Fernando "Fern" J. Sicilia

Director of The General Assembly

Fern has been a performing artist since the age of 6, starting with his first public performance playing the violin, and later was the youngest performing artist in the El Paso Symphony. He moved to New York at age 13 and established himself in the brass section of his middle school and high school bands playing trumpet, French horn, baritone, and valve trombone and while in high school, participated in the Jazz Ensemble and Swing Band.

In college, Fern majored in Music Education with a minor in Performance (Classical Guitar), which expanded his repertoire of musical instruments to include all the woodwinds, especially the flute family, clarinet family, and saxophone family. Even though he continued playing in the Jazz Ensemble and Swing Band, his curriculum mandated participating in Symphony Orchestra and various Choruses and Choirs. To help pay tuition, he gave private vocal, woodwind, brass, string, and percussion lessons, played bass, lead and rhythm guitars, and sang lead and backing vocals in various cover bands and original bands on the New York circuit.

While in college, Fern stumbled upon four classmates who were producing a magnificent sound the likes of which he’d never heard, and he set about meeting his first barbershop friends. As soon as he finished his first tag, Fern was smitten with barbershop. His friends presented him to his first barbershop mentors, the late great Dave Johnson and Ed Waesche of the New Yorkers [quartet]. In 1995, The Tag-A-Longs, his first quartet, won the collegiate Mid-Atlantic District championship, and later that year, placed 7th in his first International Collegiate championship. Dave also introduced Fern to The Big Apple chorus and within one month, the chorus asked Fern to be the Tenor section leader, and one month later, an assistant director, which he spent the next ten years doing. While Fern was in The Big Apple chorus, it competed multiple times at International placing as high as Top 10. Later, Fern also became assistant director at Twin Shores Chorus and co-founded the Long Island Sound Chapter and chorus.

After graduating from college, Fern became a music educator and continued offering private instruction in vocal, strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion, roles he continues to this day. Fern has taught middleschool and high school choruses, choirs, orchestras, and bands, and is currently teaching K-8. In 2008, he formed the Tri-star Chorus, a 3-state 44-member young men’s chorus (most of whom had never performed in public before), went to the Mid-Winter International Competition in San Antonio,TX, and placed 2nd in its plateau.

Fern expanded his barbershop experience as a tenor in the following quartets: Applause, Grand Central, 5th Element, and Young Guns, all of which led to Roger Payne asking that Fern replace him as tenor in Reveille before Roger succumbed to brain cancer. In 2007, with Fern as tenor, Reveille placed 16th at International. While in Reveille, Fern was invited to serve as a clinician and vocal coach in several Harmony Explosion camps both in New York and Canada. During this time, Fern began developing his secret passion arranging barbershop music, some of which has been performed publicly.

After moving to North Carolina in 2011, Fern became an active member and assistant director at The Heart of Carolina (HOC) chorus. He also joined the Carolina Vocal Express (CVE) as a baritone, competed with them at International in Pittsburgh, PA, when they placed 17th. While at HOC, Fern formed and coached The Young Ones quartet in 2014, which won Novice Quartet Champions in their first competition, and whose Lead was Fern’s own son, Logan. He is a co-founding member and baritone of his quartet, Midtown. In 2015, Fern joined The Master’s Men as tenor.

While Fern enjoys ringing chords and the feeling that it gives, his real passion lies in performing in public and pleasing and touching the hearts of his audience in a way that only music can do, while thoroughly enjoying the thrill of barbershop harmony.

Fern currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife, Nancy, and his beautiful and musically talented children, Sabrina, Logan, Haydn, Grayson, and Sorrel.