Masters of Harmony Update - Winter 2011

Ron Larson, Jan 26, 2012

The Masters of Harmony kicked off a busy holiday season by returning to Riverside’s beautifully renovated Fox Theater for a Christmas show. Many in the capacity audience were hearing the Masters for the first time and they joined returning fans in loud, sustained applause throughout the show. Despite being thoroughly drained by the performance, the Masters men reassembled on stage about a half hour after show time for two additional hours of show quality videotaping under the direction of videography expert and chorus member Gary Stone. The taping will be used to produce a promotional CD that demonstrates the show worthiness of barbershop style harmony to future concert planners.

For the second year in a row, the Masters staged their annual Christmas show in Pasadena’s legendary Ambassador Auditorium. Because of its ability to faithfully reproduce all the musical shadings of which performers are capable, the Ambassador Auditorium has been called the Carnegie Hall of the West. Based on audience reactions, the combination of the Masters talent in a world-class setting, with fresh, innovative program staging and scripting, produced probably the chorus’s most spectacular and entertaining Christmas show ever. New to this show were a ukulele band, a new rousing song by audience favorite Les Weiser and his always crowd-pleasing Boyz in the Band combo, and even costumed Nativity actors in the sacred set at the end of the concert. In a hushed finale with house lights dimmed, the Masters filed off stage holding candles and encircled the audience while singing “Silent Night.”

For most of its history, the Masters have been fortunate to have excellent, well-furnished, centrally located rehearsal facilities generously provided by its host and namesake city, Santa Fe Springs. As they have for many years, the chorus once again repaid this generosity in several ways. One was to perform a mini-concert, along with other city music groups at the city’s annual tree-lighting ceremony. Another was by providing quartets to sing holiday songs on a float preceding the Santa Claus float that travels to designated city locations each night for two weeks in mid-December. Special kudos go to Larry Goodfried who for years has worked tirelessly to make sure that a quartet is available for each night of this event, and to city staffer Ken Arnold, who for most of its long history has superbly managed an event so eagerly anticipated by kids and their parents throughout the community. At some point in the quartet entertainment, willing kids are invited onto the float stage and sing along with the quartet while parents proudly snap pictures of kids who may one day grace the stage of American Idol . . . or become future barbershoppers!

Thanks to the efforts of AJ Manker, the Annual Awards Banquet and Installation of Officers found a new home at Khoury’s Restaurant in Long Beach. Keynote speaker for the event was Bob Lally, four-time gold medalist with the Masters of Harmony and past president of the Far Western District. Bruce Oldham received the 2011 Barbershopper of the Year Award. The zany, crowd-pleasing foursome known as Tenacious Q was named the top chapter quartet for 2011.

Congratulations go to Far Western District President Bernard Priceman as he steps down at the end of his two-year term. For the past two years, chapters throughout the district have benefited from the significant time and effort he put in on behalf of his fellow district barber shoppers. Bernard traveled widely throughout the district and surveyed almost every chapter. Along with his fellow board members, Bernard oversaw a period of remarkable success for the district’s two international chorus championships, the best midwinter convention ever, excellent district and divisional conventions, and continued sponsorship of youth activities that will help keep our marvelous hobby alive well into the future. Best wishes for continued success to Incoming President Russ Young and his fellow board members!

It is with great sadness that the Masters note the passing of one of their most beloved members, Mark Feiner. Formerly director of the Temple Beth Enet Choir in Anaheim, at the time of his passing, Mark had just established the South County Chorus Sound chorus, and was in demand for his quartet coaching expertise. He was one of 12 Masters men to earn all eight MOH gold medals. He was part of a three-generation barbershop family and had the rare distinction of earning a gold medal with his father Murray (now deceased) in Calgary, and two with his son David in Nashville and Kansas City. In the Kansas City contest, Mark stood next to David, making the Kansas City chorus picture a special treasure for anyone familiar with the Feiner family’s long association with the Masters of Harmony. At his funeral service, a show of hands in the overflow audience revealed almost every man present had sung with Mark at one time or another. So, Mark’s legacy, inherited from his father and nourished during his tenure with the Masters, will continue on with David and be carried forward into the lives of so many who were blessed by knowing him.

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