Archive for the ‘Masters of Harmony’ Category

BHS International Qualifications…

March 17, 2009


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


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


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:

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

Balance in Health… A Moment in Time!

February 5, 2009





This music comes from a quartet called Acoustix  and it comes with a built in meaning.  This is the Moment can mean many things… some good… some not so good.  This song is about the good.  My post today is about something in my life that is not so good.

It is said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.  There comes a defining moment in everyone’s life that reveals itself by coming up slowly and subtly, or smacks you in the face with an alarming upstart.  That unfortunately was the case with me in September of 1996 when I was diagnosed as an “adult onset diabetic”. 

This was following several weeks of being extremely tired and complacent along with not being able to quench my thirst.  Little did I know that I had been making the situation worse by drinking lemonade to try and satisfy that dryness in my throat.  What I was actually doing was driving my blood sugar through the roof (neighborhood of 450) and making the situation even worse. 

I realized there existed a real problem that needed a doctor’s attention, when everything I looked at had a shadow behind it.  I later found out that the back of the eye is one of the last places in the body that actually gets rid of excess sugar in the blood stream, and the excess there for the extended period was causing my eye to swell which in turn caused the shadows.

I know where I get the diabetes from… I inherited it from my mother.  She has been injecting insulin for many years and my hope is that now with proper nutrition and exercise I can defer the injections for a looooong time down the road.   

Times are good now with the stress of 2008 behind me and my wife Elaine, and I find that the sugar levels are going down even farther.  This is a welcome site when I read the findings on the test meter. 

The unfortunate aspect of all of this is the neuropathy that has occurred in my feet (partial loss of feeling) and the constant pain that accompanies that as well. I wear insoles all the time and very seldom go without shoes especially on hard floors. 

The neuropathy is also the reason that I no longer am able to sing with the Masters of Harmony, since the rehearsals require hours of standing and rehearsing and then the performances that are more of the same.  As you can imagine I still love the music and support the Masters when and wherever I can.

Thanks for reading and caring,

pole_animate1Stay “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

The Strength of Youth, Balance and Harmony…

January 24, 2009

OC TimesHere is a treat for you…  OC Times. Barbershop Harmony Society International Champion Quartet (2008) that hails both from the Masters of Harmony and Westminster choruses in Southern California.  They are such a treat to listen to with a balanced, focused and exciting sound. Give them a listen!

These 4 young men a just one example of the exciting times currently being experienced in the world of Barbershop Harmony.  The BHS is totally committed to bringing the barbershop style of a cappella singing to young people around the world.

This is in direct response to the slowly decreasing numbers of men and women in the various barbershop singing associations.  Being an art form born in the USA, it is vital that this style of singing flourishes and continues to grow both in numbers and quality of music.

Even though I am not currently active in the BHS (diabetic feet just don’t stand up to the rehearsals of the Masters of Harmony), I still am a very strong supporter of the music and the fellowship and harmony and balance it very often brings to people who sing it and people who listen to it.

I am humbled to be able to write this blog and champion the cause of Barbershop Harmony, and will continue to do so for a long time.  It creates in me that which I have dedicated this blog to… balance and harmony and friendship.  Thanks for reading and posting your comments.

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

From the heart…

January 13, 2009

Jerry & Elaine Christmas 2009Hello to all,

As the new year opens with an infusion of new hope and energy for all, I too am looking forward to a “Devine 09”.  Over the active years of my Barbershop life, through all the chorus and quartet singing, performances in several countries, committee meetings and board meetings, I always did so with great enthusiasm.  Making costumes, learning music, attending conventions to compete or just as a spectator, or teaching a “tag” to 3 people I had never met before were just some of the wonderful times in my life. 

I truly believe that the active years I spent in Barbershop helped to define who I have become as a person.  My personality has grown, I have matured, I have become more intelligent, tolerant, appreciative, aware and all in all in my humble opinion a better overall person.  Music does wonderful and magical transformations to people who perform it… and hopefully to those who hear it.  I truly believe that it is the responsibility of the performer to take the audience down a “musical pathway” during the performance bringing them into an emotional experience that takes them for the moment to a mystical place in their mind.

Most of my initial 25 years were spent with the Riverside Citrus Belters (Riverside, California), then to Redlands Harmony Heritage (Redlands, California) and then to the International Champions… The Masters of Harmony (Santa Fe Springs, California… Los Angeles County).  In 1996 I was diagnosed as an “adult onset diabetic” which caused me to take a leave of absence from the Masters of Harmony after the 1999 International Convention in Anaheim, California (which we hosted and won!).  Being 6’6” tall I think helped to compound the problems I was experiencing with my feet gradually loosing feeling and hurting much more intently the day or two following rehearsal night.

After several years of not enduring the intensity of the rehearsals of the Masters, I began to realize that the feelings in my feet were as bad if not worse than when I was active with the Masters, and that I needed to make the unfortunate decision to not return to active singing with the chorus. I still support them by attending performances and purchasing CD’s so I can listen to them even thought I am not present there.

I now enjoy my barbershop through this blog… bringing back memories and learning new facts that I can relate to the world, and through the experiences of my wife Elaine who is active in Sweet Adelines both in the Harborlites Chorus and now having joined a quartet called Orange Crush.

Thanks for reading

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

Barbershop New Years’ Party… WoW!

January 3, 2009

My wife and I were invited to a “Barbershop” New Years party at the home of Gerry & Nick Papageorge in southern california.  It was great seeing lots of old friends and meeting some new ones as well. There were barbershop singers from the Masters of Harmony, Harborlites Chorus, Sounds of Harmony (Chino, CA, Gerry Papageorge director), and as luck would have it the only “organized” quartet was Orange Crush… (I’m prejudiced since that is my wifes’ quartet).

Good food and good friends were in abundance. Party favors were plentiful (see attached pic), and I can imagine the neighbors were holding their ears when the stroke of midnight hit.

Nick and Gerry’s son is in a rock band and they were there as well, so when the band played, the vocal singing of barbershop could not be heard. (The band had the mics, amps and speakers).

After the band stopped playing, the sounds of barbershop started and continued until at least 2 AM, when Elaine and I left.  A great way to bring in the New Year with lots of good friends and lots of good barbershop harmony.

“Stay tuned”

Jerry Braack

California USA

Barbershop around the world…

December 10, 2008

The unique style in the close harmony of this style of music has produced what has now become a world-wide style of music.  It is also now being sung in other languages as well in some of the other countries.  To name a couple… England has The British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS), Sweden has The Society of Nordic Barbershop Singers (SNOBS) and many others to be listed in future posts.

The Barbershop Harmony Society – BHS is striving to bring the joy of music and specifically this style to all the corners of the world.  Music teachers and established quartets travel to other countries to highlight the art form, conduct seminars, schools, even mini competitions and of course performances to show people how easy and fun barbershop music can be.  It’s wonderful to see the smiles come to the faces of people when the music is produced by them in its simplest form. 

I have seen this first hand when I myself, following my marriage to my wife Elaine, took about 120 of our closest friends (The Master of Harmony) to a music festival in Ireland.  No greater thrill could be seen on the faces of the people lining the streets of Kilarney, Ireland as we marched through the town on the St. Patrick’s Day parade singing My Wild Irish Rose.  It was a honeymoon we will never forget… the friends, the atmosphere, the country and of course the Music!

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California, USA

Hello world!

December 3, 2008

Welcome to Barbershop Jerry’s blog.  I hope you find the information useful and informative.  Feel free to leave comments and/or suggestions as to how I can make this blog better for everyone/anyone who visits.

Having been a barbershop singer for over 3 decades, I can attest to the wonderful addition it has made in my life.  The music, the friends, the experiences, the thrills, the memories, the life changing events (I met and married my wife through our connection with barbershop music), and all the phenomenal competitions that demanded I become a better singer and a better person. 

I am today what I am in large part due to my involvement in barbershop music.  That includes my developing singing, fellowship, leadership and most of all… lifelong friends!

Thanks for reading…

Jerry Braack

California, USA