With a Song in My Heart

New Trier High School 1951
New Trier Township High School, 1951

How to be inspired:

-- Have a family (right)
who give unconditional love
and support;

-- Attend a high school (above) which fosters creativity;

-- Work with colleagues (below) who mentor, challenge and accept.

What a life!
Sarah, cifrca 1960 Oakley and Harriett, circa 1970
Grandma Sarah, circa 1960;
Father Oakley, Mother Harriett and Uncle Sam, circa 1970

Denis, Bob and Pam, circa 1949
Denis, Brother Bob and Sister Pam, circa 1949

Partner Rob, circa 1985
Partner Rob, circa 1985

Dedicated, with thanks, to my trailblazers . . .

--Chapter 9--

Click below
to go to
other chapters
and recordings:

Chapter 1: Introduction
Denis Moreen, 2015

Chapter 2: Past, Present, Future
Denis Retirement Party, 2000

Chapter 3: The Twelve Songs of Christmas
Moreen family Christmas tree, 1943

Chapter 4: Standing on Many Corners
New Trier HS West corners, 1968

Chapter 5: Showtime at Five O'Clock
Showtime at Five O'Clock

Chapter 6: Chicago Off-Off-Off Broadway
Northwestern University Music School

Chapter 7: San Francisco Off-Off-Off Broadway
College of Notre Dame Ralston Hall

Chapter 8: Palm Springs Off-Off-Off Broadway
Rancho Mirage Library

Chapter 9: With a Song in My Heart
New Trier High School

Chapter 10: Index of Performers and Songs
Lakeside Drive, 2017


It's a given that filmmakers like to make movies about making movies. Computer programmers like to blog about programming computers. Talking heads like to talk, and talk, and talk, about talking, heady and otherwise.

And singers like to sing songs about . . . singing songs.

Songwriters concern themselves with many topics: love that has been found, or lost, or found again; travels that have been memorable; obstacles that have been overcome. But then there are special moments when songwriters simply write songs about music itself, how music can elevate emotions in both performers and listeners, how a "song in my heart" can change a life.

As an arranger of vocal music, I've always been drawn to songs proclaiming the joys of music. So this section of my website presents many songs about songs, which I've arranged through the years.

At the same time, this section also celebrates seven trailblazers in my life. These are very special folks with whom I've worked in schools and on stages. They have all loved music and have wanted to share that music -- and that love -- with others. These artists have been my teachers and mentors, my colleagues and friends.


"Be a friend in school,

a teacher outside."

                         - Bill Peterman

(to Denis Moreen,

 a New Trier HS student teacher) 

  Denis and Bill, 1985
"Doc" Peterman and Denis, 1985

The Sound of Music -- 1960
Medley of 3 songs: "The Sound of Music" - "My Favorite Things" - "Climb Every Mountain"

I first met William J. Peterman when he joined the staff at New Trier High School as the new Music Department head. I was a high school senior playing string bass in the orchestra and Bill was the conductor for a stage production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore. I was impressed with him (not sure if the feeling was mutual).

Flash forward to 1960, my senior year in college. I asked Bill if I could do my student teaching at New Trier High School. He said, "Only if you can play piano." I assured him I could, and furthermore, my fraternity brother Dennis Bowen, a fellow music major, would also like to do his student teaching at New Trier. So Bill accepted us as a duo for the spring quarter.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical The Sound of Music had opened on Broadway in November 1959. I asked Bill if I could arrange a medley of songs for New Trier's spring musical festival. He said, "Only if you will play piano." I assured him I would, and furthermore, my fraternity brother Dennis Bowen would also like to play piano for the work. And thus was born a medley of songs from The Sound of Music, conducted by Bill, accompanied by two fledgling music teachers, and sung by 1,000 -- one thousand! -- high school kids.

New Trier Festival 
New Trier High School music festival, 1955

Denis 1959

Dennis Bowen 1959
Denis and Dennis (Moreen and Bowen), 1959

The Sound of Music, performed by New Trier High School East music festival chorus, arranged by Denis, accompanied by Denis and Dennis Bowen, conducted by Bill Peterman, 1960

Say It with Music -- 1991
Mashup of "Say It with Music" - and other Irving Berlin songs

Bill Peterman hired me to join the music staff at New Trier High School in 1964, a position I held for six years before moving to San Francisco. In 1985 Bill retired from New Trier and moved to San Jose, California. At the time I was teaching at College of Notre Dame in Belmont, about thirty miles north of San Jose.

One day I jokingly asked Bill if he'd like to "unretire" and direct the chorus at CND. To my astonishment, he said yes. To everyone's amazement, Bill built a Campus-Community Chorus with over one hundred members. When Bill again "retired" in 1990, I took over directing the chorus and hired him to appear at our next spring concert as guest conductor. For the occasion I arranged a mashup based on the song "Say It with Music." I used an older version created by Roy Ringwald and added a number of other tunes, all written by, and in tribute to, Irving Berlin.
CND Chorus 1976
Denis conducting CND Chorale, with Chris Khoury at piano,1975

Denis, Bill, Pat, Rob
Rob Tackes, Bill and Pat Peterman and Denis, 1990
Say It with Music, performed by College of Notre Dame Campus-Community Chorus women's ensemble, arranged and accompanied by Denis, conducted by Bill Peterman, 1991

Applauding TED KLINKA:

New Trier High School West
New Trier High School West sign, 2017

Sam, Ted and Denis
Sam Mages, Ted Klinka and Denis at NTHS West, 1966

"Lord, our creator,

How excellent thy name is,

in all the nations!"

- Ted Klinka

(to LaPorte Choraliers,

quoting Mendelssohn's 1846 Elijah)


Sing Men Sing -- 1966
Medley of 3 songs: "I Feel a Song Coming On" - "With a Song in My Heart" - "Sing, You Sinners"

Bill Peterman hired Ted Klinka to join the music staff at New Trier High School in 1963. Ted had taught high school music in LaPorte, Indiana, where, most coincidentally, one of his high school students later became my Northwestern University fraternity brother Dennis Bowen. The New Trier district was building a second high school, "New Trier West," to open in 1966, and Ted was slated to become head of the second school's Music Department.

After New Trier West opened, I joined choral director Ted and instrumental director Sam Mages as a third faculty member at the school. Ted and I were in total harmony (so to speak). I cherish the six years I worked with him and the many opportunities he gave me to teach, write and perform.

During my years collaborating with Ted Klinka during the 1960s, we worked with hundreds of singers. Since then, I've kept in contact with scores of these "kids" and have been amazed to learn about their accomplishments through the years. Three of our music students went on to achieve national fame: Ed Zwick, Emmy- and Oscar-winning TV and film producer and director; Christie Hefner, former CEO of Playboy Enterprises and still involved in a number of public causes; and Christine Ebersole, Tony-winning actress active in Broadway, TV, film, concert and recording activities. Ed, Christie and Christine have all recently been inducted into the New Trier Alumni Hall of Honor.

I arranged "Sing Men Sing" for Bill Peterman's Boys Ensemble at what was now "New Trier East." However, when I moved west, "Sing Men Sing" also moved with me. I formed a New Trier West Boys Ensemble, and we performed the medley many times. 

NTWHS Boys Ensemble
New Trier High School West Boys Ensemble, with Ed Zwick front-and-center, 1970

Sing Men Sing, performed by New Trier High School East Boys Ensemble, arranged and accompanied by Denis, conducted by Bill Peterman, 1966


"No U-turns on Valencia!"

                         - Ray Piccinini

(to Fickle Fox audiences,

at the close of his nightly act)

Denis and Ray, 2003
Denis and Ray Piccinini, 2003
Fickle Fox 1  Fickle Fox 2
Fickle Fox contingent at San Francisco Gay Freedom Day parade, 1976

Get Out Those Old Records -- 1986
Medley of 4 songs: "Get Out Those Old Records" - "Play a Simple Melody" - "The Old Piano Roll Blues" - "Alexander's Ragtime Band"

My San Francisco piano bar career began at The Fickle Fox in 1971 and continued for fifteen years. The Fox soon became a San Francisco institution. We were known as the city's premiere open-mike lounge (the term "open-mic" didn't come into fashion until many years later). Anyone was welcome to sing, and so I continually kept track of who came in the door. If I didn't know the singers personally, it would become a game of Russian Roulette, because we could never quite predict what would result. If I did know the singers, I would schedule them to achieve maximum variety and pacing throughout the evening. As much crowd control as piano playing.

Ray Piccinini was the star entertainer at the Fox. A comic singer and actor, Ray showed everyone else what Show Biz is all about. He knew how to "take stage" and hold it, through thick and thin. He was brilliant and a great draw, and always closed the evening show (in those days, at 1:30 am!). Our stellar performers included Barry Kinder, Oscar Jackson, Robert Sokol, and scores of others. These folks became known affectionately as The Fickle Fox Chorus.

When the Fox closed in 1985, I moved on to a rival lounge, Joe Six's, where our Fickle Fox Chorus regulars soon joined me. "Get Out Those Old Records" is an arrangement I wrote for Ray and Barry, which they performed many times at both clubs.

Denis, Ray, Barry
Denis, Ray Piccinini and Barry Kinder, 2003

Get Out Those Old Records (medley), performed by Ray Piccinini and Barry Kinder, arranged and accompanied by Denis, 1986

The Birth of the Blues -- 1986

Oscar Jackson's rendition of "The Birth of the Blues" was always an audience-grabber at The Fickle Fox and Joe Six's. This recorded performance, as well as the preceding performance by Ray and Barry, were part of a gala "So long-Farewell-Auf wiedersehen-Adu" evening on the final night of my open-mike/mic career in 1986. As we said at the time, "It's a wrap!"

Fickle Fox Chorus, 1985
The Fickle Fox Chorus (left to right Barry Kinder, Weston Bielby, Billy Pipo, Denis, John Montanez, Ray Piccinini and Oscar Jackson), 1985

Oscar, Denis, Rob, 2003
Oscar Jackson, Denis and Rob Tackes, 2003


The Birth of the Blues, performed by Oscar Jackson, arranged and accompanied by Dens, 1986

Applauding BOB TITLOW:

Bob, Bill, Denis, 1980
Bob Titlow, Bill Peterman and Denis, 1990

"Listen to the lullaby

of Old Broadway."

- Bob Titlow

(to CND cast members,

quoting Warren & Dubin's 1935 song)

Lullaby of Broadway / All Aboard for Broadway -- 1981

Robert Titlow was one of the movers and shakers at College of Notre Dame. Bob served as the first chair of the Division of Visual and Performing Arts. Then when he retired I took over his position, an administrative journey which lasted for ten years. From Bob I learned how to be resourceful and flexible in a small-school environment.

In chapter 7 of this website you'll find two songs from the 1981 revue Bob and I created, Lullaby of Broadway. Here's one more: To open the show, Bob and I mounted a flashy song-and-dance number combining "Lullaby of Broadway" and "All Aboard for Broadway."

Lullaby reinforced our collective love of Broadway productions, which we demonstrated again and again by staging many other musicals over a period of twenty years.

The Four Cowards
The Four Cowards: Denis, Onnie Taylor, Jody Bettendorf and Bob Titlow, 1974

Lullaby of Broadway, 1981
Lullaby of Broadway opening number with , 1981


Lullaby of Broadway / All Aboard for Broadway, performed by College of Notre Dame Lullaby of Broadway entire cast with vocal soloists Kathi Simas and Michael Morris, arranged by Denis, accompanied by pianists Chris Khoury and Denis, 1981

Applauding JOYCE KEIL:

"Confidence is a decision"

             - Joyce Keil

(to Ragazzi Boys Chorus,

just before a concert)

Joyce Keil, 2011
Joyce Keil, 2011
Joyce and Ragazzi, 2013
Joyce conducting Ragazzi Boys Chorus at Stanford University Bing Concert Hall, 2013

Music Alone Shall Live
-- 2012

My first concert with Ragazzi Boys Chorus was in spring 1992. My most recent concert with Ragazzi Boys Chorus was in spring 2017. During various times in the intervening years, I served as Ragazzi's principal accompanist, program manager, tour manager, chaperone and even Kodaly solfege hand-signs demonstrator. I traveled with the group to Spain and Portugal, Hungary and Austria and Slovakia and Czech Republic, England and Wales, Japan, British Columbia, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, you name it.

How explain this twenty-five-year collaboration? One simple and profound answer: Joyce Keil. Joyce co-founded Ragazzi in 1987 and has built the group into the premiere boys chorus of the San Francisco bay area. Joyce is an incredible musician and Ragazzi is a spellbinding group. It currently serves the singing needs of over 200 boys from grade school through high school - and even beyond. I am always amazed each time I hear the immaculate tone quality, pitch perfection and sheer camaraderie Joyce develops among her boys.

In 2012 Ragazzi planned a tour of southern California and I arranged for the group to appear in San Mateo, in a joint concert with California Desert Chorale. "Music Alone Shall Live" is an a cappella theme song which Ragazzi has sung throughout its thirty-year history. For the finale of the joint concert, I arranged the song for the two choral groups plus audience and instrumental accompaniment. On the recording you'll enjoy hearing Joyce explain to the audience how to sing the song as a round.

  Denis at Joint Concert, 2012
Denis presenting a gift to Joyce at the joint concert of Ragazzi and California Desert Chorale, 2012

Denis, Joyce at Joint Concert, 2012
Joyce presenting a gift to Denis at the joint concert of Ragazzi and California Desert Chorale, 2012

Ragazzi and CDC, 2012
Joyce Keil conducting everyone at the joint concert, 2012

Music Alone Shall Live, performed by Ragazzi Boys Chorus, California Desert Chorale and Chamber Orchestra, and audience, arranged by Denis Moreen, narrated and conducted by Joyce Keil, 2012

Applauding RON COHN:

  Denis and Ron, 2008
Denis and Ron, 2008


"Here's to life,

here's to love,

here's to you."

- Ron Cohn

(to Hidden Salon audiences,

quoting Butler & Molinary's 1992 song)


Battle of the Blues -- 2013
Mashup of 2 songs: "Blue Skies" - "Shakin' the Blues Away"

Ron Cohn and I have been working together in the Palm Springs area since 2008 and began presenting annual shows shortly thereafter. In addition to performing in his intimate living room, Ron has often appeared at the Joslin Center in the Sundays in Summer Cabaret Series produced by Les Michaels, otherwise known as "Mister Cabaret Impresario of Coachella Valley." Look below at the posters for our annual shows since 2010. Isn't it amazing how Ron still looks the same after all these years? The wonders of being an octogenarian!

Enjoy this "Battle of the Blues" which Ron staged in 2013.

Ron poster, 2010Ron's show, 2010

Ron poster, 2011 July
Ron's show, 2011

Ron Poster, 2012
Ron's show, 2012

Ron poster, 2013
Ron's show, 2013

Ron's flyer, 2014

Ron's show, 2014
Ron poster, 2015
Ron's show, 2015
Ron poster, 2016

Ron's show, 2016
Ron's flyer, 2017
and Ron's show, 2017
  Actually, it appears that Ron and Denis have both retained their ageless looks. Music is truly a Fountain of Youth.

Battle of the Blues, performed by Ron Cohn and Denis, arranged and accompanied by Denis, 2013

Applauding TIM BRUNEAU:


and love,

and hope abide

this Christmastide."

- Tim Bruneau

(to California Desert Chorale,

quoting McCullock & Fraser's 1988 song)

Tim, 2015
Tim Bruneau, 2015

With a Song in My Heart: A Medley Celebrating the Joys of Singing -- 2015

     Part 1 -- Say It with Music
Medley of "Say It with Music" - "You There in the Back Row" - "Sing You Sinners" - "With a Song in My Heart" - and other songs

     Part 2 -- Sing! Sing a Song
Medley of "Sing! Sing a Song" - "Do Re Mi" - "Johnny One Note" - and other songs

     Part 3 -- I Write the Songs
Medley of "I Write the Songs" - "Thank You for the Music" - "Alexander's Ragtime Band" - and other songs

In April 2014 Tim Bruneau, artistic director of California Desert Chorale, asked me to arrange something for the Chorale's March 2015 concerts. In May I told him I'd do a medley of a "few" songs about songs. In June I did my research and came up with 95 (!) possible songs. In July I cut the list down to 34 songs, set in three movements and totaling twenty-three minutes. In August Tim gulped. In September Tim said it was a total go.

In October, November and December I jumped in and arranged the parts. In January when they received their music, the singers gulped, then they jumped in also.

In February Raul Valenzuela choreographed the song "Do-Re-Mi" for Part 2, wherein Chorale members waved signs for the various solfege syllables, becoming more frenetic as the tempo increased.

My ten-year stint with Tim and the Chorale was an incredible experience for me. I am so grateful for being able to work with this conductor and chorus. He is super, they are super. "With a Song in My Heart" is billed as a medley celebrating the joys of singing. The Chorale and Tim have demonstrated these joys again and again.

Denis and Anne at CDC, 2009
Denis and Anne Ransom with California Desert Chorale, 2009


Denis at CDC, 2010
Denis with California Desert Chorale, 2010

CDC, 2015
California Desert Chorale, 2015
With a Song in My Heart: A Medley Celebrating the Joys of Singing, performed by California Desert Chorale and Chamber Orchestra with vocal soloists Brianna Finnell, Judi Russo, Ana Rangel, Christian Quevedo and Michael Graham, conducted by Tim Bruneau, arranged by Denis, 2015

Part 1 -- Say It with Music

Part 2 -- Sing! Sing a Song

Part 3 -- I Write the Songs

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First chapter

Website www.Butchie.com

Butchie, 1996
Butchie in the wild, 1978