Once Again, Into the Fray!
Scott Hansen, Apr 23, 2008
This summer in Nashville, Tennessee, the real fireworks on the 4th of July are going to be going off inside the Sommet Center as the Masters of Harmony once again take on the world’s best in their latest quest for gold.
After securing six consecutive international championships, some might wonder where one finds renewed motivation for the grueling task of preparing for the very highest level of competition.
The answer largely lies in the results of last year’s chorus contest, where the Ambassadors of Harmony and the Westminster Chorus improbably tied for first place. To be honest, many of us secretly wished that the Ambassadors had won the tie-breaker, sparing the Masters from having to face their formidable force this year. However, further reflection revealed this outcome to be a cloud with a silver lining.
Quite often, we pay lip service to the idea that the joy is in the journey, not the destination. But if we truly believe that, then we would embrace the opportunity to take on the most challenging competition possible, knowing that only such circumstances would require us to push ourselves to previously unscaled heights.
To keep our string of victories alive, we are going to have to work harder and smarter than ever before, stretch ourselves musically and emotionally in new and uncomfortable ways, and individually and collectively achieve a level of performance previously unattained.
For an individual belonging to an organization dedicated to musical excellence, what more could one possibly wish for? Regardless of the eventual outcome, our journey this time around will require more of each of us than we previously thought possible and, should we be fortunate enough to win once again, our reward will be that much richer. The personal meaning of a Gold Medal is directly proportional to the individual sacrifice required to achieve it.
Recently, Billie Jean King sent a message to Maria Sharapova on the eve of the Australian Open finals saying, “Champions take chances and pressure is a privilege.” Well, the Masters of Harmony certainly feel “privileged” this year; so, now, what is our game plan?
While champions do take chances, there’s also the old cliché about not fixin’ what ain’t broke. So, once again, we will be enlisting the superlative services of two long-time top-notch coaches. Greg Clancy, who now owns more gold medals than anyone else in the barbershop society, drew upon his many years of experience with The Vocal Majority as he recently offered us his words of wisdom. And Dr. Greg Lyne, who has not only been instrumental, but absolutely indispensable, in every one of our championships, will be helping us fine-tune our nearly finished product come May.
Once again, we will have the unparalleled inspiration of creative genius Erin Howden, a veritable force of nature, who goes far beyond merely designing our choreographic plan. More important, she challenges each of us to emotionally and personally connect with the music, the lyric, and the audience. She inspires us to grow and to give, relating more intimately with each other and, ultimately, with ourselves.
Finally, we will be led once again into battle by our fearless leader, the inimitable Mark Hale, who week in and week out puts his heart and soul into making us the best we can be. His many talents are only outshone by his love for and commitment to this chorus.
With a team like this, we are certain to ascend to new heights this summer as we tackle what is undoubtedly our biggest challenge yet. For nearly two decades we have remained undefeated. Whether the dynasty continues remains to be seen. But one thing is certain, the joy of this journey will be profound and life changing.
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