probably doesn’t sound like the right thing to say as a music educator, but it was, ‘What can we do for the community?’”
Rosen, a music teacher at , taught all three of Lauri and Scott Bauer’s sons. When Encore members learned about the Sing competition, which required them to identify a charity to benefit from their efforts, the foundation, which was formed after Bauer’s sudden death early this year, was an easy choice, Rosen said.
“We wanted to do something locally because we felt we could have the most impact locally,” she said. “We wanted people to buy into it.”
Buy into it, Buffalo Grove did.
Rosen said drumming up support was “trial by fire” for Encore, which found support from the business community and residents. The group placed flyers on pizza boxes, spread the word through Facebook and by word of mouth in its efforts to obtain the votes needed to win the grant.
Support was overwhelming, said Rosen, who noted that when she stopped in for an appointment, offered to promote the group in its office. Similar support was found across the village.
“Somebody I didn’t even know came up to me and said, ‘I used to play tennis with Lauri Bauer, and this means so much to me,’” she said.
“To be in on the ground floor, to be able to give this seed money, I can’t tell you what a full heart we’re walking around with,” she said.
Scott Bauer, who leads the foundation, echoed those sentiments.
“Obviously, I’m very humbled,” he said. “I think the greatest part of this whole process, whether we won or not, was the community awareness that was presented.”
“The support of the community was unreal,” Bauer said, and extended well beyond Buffalo Grove. “Kids in college that are friends with my kids; we had people in Sweden voting,” he said.
The grant, which is the largest contribution the foundation has received from a single source, will allow the foundation to expand its school outreach program, Bauer said.
“There’s a great need for what we do,” he said. “We’ll get out to a lot more schools quicker than we had hoped for.”
The foundation has already offered workshops at local schools, including sessions for teachers, he said.
The funds will also support the Lauri Bauer/Barr-Harris Grief Center, which opened Nov. 1 in Deerfield. The center staffs therapists who provide support to grieving children.
Encore, which performed three songs in September in Deer Park, began practicing in April for the competition, with singers devoting themselves to one or two extra practices each week, Rosen said.
It was the first time the group had ever competed, and the schedule was a demanding one, she said. While the group most likely won’t jump into another competition for the sake of collecting awards, “I think if we had the chance to do it for another charity, we’d snap at the chance to do it,” Rosen said.
Steven Schneider, an Encore member who performed a solo of Emmy Award-winning singer/songwriter Kevin Briody’s “Be Still,” agreed.
“It was definitely worth the time we put in,” he said. “It’s rewarding for us and for the charity that we were trying to raise money for.”
“It means a lot to me,” he added, “but it’s a group thing, so I’m more happy for the group.”
The award of $5,000 in gift cards to Deer Park Mall is almost an afterthought for the group, said Rosen, who thinks the money will most likely be spent at stores like Bose or Apple, to purchase equipment for the Encore program.
“Nobody’s going to dinner or anything on them,” she said.
Rosen said she’s also looking forward to meeting with Briody, an opportunity that is part of Encore’s prize package. Briody will be on hand when Encore is formally presented with its award next month, she said.
As Encore members celebrate their win, they are also preparing for a slew of holiday concerts. The group will perform at 2 p.m. Nov. 27 at the Freemont Library in Mundelein, at 2 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Prospect Heights Library, at 2 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Morton Grove Library, as well as at a few private events during the next few weeks.