Posts Tagged ‘Barbershop Harmony Society’

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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Good Friends Gone…

April 3, 2009

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I am sad to hear of several of my long time friends passing away from cancer.  Both friends I have known for many decades, and it hurts me to know I am at the age where  the people I know are leaving this world.  I do have health issues, but I am still “above ground”… and that’s a good day.

To attend the services for my friends means reliving old memories, seeing old friends and remembering all the good times shared with their families and all who knew them.

One man, Stan Lang,  gave me my first job after my tour of duty in the Air Force, and was keen on getting an education, so it was mandated to me… go to school, do your homework and tell me when you can work and we will make it all work.

Another man, Jim McKee, I have known also throughout my Barbershop career as a teacher, director, quartet enthusiast, official BHS judge and friend.

Both were men of good character, both loved the Barbershop music and both loved family.

They will be missed!

Thanks for reading

Stay “Tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

BHS International Qualifications…

March 17, 2009

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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

American Harmony, The Movie…

March 2, 2009

 American Harmony

 What a boost to the Barbershop Art Form! Here is a reprint from the official BHS website. 

American HarmonyThe Single Biggest Public Relations & Membership Recruitment Opportunity Ever Presented To Chapters of the Barbershop Harmony Society

American Harmony, the documentary, had a very exciting and  successful  screening at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s 2008   International Convention in Nashville. Now the producers, Aengus James (who is also the writer/director) and Colin Miller, want to take it beyond the barbershop devotees. The film, which is a tribute to the  human musical spirit, is more than three years in the making and was edited by Kate Amend, the editor of two Oscar-winning documentaries. 

The movie is an in-depth look at the amazingly rich subculture of a true American art form. It follows the lives of some of the biggest names to emerge from international competition in the Society’s history, as well as interviews with rank-and-file members, called “Joe Barbershoppers.” The film features four prominent Society quartets – OC Times, Max Q, Vocal Spectrum, and Reveille – over a span of years, on stage and at home, in their personal quests for international recognition as they experience the thrill of victory, and the agony of not quite making it. American Harmony received an enthusiastic reception from film distributors and other non-Society audiences.

“The film is a mixture of obsession, singing, zany comedy and nail-biting competition,” says James on the website. “This is the story of several dreamers who journey from their ‘ordinary’ lives to the world stage in the hopes of winning the gold.”

 

American Harmony was filmed by James and his camera crews during the Society’s last three international conventions and is interspersed with footage and other graphic elements provided by the Barbershop Harmony Society. These elements combine to tell a very compelling story:

 

Watch the trailer

 

Thanks for reading

 

barber-pole2Stay “tuned”

 

Jerry Braack

 

California  USA

Harmony Creating Balance…

February 25, 2009

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spebsqsa-logo-colorOne of the ways I choose to harmonize and balance my life is through the medium of Barbershop Harmony.  It helps generate feelings of excitement, contentment, cooperation, teamwork, excellence and of course… Balance!

When you have harmony in your life, there is a natural balance that emerges.  You may or may not feel it, but those around you can definitely feel its presence.  That feeling is subconsciously attracting people to you.  The universe acts in a multitude of ways no one understands, never the less, the “laws” of attraction (or repulsion if that is the feeling being eminated) are very strong and very effective.

Have you ever noticed that you feel better being around a certain someone, yet you don’t know why… well it often times is that underlying feeling being acted upon by one or both parties that creates a friendship or business relationship and yes even a better life partner relationship. 

This is all being accomplished by forces we don’t understand, but never the less, it happens.  It is similar to a “feeding frenzy” only in a positive way, in that the reaction isn’t to devour something or someone, it is just to make a situation better, more productive or more beneficial to a special someone, or the a group depending on the situation.

We should all strive to define, create, enhance and maintain harmony in all aspects of our lives.

I hope this helps all who read it to do just that… define, create, enhance and maintain.

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

Balance in Health… A Moment in Time!

February 5, 2009

  Acoustix

 

 

 

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

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