Staff Bios

Russ Young
A native of Chicago, Russ grew up in a musical family. It wasn’t unusual to spend evenings at home around Mom at the piano and his siblings each on a musical instrument. At that time Russ played the ukulele. While singing was a part of those sessions, his interest really developed as the result of attending barbershop shows and having a 5th grade class that performed as a choir throughout the community. Being active in the school band was part of growing up for Russ. Although some theater and sports caught his interest, music was a true love. After being accepted into the pre-med program at the University of Illinois, Champaign, Russ had his heart set on going into the medical profession for as long as he could remember. However, his high school band director convinced him that he would enjoy music as a career more than the medical profession. It was in his final semester of high school that Russ decided to do just that. He studied at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago and graduated in 1978 with a degree in Music Education.

After finishing college, Russ moved to Mesa, Arizona, where he began his teaching career with the Apache Junction Schools. His interest in singing was revived when a fellow teacher mentioned his involvement with the Scottsdale Copperstatesmen Chorus. Before visiting the chorus, though, Russ formed a quartet with three other teachers, appropriately named "The Schoolmasters". The quartet sang for numerous social and school functions and quickly became a staple at teacher’s social functions. In 1978 Russ visited and then began singing with the Scottsdale Chapter. Taking a sabbatical after a year with the chorus to complete his Master’s Degree, he returned to the chorus and became an Assistant Director under Lloyd Steinkamp, Russ joined the Phoenicians in 1984 and, under the wings of then chorus director Lou Laurel, Russ was moved into the Assistant Director position one year later and remained with the chorus until late in 1999.

As a member of the Far Western District Chorus Director’s Guild, Russ served as a Board Member as well as on the faculty for several Director Seminars sponsored by the Guild. In addition, he serves as a faculty member for schools in other districts across the Society including Harmony College/Director’s College, Harmony College East and Northwest. Quartetting is nothing new to Russ. His most recent quartet, "Applause!" placed as high as 12th at International. But you may better know him as the baritone of the four-time medallist quartet, "Standing Room Only". Although he is not currently involved with a quartet, he claims there’s something in the works. Russ also devotes much of his time coaching both men’s and women’s choruses and quartets.

Russ continued teaching high school choral music until 1999. Following a 4-year administrative assignment, he missed teaching and decided to return to the classroom. This year marks his 26th year in that school system. Russ recently retired as the Singing Category Specialist in the Society Contest and Judging Program. He and his wife Wendi live in Mesa. Russ’ stepson, Jeremy, is married and has two sons.

Nick Papageorge received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Choral Conducting from Occidental College and continued his education in Choral Conducting at California State University, Fullerton.  He was fortunate to have studied with world-renown choral conductor, Dr. Howard Swan, at both Occidental and Cal State Fullerton.  He has also received a Masters of Science degree in Online Teaching and Learning from California State University, Hayward. Nick has been teaching Vocal Music and Theater Arts at his high school alma mater, Sonora High School in La Habra, California since 1975.  At Sonora, he conducts a Madrigal Choir, Jazz Choir, and Concert Choir.  He teaches all of the Theatre Arts classes and produces and directs all of the school’s plays and musicals.  He was named Teacher of the Year in 2000, and loves to bring the joy of singing barbershop harmony to his music students.  To round out his workday, he also coaches Varsity Football and Varsity Girls’ Softball.

While at Occidental College, Nick began his life-long hobby of barbershop quartet singing.  Singing lead, he and his quartet (all members of the Occidental Glee Clubs) joined the Barbershop Society in 1973 and began competing in International Competition.  THE OCCIDENTALS achieved International Finalist ranking and traveled throughout the United States in their 10 years together.  Nick has also been directing barbershop choruses ever since he joined the Society.

Singing is a family way of life in the Papageorge home.  Two of his three sons are in their own quartets and his wife, Gerry, is a two-time International Champion Quartet Singer in Sweet Adelines, International. She was tenor of PANACHE, 1990 and bass of FANATIX, 2002.  Nick of course, coached both of those championship quartets. Nick has also kept singing in quartets, most notably as the baritone in the International Finalist Quartets “GREAT STAGE ROBBERY,” and “STANDING ROOM ONLY.”            

Nick is a certified International Music Judge in the Society’s contest system, and serves on the International Music Faculty.  He has travel throughout the United States, Europe, and even China to coach many quartets and choruses in the barbershop style of music.  Nick is also a member of Actor’s Equity, and loves to champion the Arts, music in particular. 

Jamie Peterson
Jamie joined his Dad's chorus when he was 14 years old, and has been a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society for over 40 years. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Music and Education from Western Washington University.  Jamie was the Music Vice President and Baritone Section Leader for the 2-time top ten International competitor, Northwest Sound Barbershop Chorus, and was honored with their Barbershopper of the Year award in 1994.  Jamie went on to direct 2 choruses, receiving 3 Most Improved awards in 6 years of competition in Division II of the Evergreen District.  In 2004, Jamie received the Evergreen District's Barbershopper of the Year award for outstanding service to the District and the Barbershop Harmony Society.


Mollie Peterson
Mollie Peterson is a 3-time Sweet Adelines International regional quartet champion, and has been a performance coach for some of the top Barbershop Harmony Society quartets and choruses.  She first began her barbershop career in high school with her brothers as part of the original “Young Men in Harmony” program.  Mollie is the heart of HX, and loves helping kids of all ages keep singing for life.

Adrian Leontovich
A long time musician and quartet guy since his high school days, Adrian is a Singing Judge in BHS, and an active member of the Northwest Sound, the current Evergreen District champion chorus! He has also won the District first-place medal with two quartets, and recently placed 33rd in the world at the International Contest with his quartet, Code Blue! Adrian produces live web streams of Sweet Adeline and Barbershop Harmony Society conventions all over the country!

Del Masson
Del is a retired Contracts & Negotiations Exec with IBM Global Services, where he was employed for over 25 years. That job title doesn't give any clue that Del was actually a Music Education major at Central Washington and can play all woodwinds. Del began singing Barbershop in 1980 at the urging of his Sweet Adeline-singing wife. Del has sung in choruses & quartets, arranged, been an assistant director, and held numerous board positions in local chapters of the BHS since then. Del is active in local High School Drama Depts and dance studios, assisting with set-building and working backstage and on lights and sound boards, in support of his two daughters. Del and his wife reside in Bellevue, WA.

Barbershopper for over 35 years with Snohomish County Windjammers, have sung in numerous quartets and am assistant director of chorus.  Retired family physician for 35 years.

Have held most offices within barbershop chapter, including president, secretary, program and membership VPs .  Presently sing in mixed quartet called “Under the Radar”.

Jim Simpson
Jim and his family live on Whidbey Island where Jim owns two companies, Contemporary Classics International, restoring exotic automobiles, and Simpson Design & Development, designing and building custom sports cars. Jim grew up playing piano, violin, flute, piccolo, and clarinet.  He’s been active most of his life in theater and musical productions as performer, stage manager, backstage crew, and technician running lights and sound, including building sets and props. Originally from Houston, Jim had his own company, Stage Production Services, producing and stage managing live theater, concerts and television there. He has also worked extensively with Ward & Ames Special Events, Houston’s go-to production house. Jim was introduced to barbershop singing by his Sweet Adeline wife Jan in 1984 and since has sung in choruses and quartets in Houston and Seattle. He and Jan currently sing in the quartet Under The Radar, doing student outreach on behalf of and raising money for the HX camp. Jim also currently sings with the Voices Inc chorus.

Jan Simpson
Jan lives on Whidbey Island where she works with husband Jim in the family business. She also has her own hypnotherapy business, QuietMindJourneys. Active in music since childhood, Jan joined Sweet Adelines in 1978, singing with choruses and quartets in Calgary and Seattle. She got Jim interested in barbershop in 1984 and son Chuck joined in 2004.  Jan and Jim have served on staff with Harmony Explosion since 2005. During the rest of the year, they sing in the quartet Under The Radar, doing student outreach on behalf of and raising money for the HX camp.

Karen (Frerichs) Caldwell
Karen's family was very musical.  Her mom was a professional cellist and church organist, and Karen sang 3-part harmony with her sisters.  Karen began singing in a barbershop quartet called the "The 4-Get-Me-Nots" in high school, and they became well-known in the Omaha area and across the state of Nebraska.  Karen graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Music Education degree.  She taught choral music at her alma mater, Ralston High, and choral music at Auburn Mountainview High School in Auburn, WA.  She currently directs the Federal Way Harmony Kings barbershop chorus, and plays organ at her church.  Many of the students you see on our Harmony Explosion wrap-up show came from Karen's outstanding music program.