One Minute With: After Hours

With humble beginnings in college, over a decade of dedication (and many more years in barbershop and music!), and a couple membership changes, After Hours reached the pinnacle of barbershop in Orlando last summer: they became the 2018 International Quartet Champions. They not only won, they earned the highest score in Society history.

This honor comes with far more than a set of gold medals and a trophy. Tim Beutel, Dan Wessler, Drew Ochoa, and Bryan Ziegler now find their place among the greats, honored with a permanent place in Harmony Hall. Their talent will be heard around the globe in coming years, but we got to catch up with them backstage at the Grand Ole Opry during #BHSOpry.

Here is One Minute With: After Hours –

One Minute With: St. Croix Crossing

The last day of #BHSOpry was spent in contest with the world’s best senior quartets before the Midwinter Convention closed with a blockbuster Saturday Night Show.

Before DoubleDouble was named the new Senior Quartet International Champions, we heard a swan song from the 2018 Senior Quartet International Champions: St. Croix Crossing. This foursome out of Wisconsin and Minnesota and comes with talent, personality, and a lot of charm.

Here is One Minute With: St. Croix Crossing –

Intergenerational Showcase at the Grand Ole Opry

Day 2 at #BHSOpry in Nashville was dedicated to the youngest and oldest members of the barbershop community with the day-long Junior and Senior Chorus Invitationals.

23 choruses with singers ranging in age from 9 to 94 crossed the hallowed stage at the Grand Ole Opry, treating the audience to three songs each. The shine of the costumes were only outdone by the smiles of the performers, with eight choruses earning the top rating of Superior including:

A CAPPELLA! (James Hubert Blake High School, Silver Spring, MD)
Chandler High School Treblemakers (Chandler High School, Chandler, AZ)
Harmony Explosion Chorus (Columbus High School, Columbus, NE)
Hurricane of Harmony (Gaither High School, Tampa, FL)
Provo High School Combined Choirs (Provo High School, Provo, UT)
Rowdy Rhythm (Peters Township High School, McMurray, PA)
Dixie District Seniors Chorus (Dixie District)
Carolina Statesmen (Carolinas District)

Hurricane of Harmony directed by Debbie Cleveland earned the Plateau AAA Award, A CAPPELLA! directed by Sandra Zinkievich the Plateau AA Award, and Upbeat! from Lopez Early College High School in Brownsville, TX earned the Plateau A Award. Hurricane of Harmony also won the Audience Favorite Award, meaning we’ll get to see a reprise of their set during the Saturday Night Show.

The special Presenter’s Award was given to the Wildcat Chord Ringers, a group of nine elementary and middle school students from Quinton Township School in New Jersey. The youngest performers of the day not only pulled off some great chords, but also several wardrobe changes and full theatrics that kept the audience laughing.

The day also included honoring NAfME Music Educator of the Year Lori Lyford who led both her women’s chorus, Chandler High School Treblemakers and the Chandler High School Men’s Choir onto the Opry Stage.

In a field of accomplished singers and longtime members, the Dixie District Seniors Chorus was named the International Seniors Chorus Festival Champion. They are led by director Jimmy Tompkins.

A Win For Youth and Heritage at #BHSOpry

The first day of contest and shows at the 2019 BHS Midwinter Convention was especially significant. It started with the first-ever Next Generation Junior Quartet Contest and ended with a barn-burning Heritage of Harmony Show on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

The significance of both events is the demonstration of the Barbershop Harmony Society’s ongoing mission of “Everyone in Harmony” with a focus on youth and the roots of barbershop in African-American music tradition.

15 young quartets, all singers under the age of 18, took the stage in front of a rowdy crowd in the ballroom at Opryland. There were both men’s and women’s quartets and one mixed quartet. While most of the singers were in high school, Elementary Mix from Quinton, NJ – a quartet of elementary school students – charmed the crowd with their rendition of “The Chordbusters March.”

At the end of the contest, the Quin-Tones, a men’s quartet from Salem, NJ, took home the gold medals with a score of 219 points, edging out both 2nd and 3rd by just one point. Singing “My Ideal,” these young gentlemen demonstrated musicality and personality far beyond their years.

Tying for 2nd and 3rd were Singing Double, a quartet of two sets of twins from Tampa, FL, and Vintage Mix, seasoned barbershopping quadruplets from Milwaukee, WI.

Singing Double
Singing Double; Photo: Rick Krebsbach
Vintage Mix
Vintage Mix; Photo: Rick Krebsbach

 

See the full results.

The excitement carried right across the street to the iconic Grand Ole Opry for the Heritage of Harmony Show, featuring The Fisk Jubilee Singers, The Fairfield Four, HALO, Crossroads, Signature, After Hours, and a cameo from Throwback.

The evening was a true celebration of barbershop not only coming to terms with a segregated past, but celebrating a new path forward where diversity and inclusion is paramount.

HALO and The Fairfield Four
HALO and The Fairfield Four at Grand Ole Opry

Gold for New England Voices In Harmony and Aged To Perfection

In two very hotly contested finals, Harmony, Incorporated now has a new champion chorus and four new Harmony Queens.

On Friday, New England Voices in Harmony of Nashua, New Hampshire topped the field with a 79.7%. The group performed a special Disney themed set in a risky director-less set, but proving that Director Renee Tramack had prepared them well, they sang “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted and “I See the Light” from Tangled in gorgeous jewel-tone gowns.

New England Voices in Harmony - 2018 Gold Medal Chorus
New England Voices in Harmony – 2018 Gold Medal Chorus

The Village Vocal Chords, under the direction of the legendary Jeanne O’Connor, took second place for the second time with a score of 78.9%. Jordan Travis and A Cappella Showcase from Milton, Ontario finished in third with 78.4%. Limestone City Voices and Sounds of the Seacoast round out the medals in fourth and fifth, respectively.

See the full scores for the Chorus Finals.

The contests came to a close on Saturday afternoon with the Quartet Finals that ended with Aged To Perfection winning the crown. This team of two mothers and daughters scored an incredible 80.7%, edging out T4 who finished with an 80.0%.

Aged To Perfection - 2018 Harmony Queens
Aged To Perfection – 2018 Harmony Queens

Alexa Beal, Gaye LaCasce, Kathy Pomer, and Ellie Pomer are now a long distance quartet and all first time queens. Scoring 1441 in the Semi-Final round with a phenomenal rendition of “Blues in the Night” and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?,” Aged To Perfection raised the bar in the Finals with a total score of 1463 singing a solemn “Cry Me A River” and a lively, and genuinely adorable uptune in “Together, Wherever We Go.”

Rounding out the medals were Area 3’s Lip Service finishing third with 76.0%, Area 2’s Balancing Act in fourth with 75.2%, and Tonic! in fifth with 73.8%. Tonic! was also honored with the Image in Harmony Award and the Accord Award.

See the fulls scores from the Quartet Finals.

The IC&C closed out with a Showcase of Champions to a room full of Harmony Sisters (and a T-Rex), marking the end of Christina Lewellen’s two-year term as International President. The gavel was turned over to Donna McKay, who will push forward with the new initiative, “Harmony. Stronger.”

Harmony, Inc. Names The Ten

25 quartets from across the U.S. and Canada crossed the stage in Orlando yesterday for the Semi-Final rounds at Harmony, Inc. International Contest & Convention.

Rogue & Lip Service at IC&C
Rogue & Lip Service at IC&C

The day started off with outgoing Queens, Charisma, on stage as Mic Testers and after the judges worked through some technical difficulties which had FireStorm performing twice, the day was filled with ringing chords, emotion, and laughter.

The top ten quartets will return to the stage on Saturday at 1 pm at the Hilton in Disney Springs. In performance order they are:

  1. Skyfall
  2. True Colors
  3. Rogue
  4. T4
  5. Aged to Perfection
  6. Balancing Act
  7. enJOY!
  8. Tonic!
  9. Lip Service
  10. Just Jump

Something Good finished in 11th with 71.6 and will be Saturday’s Mic Testers.

Other highlights from the day include a vampire-themed set from The Karamels, HALO’s rhythmic set with a little Stevie Wonder, a reprise of the Kismet Cowgirls, and a female empowerment set from High 5s which included a song about a dress with pockets (what every girl wants!)

The finals will be broadcast live on FloVoice.

Harmony, Inc. Installs New International Board

In a night of classy pomp and circumstance, Harmony, Incorporated opened up the 2018 International Contest and Convention in Orlando last night. The installation ceremony highlighted the organization’s commitment to youth, with three youth members – Emily Travis (age 9, Area 5), Bryn Lewellen (age 13, Area 3), and Vincenza Como (age 16, Area 6) – leading the evening.

The new International Board of Directors, who will embark on the organization’s new mission, “Harmony. Stronger.” is:

International President: Donna McKay
Vice President, Convention & Contests: Donna Clarkson
Vice President, Education: Kelly Thomas
Vice President, Finance: Christina Lewellen
Director of Business Services: Jan DelVecchio
Director of Communications: Mary Ann Wert
Director of Membership: Amy Johnson
Director of Music Programs: Katie Taylor

The evening also included a treat of a performance from BHS Quartet Silver Medalists, Signature. The contest action gets underway today at 1 pm with Quartet Semi-finals, which will air live on FloVoice.

Historic Night For Scottsdale Chorus

In a hotly contested chorus final, Scottsdale edged out the Harborlites by 5 points to win their first-ever consecutive gold medal at #SASTL. The dazzling set also earned them the audience award for Most Entertaining.

The now 6-time international champion presented “Top of the World Medley” with extensive front row work, which included gymnastics and cheer lifts. Under the leadership of Master Director Lori Lyford, the entire package was based around jumping in and learning to fly and the joyful energy was only augmented by incredible singing. Well, and trampolines, jump ropes, conga lines, audience participation, and a hint of…rap.

Enjoy their entire package from finals:

barbershop, Sweet Adelines, Scottsdale, chorus, harmony

The final scores worked out to:

1. Scottsdale (2982)
2. Harborlites (2977)
3. Rich-tones (2959)
4. Skyline (2801)
5. Pearls of the Sound (2697)
6. Song of Atlanta (2687)
7. Pride of Portland (2686)
8. City of Lakes (2605)
9. Metro Nashville (2604)
10.Buffalo Gateway (2528)

See the full scores.

Other highlights from finals included:

Buffalo Gateway Chorus built their package around the cold and snow of Buffalo, complete with hats, scarves, and gloves, and plenty of warm humor.

Skyline Chorus from Rocky Mountain Region 8 brought a robust sound with a dramatic (and funny) tribute to the superwoman inside all of us.

The Harborlites Chorus from Huntington Beach, CA, brought more dazzling front row footwork with cartwheels and lifts and lock and ring chords for days.

Harmony Heartland Region 4 was well-represented by Metro Nashville Chorus with a fairy tale search for a princess with a modern day twist that included “Brave” by Sara Bareilles.

City of Lakes from Minnesota brought a parade of costumes, music, and sound and a message of diversity and individuality, which included “Seasons of Love” from Rent.

All the way from Sweden, Pearls of the Sound transported us the burlesque shows of Paris, complete with a full drum kit, beatboxing, and cowbell.

Song of Atlanta also transported us to Moulin Rouge with a colorful story of love….and diamonds. The ladies also transfixed us with their voices and dance moves for the Can Can.

North by Northwest Region’s Pride of Portland took the stage with a full sound, excellent dynamics, and classy footwork in a tribute to “Hello, Dolly.”

The Rich-Tone Chorus out of Richardson, TX were greeted with exuberant applause and they kept that energy going straight through their set, celebrating 50 years as Sweet Adelines. The group proved to be equally entertaining in their stand and sing songs, as they were with their uptunes “Can’t Stop This Feeling” and “This is Me.”

See all of the videos from finals on the Sweet Adelines YouTube Channel.