Harmony Festival Triumphs
February 18, 2006
Mark Freedkin, Feb 27, 2006
The Masters of Harmony once again supported the Society’s Young Men In Harmony program by hosting our 6th Annual Young Men’s Harmony Festival at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. About 30 MOH men and sweethearts were on hand to take care of registration, serve lunch and supper, and coordinate logistics for 214 young men from 26 high schools, junior high schools and middle schools throughout Southern California.
The event was co-sponsored by the Southern California Vocal Association, a professional organization of choral music teachers. For the third consecutive year, SCVA abandoned their traditional “Young Men’s Clinic” which had always been poorly attended, and embraced our Festival as their official young men’s choral event in its place. This represents a major acceptance by the choral music education community of the barbershop style as a viable musical art form.
All Festival participants were given sheet music and learning tapes for six songs about four weeks prior to the event, and instructed to learn the music on their own. Many teachers were impressed with how quickly and easily their singers learned the music. About 18 teachers accompanied their students to the event. Several more choral directors were unable to participate all day, but joined us for the evening performance.
The music team consisted of Ken Potter, Craig Ewing, Nick Papageorge and myself as co-directors, along with the members of OC Times (Shawn York, Sean Devine, Pat Claypool, Cory Hunt), Metropolis (James Sabina, Bob Hartley, Kelly Shepard, Brian Philbin) and Afternoon Delight (Justin Miller, Matt Whiffen, David Rakita and Drew Harrah). They served as section leaders and coaches, polishing the songs through the afternoon.
The students worked hard all day to master their notes, words and moves. After consuming 75 large pepperoni pizzas, they came into the auditorium to observe the focus and intensity of the MOH. The boys then joined us on the risers for a run-through of the evening’s performance.
In the evening, buoyed by enthusiastic teachers, parents and friends, the youth chorus opened the show and really “turned it on.” Afternoon Delight, OC Times, Metropolis and the Masters of Harmony followed them on stage. A special presentation by the Westminster Chorus, 2005 Far Western District Champion, with an average age of about 20, gave the boys a taste of what could be achieved. The boys returned to the stage for the grand finale of “Fun in Just One Lifetime” with the MOH and “I Have A Song To Sing” with the three guest quartets, all directed by Mark Hale. We thanked the parents and teachers for supporting the event, and asked them to encourage their sons to keep music in their hearts throughout their lives. The show closed with a powerful rendition of “God Bless America” sung by all performers.
At the end of the show, the entire audience rose to their feet and demonstrated their approval and appreciation for the gift of music that we shared with those young men. We heard teachers say this was the finest musical experience their singers ever had. Parents and teachers reported that the boys continued singing all the way home that night, and that several new quartets have been formed at the schools.
As a bonus, our Board of Directors authorized funds that have been earmarked for youth activities to capture the entire day on film so we can have a professionally prepared documentary to share with the rest of the Society, and encourage similar festivals throughout the United States and Canada. With two cameras running full-time, we captured over 22 hours of rehearsal and performance, along with interviews with participating students, their teachers and our guest quartets. That raw footage will be edited down to a more manageable 10-12 minute film.
This Festival has become recognized as one of the top Young Men In Harmony programs in the Barbershop Harmony Society. The Masters of Harmony is proud to be a leader in encouraging choral music education in our schools and communities. Many thanks to all of the volunteers who helped put on this wonderful event.
Feedback from Teachers and Students
It was a fantastic day for my student, as he and I really enjoyed this amazing experience. I look forward to supporting it wholeheartedly in the future. I am stunned and inspired by what you accomplished in one day.
- John Hendricks
Director of Choral Music
The Buckley School (Sherman Oaks)
Thanks again for Saturday -- my guys are excited about forming a couple of quartets so I will let you know more as that progresses. Please thank the Masters of Harmony for being such great hosts. The investment of time and energy is having a payoff.
- Craig Gruenberg
Director of Choral Music
Granada Hills High School
All our guys had a great time, and they want to do it again next year. Some have already talked of forming quartets, and some sound like they are angling for the upcoming high school quartet contest.
What an excellent concert as well! Their enthusiasm was genuine and some eyes really got opened. I will be thanking the various quartets and choruses for their contributions to the day and the evening as well.
- Chris Ring [former MOHer]
Fullerton Union High School
My name is Alex Michaelson and I was a baritone singer in Saturday’s Young Men In Harmony Festival. I want to let you know how much I loved and appreciated being in the festival. It was so much fun for me to sing barbershop ‑ not just onstage, but even more so to sing tags with some of the MOH and OC Times guys.
I have sent an e-mail to the [San Fernando Valley Chapter] Valleyaires for information about their chorus and rehearsals. I do not honestly know what I will have time for, but I certainly want to make barbershop singing a part of my life ‑ if not immediately, then definitely when I am in college and beyond.
- Alex Michaelson
11th grade, The Buckley School
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