Archive for the ‘Westminster Chorus’ Category

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

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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 is alive and well in San Diego, CA

December 9, 2008

On Friday night at Balboa Park in San Diego California, I was fortunate to attend the first of 2 nights celebrating “December Nights”, a festival celebrating the Holiday Season for people who come from all across Southern California, with various booths set up within the many areas and buildings of Balboa Park. 

The booths included food of all kinds, crafts from many local merchants, displays of many different kinds of trees with many different styles of decoration, and many different music styles were being highlighted, both on the main pavilion stage and various locations around the park. 

I stumbled upon a group singing in an alcove with some men I have known for years.  It was a privilege to be able to hear an the a cappella ensemble named “Royce’s Voices”.  

This group was formed and is currently directed by Royce Ferguson, BHS International Champion Quartet member (Revival – 1998), and former director (2006-2007) of BHS International Chorus Champion Chorus (Westminster Chorus2007)

 

Royce's Voices Balboa Park San Diego, CA 2008Here Here are the names of the men who sang at this event in Balboa Park this year: 

Back Row- starting from Left: Jonathan Tappan, Larry Thorpe, Tom Powell, Jerry Kudrick, Steve Bates, Allan Webb, Mark Clement, Jason James, Jeremy Saye, Bryan Soland.

Front Row- starting from Left: Mark Reich, Royce Ferguson

 

Royce Ferguson comments on the group’s development… “We essentially started as a class I taught at San Diego State (SDSU). The class brought together a few friends from the Sun Harbor Chorus (San Diego chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, BHS), SDSU, and other SoCal singers.

 

Mark Hale (Director of 7 time International Champion Chorus, and current International Champion Chorus The Masters of Harmony chapter of the    Barbershop Harmony Society, BHS) generously provided much of the music that we learned.

 

This group paved the way for PCH (Pacific Coast Harmony chapter of Barbershop Harmony Society) and the vocal approaches that were refined here eventually defined the vocal model for Westminster (Westminster chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, BHS and International Champion chorus – 2007).  

Singing informally at “December Nights” is always a highlight of the year for all of us. And some listeners have even made it part of their own holiday tradition!”  You can find more information about the group and some history at:  http://www.witsolutions.com

What a terrific way to spend a Friday night in December.

Jerry Braack

California, USA