Masters of Harmony Update -- Winter 2009
Ron Larson, Jan 25, 2010
In November, the Masters of Harmony returned to a Christmas show date of the Saturday after Thanksgiving, to stunning success. In anticipation of seeing both the seven-time International champion Masters of Harmony and The Westminster Chorus -- named “Choir of the World” in international competition in Wales last summer -- the matinee sold out completely and the evening show was close behind. Under the direction of Mark Hale, the Masters featured a well-paced mixture of guest directors, individual soloists, chapter quartets, and even instrumentalists. Following Justin Miller’s lead, the young men of Westminster performed six songs that demonstrated why they earned their title and why they are a top contender for chorus gold in Philadelphia this summer.
In December, the men of the Masters performed a difficult feat. First, they assembled at a Hollywood sound studio to record “The Dream Is Carried On” with The Westminster Chorus, a song that absolutely wowed the International audience in Anaheim last summer. (Look for that recording on an upcoming Westminster CD and a future Masters recording.) After two hours of demanding work, the Masters men got on the crowded L.A. freeways to Santa Fe Springs, arriving just in time to take part in their host city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Continuing a tradition since 1988, members of the chorus provided quartets for Santa Fe Springs’ Santa Claus Float Program. Between December 7 and 17, a Masters quartet took barbershop-style holiday music to three different parts of the city each night. In all, eight quartets comprising 28 men took part. Some of the children waiting to visit Santa joined each night’s quartet on stage for impromptu carol singing and photo ops for delighted parents.
In January, the Knott’s Berry Farm Resort Hotel was the scene of the 2010 Awards and Installation Banquet. For the fourth consecutive year, MC J. Friedman kept events moving along smoothly and attendees thoroughly entertained. The Masters were honored to have Bill Biffle, president of the Barbershop Harmony Society, deliver the keynote address and install the new board of directors. Incoming Masters President Bill Rosica was named Barbershopper of the Year. Collegiate Quartet Champion The Vagrants was named MOH Quartet of the Year. Special kudos went to Steve Johnsrud for six years of perfect attendance at every MOH rehearsal, contest, show or other event -- a Cal Ripkenesque record!
Also in January, the Masters traveled to Calimesa to make their tenth appearance on the Community Concert Series, now in its 25th year. Despite driving up to two hours, most Masters look forward to performing for what some of them call a “home-run audience” that not only applauds, but adds vigorous foot stomping to their approval. The Crush and The Vagrants, two youthful chapter quartets moving steadily toward international success, were special treats. Adding to the ambiance of the venue was a dusting of snow, something Masters’ veterans had never before seen in Calimesa.
Since the last report, Roger Crumley, a retired throat surgeon, has become a member of the chapter.
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