Archive for the ‘Barbershop Competitions’ Category

American Harmony, The Movie… Revisited

April 20, 2009

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American Harmony

Barbershop singing like you’ve never imagined

By MEG DOWNEY • The Tennessean • April 14, 2009

Start humming…
Gonna take a sentimental journey.
Yes, sentimental, fiercely competitive, charming and obsessive. American Harmony, a music documentary about barbershop singing, exposes the passion and friendship of the men drawn to this peculiarly American style of a cappella singing.
Influenced by African-American gospel and European hymn chorales, the music, for some, may seem stuck in the early 20th century. We think of men with sleeve garters, handlebar mustaches and straw skimmers on heads bent together in harmony on “Sweet Adeline.”

Get past that. Today, many may dress more like dons and sing 1960s pop. The film sets up four gladiator quartets seeking to be No. 1 in the international competition held by the eminent Barbershop Harmony Society, which is based in Nashville.
Max Q is the revered dream team of older singers who’ve won before with other groups but can’t seem to get the gold; the OC Times (for Orange County, Calif.) are attractive young turks who could easily wow American Idol fans; Reveille is a group of middle-aged friends with a comedic bent; and Vocal Spectrum is a foursome of upstarts just out of college.

These musical Olympics attract 10,000 fans, and the singers practice with the intensity of Lance Armstrong, while mowing the lawn, playing poker and for hours in front of a coach. The blissful ringing chords they produce are only half of it. Watch their faces contort with emotion — eyes popping for surprise, eyebrows bent up in sincerity, half-closed eyes and crooning lips oozing love. They are all hams, and that’s the kick.
Shawn York, the tenor with the OC Times, works as a manager in a Chick-fil-A, then suits up and becomes a rock star on stage or enchants a waitress when his quartet spontaneously erupts with “So In Love” in a luncheonette. No wonder these guys have groupies following them.

As Joe Hunter, a baritone with Reveille, said: “It’s you, your voice and the audience, and when it’s done right, it moves people.”
While winning may drive the singers, it’s the camaraderie that binds them. American Harmony shows that effectively. The teams deal with challenges from rookie nerves to brain cancer. The 86-minute film, written, produced and directed by Aengus James, is a rose in the lapel for these songsters.

Stay “Tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

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Orange Crush… On The Move…

April 10, 2009

orange-crush

Elaine                 Sally                  Tracey                  Anna

My wife Elaine’s Sweet Adeline quartet “Orange Crush” is moving strongly towards the first “Official” Competition since they put this combination together. (the addition of Elaine to replace their lost Tenor). Their performances are getting powerful, magical, inviting and most of all pleasurable.

They have been getting specific quartet coaching for the quartet as well as going to visit various chapters, both men’s and women’s and singing a “set” of songs which will be their contest performance on stage in Pasadena, CA on April 24 & 25.

Last night I had the privilege of video recording a session where a small group of very capable people in the “know” (judges and the like) had Orange Crush run sets, and then critique them on what could be made better.  It was a great session and the quartet (who sounded GREAT at the begining) learned a few more little tips that will make their performance on stage (and therefore their scores) all that much better.

We all look forward to hearing them on stage and seeing how happy they are with the high scores they attain after doing the superb job we know they will do.

Stay “Tuned”

Jerry Braack

California USA

BHS International Qualifications…

March 17, 2009

moh-nashville1

This coming weekend my wife Elaine and I will be in Las Vegas, Nevada at the site of one of the many qualification competitions for the upcoming International Convention and Competition for the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS).  This particular convention will combine both the Far Western and the Rocky Mountain Districts.

The International Convention will be held in Anaheim, California, held from June 29, thru July 4, 2009.  It will be a thrill for my wife and I to attend this International convention since it is close to home. 

This convention will be the first time that a Sweet Adeline Chorus has been invited to attend and perform on one of the shows outside the main competition.

It will also be a monumental calling card to see the 11 time International champion chorus Vocal Majority and the 7 time International champion chorus Masters of Harmony perform together on the same stage.  Approximately 275 men will perform several songs together, as well as separate selections from each of the choruses by themselves.

I will be sure to post results for all to see, and possibly to hear, following the events.

Thanks for reading

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack,  California  USA

Masterpiece of Sheer Beauty… revisited…

February 10, 2009
Masterpiece
Once again from the Masters of Harmony comes the formation of a championship quality and caliber quartet – Masterpiece! 
Here is Masterpiece competing in the SoCal West Divisional in 2008.  They are getting better all the time!  Their next challenge is the International Preliminary Competition in Las Vegas in March 2009, to be eligible to compete at the Internation Competition to be held in Anaheim, California in late June 2009.
I read Mike’s blog piece on the quartet and realized I couldn’t do any better… so here is a reprint…
Have you heard of this new quartet coming into the limelight? The 5th Wheel has. Maybe not the name, but certainly the members. Yes, it is another quartet made up entirely of previous gold medalists. You may not think it’s fair to those who have never won an international contest to compete against another “power” quartet? I disagree. Masterpiece has the potential to be something very special for this Society and the art form. I’ll tell you why.

The members of Masterpiece are Rob Menaker (Nightlife, 1996), Mark Hale (Michigan Jake, 2001), Alan Gordon (Gotcha!, 2004) and Brett Littlefield (Nightlife, 1996). OK, pick your jaw off the ground and keep reading. Yes, this quartet has some very impressive singers in the group. Rob is a strong and accurate Tenor, Mark sings with musicality that is unmatched, Alan is, in my opinion being a fellow baritone, probably the best baritone in our Society. Alan can fill and sing like a Bass and yet match the musicality and sensitivity of the Lead. Brett… well, Brett is Brett. I believe Brett’s former life was one of the trumpets that took down the walls of Jericho. His resonance and deep voice is tremendous. OK, but we already know this about them. Yeah, they’re good. But what makes them so special?

Masterpiece represents all that is right about our Society and why we sing together. First off, they are all friends.  Read more…

Thanks for reading and listening
Stay “tuned”
Jerry Braack 
California USA

The “Masters” of Harmony (and Balance)…

February 6, 2009

Masters of Harmony 2008

Listen to the 9 minute performance on stage in Nashville winning the coveted International Championship

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Here is a reprint from their website… The Masters of Harmony are based in Santa Fe Springs, California, the all-male chorus, uniting over 100 voices, is dedicated to musical excellence and the preservation of the uniquely American style of music known as “Barbershop.” In the years since their inception in 1985, the Masters have risen to the highest levels of a cappella singing in the world with seven international championships with the Barbershop Harmony Society and numerous other recognitions to their credit. The Masters of Harmony was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon, Pennsylvania in September 2002.

The Masters of Harmony will once again take a leadership role in supporting choral music education in local schools by presenting the 9th Annual Young Men’s Harmony Festival. The event will be an all-day clinic and rehearsal for over 200 young men from high schools throughout Southern California, culminating in a joint performance with the Masters that is open to the public. In addition to several guest clinicians, members of 2008 international gold medalist quartet OC Times and up-and-coming foursome The Crush will serve as section leaders and role models.

The purpose of the event, co-sponsored by the Southern California Vocal Association, is to expose young men and their choral music teachers to the barbershop style and give students an opportunity to experience the joy of “ringing a chord.” All proceeds from the performance will go toward supporting choral music education throughout Southern California.

Interested singers who wish to participate in the festival can download the registration form from:

http://scvachoral.org.

Saturday, February 21, 2009
Robert B. Moore Theater, Orange Coast College
2701 Fairview St.  Costa Mesa, California

Evening Performance: 7:30 p.m.  Tickets $5 (no reserved seating)
Free parking.  For tickets and information, please call (949) 559-9621

Thanks for reading and listening

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

Champions, a closer look…

January 31, 2009

 

MaxQ

MaxQ, the 2007 Barbershop Harmony Society’s International Champion has set some very high standards for those following in competitions.  Their sound is crisp and clean and very exciting.  The members of course have many achievements during their many years of membership in the BHS.

 Listen to just a sample of one of the CD’s they have produced.  It is  from an Irish lullaby “Fare Thee Well Love”, and sure to grab you and tug at your heart strings.  Be sure to read their Bio’s on the MaxQ quartet website

They are one of many championship caliber people who have joined, stayed and enhanced the barbershop art form.  Those of us who have the pleasure of listening to and knowing them are truly blessed.

I for one had the pleasure of singing in the Masters of Harmony during the time when the bass of MaxQ, Jeff Oxley directed our chorus to the International Championship in 1999. He commuted from Dallas, Texas at least once a week for rehearsals and more for performances.  One of those performances was the appearance of our chorus on the Jerry Lewis Telethon, where we brought a lot of people to tears with our rendition of “To Dream The Impossible Dream”. It was a moment in my life I will never forget.

Thanks for reading and listening

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

Youth Chorus WebCast from the Mid-Winter Convention in Pasadena, CA…

January 28, 2009

2009 Youth Chorus Festival

The Barbershop Harmony Society’s Mid-Winter Convention is being held in Pasadena, California this weekend.  Conventions are always a place to renew friendships, hear some great barbershop harmony, meet some new friends and have a marvelous time.

There is a concerted effort now to bring Barbershop music to the younger generation.  This is certainly one important aspect to keep this art form alive, well and prospering.  Here is one of the bright spots of that effort bringing “youth” into contact with the existing member base.  It is a supreme pleasure to see the light in their eyes as they perform and listen to Barbeshop Harmony.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

The Evergreen District, in combination with the Northwest Vocal Project
chorus and Lions Mane Productions, is proud to present a webcast of the 2009 International Youth Chorus Festival, live from Pasadena, California!

Using a proven solution developed and used by the Evergreen District over the last four years, the webcast will launch just before the festival begins at 12:00PM noon PST, Saturday January 31st at a modest fee of $10 (donations would also be accepted). Watch over 200 young men from all over the country (and outside the US!) compete in their very own chorus contest! Do you have friends or relatives competing? Watch them compete, as it happens, from yourown computer!

Go to http://www.evg.org <http://www.evg.org/> and follow the link from the home page to buy your online “ticket” to watch this spectacular event on this coming Saturday! Want to know what it will be like?
Follow this link to YouTube to watch the official Trailer! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgFWHq-Blxk

Thanks for reading and watching

It truly is a pleasure bringing these small tidbits to you

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

Chorus Champions Down Through the Years…

January 28, 2009

Masters of Harmony -2008

Here are the current International Champions, The Masters of Harmony.  Listen to their championship performance at the 2008 International Competition in Nashville, Tennessee.

Here is a list the Barbershop Harmony Society’s international chorus champions by the year in which they won. Choruses are eligible to win any number of times but must sit out for two years after they win.  In a previous post some of the top repeating choruses were mentioned.  It is always a treat to hear the “best of the best” in whatever someone chooses to be a part of , no matter what that choice might be.

2008 — Masters of Harmony, 2007Westminster Chorus, 2006Vocal Majority, 2005Masters of Harmony, 2004Ambassadors of Harmony, 2003Vocal Majority, 2002Masters of Harmony, 2001New Tradition Chorus, 2000Vocal Majority

1999Masters of Harmony, 1998Alexandria Harmonizers, 1997Vocal Majority, 1996Masters of Harmony, 1995Alexandria Harmonizers, 1994Vocal Majority, 1993Masters of Harmony, 1992Southern Gateway Chorus, 1991Vocal Majority, 1990Masters of Harmony

1989Alexandria Harmonizers, 1988Vocal Majority, 1987West Towns Chorus, 1986Alexandria Harmonizers, 1985Vocal Majority, 1984Thoroughbreds, 1983Phoenicians, 1982Vocal Majority, 1981Thoroughbreds, 1980Dukes of Harmony

1979Vocal Majority, 1978Thoroughbreds, 1977Dukes of Harmony, 1976Phoenicians, 1975Vocal Majority, 1974Thoroughbreds, 1973Southern Gateway Chorus, 1972Phoenicians, 1971Chorus of the Chesapeake, 1970Dapper Dans of Harmony

1969Thoroughbreds, 1968Pekin Chorus, 1967Dapper Dans of Harmony, 1966Thoroughbreds, 1965Miamians, 1964Border Chorders, 1963Pekin Chorus, 1962Thoroughbreds, 1961Chorus of the Chesapeake, 1960Chordsmen

1959Pekin Chorus, 1958Dixie Cotton Boll Memphis, 1957Californians, 1956Ambassadors of Harmony, 1955Janesville Chorus, 1954Singing Capitol Chorus.

Thanks for reading and listening…

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

Ringing Chords the Barbershop way Part 2…

January 21, 2009

Hi-fidelityHi everyone, This is a wonderful and unique quartet called Hi-Fidelity, check out their website and listen to them singing a very entertaining song in a competition setting on youtube.com.

Here is the second in a series of posts on what drives the Barbershop singer to come back time after time to this fantastic art form called Barbershop. The Barbershop Harmony Society, BHS continually strives to develop even better ways of enhancing the “a cappella” experience in music through Barbershop Harmony.

What is prized is not so much the “overtone” itself, but a unique sound whose achievement is most easily recognized by the presence of the “overtone”. The precise synchrony of the waveforms of the four voices simultaneously creates the perception of a “fifth voice” while at the same time melding the four voices into a unified sound. The ringing chord is qualitatively different in sound from an ordinary musical chord e.g. as sounded on a tempered-scale keyboard instrument.

Most elements of the “revivalist” style are related to the desire to produce these ringing chords. Performance is a cappella to prevent the distracting introduction of equal-tempered intonation, and because listening to anything but the other three voices interferes with a performer’s ability to tune with the precision required. Barbershop arrangements stress chords and chord progressions that favor “ringing”, at the expense of suspended and diminished chords and other harmonic vocabulary of the ragtime and jazz forms.

The dominant seventh-type chord… is so important to barbershop harmony that it is called the “barbershop seventh…” SPEBSQSA (now BHS) arrangers believe that a song should contain dominant seventh chords anywhere from 35 to 60 percent of the time (measured as a percentage of the duration of the song rather than a percentage of the chords present) to sound “barbershop.”

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

Barbershop Champion Choruses…

January 11, 2009

The Masters of HarmonyBarbershop music can be sung by a 4 part 4 person quartet, or a 4 part 140 person chorus. Both quartets and choruses are present in all 3 of the associations… the Barbershop Harmony Society, Sweet Adelines International and Harmony, Inc.

For competitions, the chorus is limited to a minimum number 12-15 or some are as large a 160 performers on stage.

Choruses are usually composed of various numbers singing the different parts.  For instance in a chorus there would ideally be 40 basses, 30 leads, 20 baritones and 10 tenors.

There are several choruses in the Barbershop Harmony Society that have excelled in mastering the barbershop art form and catapulted themselves to International Championship status time and time again.  When winning the International Gold as a chorus, you are not eligible to compete again at the International Competition until the 3rd year.

Currently, the Vocal Majority (Dallas, TX) has won 11 times, the Masters of Harmony (Santa Fe Springs, [Los Angeles] CA) 7 times, the Louisville Thoroughbreds (Louisville, KY) 7 times, the Alexandria Harmonizers (Alexandria, VA) 4 times, the Chorus of the Chesapeake (Baltimore, MD) 2 times, and the young men spin-off from the Masters of Harmony, the Westminster Chorus (Westminster, CA) 1 time with probably the smallest number of men on stage to ever win (2007)

You definitely will do yourself a favor to visit the websites of these top notch choruses. I will fill more in on the women’s choruses in another post.

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California USA