Long Beach Community Concert Series brings back the Masters of Harmony
Andy Edwards, Nov 8, 2007
Fresh from winning the chorus contest in September at the Far Western District Convention in Phoenix, the Masters of Harmony launched its preparation for two very different upcoming performances, the Long Beach Community Concert Series at the end of October and the annual Christmas show at the end of November. The chorus spent the next few rehearsals switching between regular repertoire and the Christmas repertoire as these milestones approached.
The Masters last performed in the Long Beach Community Concert Series in May, 2003. On October 28, 2007, the MOH were back on stage at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach for an afternoon concert before a near-capacity audience. It was announced from the podium that the Masters was one of the three most-requested performers by the Series patrons.
As expected from previous experience, the audience was primarily composed of non-barbershoppers, and their reaction during the performance grew in enthusiasm with each song and performing group. They also gave the chorus a standing ovation at the end of the show.
The opening set started with “That’s Entertainment” and was followed by the “Opener Medley,” “September Song,” “Just In Case You Change Your Mind,” featuring the voice and humor of Mark Freedkin, and “Here Comes The Showboat.”
Les Weiser and his percussion and strings ensemble took the stage for a crowd- pleasing calypso medley of “Day-O” and “Matilda.” This got the audience involved and injected more energy into their responses.
Then came The Crush with MOHers Matt Gray, Patrick Haedtler, Paul Tabone, and John Brockman from Westminster. This young quartet took the silver medal in the collegiate quartet competition at the international convention in Denver this past July. They have a great sound and will be a force to be reckoned with in future quartet competitions. They were enthusiastically received by the audience.
The MOH then performed their FWD contest set, “Time After Time” and “Yona From Arizona,” and finished with the Armed Forces Medley, which never fails to spur a rousing response from the audience.
Following intermission the audience was treated to a set by OC Times (Sean Devine, Shawn York, Patrick Claypool and Cory Hunt). They have been introducing a new trend of sixties and seventies songs arranged for barbershop harmony within the society, and it paid off with an international silver medal last July. Their sound is captivating and the audience was delighted as evidenced by their rousing response, despite the majority of older folks in attendance.
The MOH final set opened with “Blues In The Night” followed by the moving “For Good” featuring Mark Hale as soloist, “When I Lift Up My Head,” “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child” with Brett Littlefield as soloist, and the show finale, “Go Down, Moses.”
While some of the chorus numbers were a little flat, the overall performance was a crowd pleaser. My wife Jean sat next to the vice president of the Long Beach Community Concert Association. She has heard the Masters previously and can’t wait for the Christmas show, also to be held at the Carpenter Center. She said the Masters will be invited back again.
Jean also heard one gentlemen behind her remark that “if he had a voice, he would love to sing with the MOH.”
My wife and I hosted her son and two friends for the show. The friends had not seen the Masters before and were amazed at the impact of seeing a live performance with all the choreography. They thoroughly enjoyed the show.
I personally greeted some attendees as they were leaving and received glowing compliments. One elderly lady using a walker came up to me and told me how much she loved the performance, and in particular “For Good.” As she departed she made a remark that is all too familiar to most of us:
“Why haven’t I heard of you before?”
We could be witnessing new converts to the barbershop style we all love.
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