Longtime Hill Staffer Helps Keep Capitol Hill Chorale Singing Sweetly

Posted March 13, 2012 at 5:04pm

Virginia “Ginny” Gano earned a reputation on Capitol Hill over the course of 37 years as the motherly taskmaster who kept the offices of Ohio Representatives running smoothly. 

Now she fills the same role as the administrative director of the Capitol Hill Chorale, a 90-voice ensemble that draws from the Hill community. 

“Ginny’s really our den mother,” Board President Carl Ford said. “She keeps everything intact and organized.”

Founded in 1993 with about 45 members, the chorale has tried to keep the organization tied to the Hill through the years. Although more than half of the singers come from outside the community, the group continues to rehearse and perform in the neighborhood. (One famous alumna is Callista Bisek, a former Hill staffer who is now Mrs. Newt Gingrich. “She was fantastic, just a very good singer, and a very nice person,” Gano said of the former Speaker’s wife.)

Gano brings structure to the sometimes-messy artistic process.

“I set up the auditions, I get in contact with the people, I take pictures of them, I hook them up with their section leaders and then I transfer their information to our member roster,” she said.

Gano is also in charge of delivering the chorale’s weekly notes. She sends members updates about previous rehearsals and reminders about future events. She also keeps an exacting list of member attendance and volunteer functions.

“I am the one who signs people up and sends them information,” Gano said.  “What is required, what the dues are, what the approximate cost of music is, what the rehearsal dates are and so on.”

A Familiar Role

It’s all in a day’s work for Gano, who  moved to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 1969. 

After interviewing for a job as a receptionist for then-Rep. Clarence Brown Jr. (R-Ohio), Gano soon began working as the office scheduler.

When Brown left Congress in 1983, his Republican successor, Rep. Mike DeWine, kept Gano on as a scheduler. “I always say I was never a scheduler, I was a re-scheduler,” Gano said. “You learned to get contacts for people, you had to realize that the days fluctuate, so you have to be able to go with the flow. You can’t go crazy every time somebody calls to say they are going to be 10 minutes late.”

As administrator of the chorale, Gano sees a similar trend in her responsibilities.

“If people are going to be late for rehearsal, I notify the artistic director just in case the person has to perform a solo during the rehearsal session. You just have to make last-minute changes,” she said.

When DeWine gave up his seat to run for lieutenant governor, Republican Rep. David Hobson became Gano’s third and final boss on the Hill. 

“I became the one that was the mom of the office. I was the one that people came to with their problems. That’s basically one of the things I do in the chorale,” Gano said. 

When she retired from the Hill in January 2007, Hobson called her “the heart of this office and my district for years.”

“Ginny is absolutely indispensable,” said longtime chorale member David Greengrass, a senior legislative assistant for Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.). “She puts so much time and cares about the group so much, and I think we’d be absolutely lost without her.” 

It is a tossup between the wonderful music and the wonderful people that draws Gano and many others to the chorale year after year, she said.

“To be able to make such beautiful music with the people you care about is the best thing ever,” she said. “I just try to keep it like a family.”

Capital City Symphony and Capitol Hill Chorale

“Together Again: Mozart and Brahms”

The concert features Mozart’s “Requiem” and “Overture” to “Don Giovanni” and Brahms’ “Nänie.”

7:30 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday

Saturday at the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, Fourth Street and Independence Avenue Southeast; Sunday at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE.

Buy tickets for both performances at capitalcitysymphony.org or call 202-547-1444 for tickets to Saturday’s performance and 202-399-7993 for tickets to Sunday’s show.