In 2019, the Barbershop Harmony Society expanded their youth offerings to include the Next Generation Junior Quartet Contest and Chorus Invitational. Aside from shining a light on the youngest barbershoppers – those 18 and younger – it was also the first international contest open to all genders.
In its second year, the Junior Quartet Contest has grown beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. The robust field of 15 competing groups showcased a jaw-dropping amount of talent from teenagers from around the country. While only 3 medals were awarded, every group was greeted with a near deafening standing ovation. You couldn’t find a more welcoming and enthusiastic sold out crowd anywhere.
Each group performed one song for a panel of judges on a similar rubric to other BHS contests, but out of a total score of 35. This year’s judges were Renee Tramack (Singing), a two-time Harmony Queen and Director of New England Voices in Harmony, Sandi Wright (Performance), a Queen of Harmony, Director of St..Louis Vocal Project, and a certified judge and director in SAI, HI, and BHS, and David Wright (Music), the Associate Director of the Ambassadors of Harmony and arguably the most sought after arranger in all of barbershop.
With the scores tallied, BHS awarded their first ever gold medal to a women’s quartet – Singing Double. Singing Double earned a score of 22.2, to top a field of quartets that were so talented, the full room of seasoned barbershoppers simultaneously felt challenged by this new crop of singers, while also being excited about the future of the art form.
Singing the jazz standard My Foolish Heart, Singing Double sang with incredible poise, impeccable blend, and a true display of talent, well beyond their years.They will be the first women to have their picture hung on the wall of champions at Harmony Hall in Nashville.
This quartet, comprised of 2 sets of twins, is coached by the legendary Debbie Cleveland, a lifelong music education, a two-time Queen of Harmony, and the 2018 recipient of the BHS NAfME Educator of the Year Award. Cleveland was also this year’s Midwinter Keynote Speaker.
In second places was yet another women’s quartet, Best Sellers. This Onalaska, WI quartet scored a 19.8 to earn the silver. With a score of 19.6, Atchison, KS-based mixed Quartet, Default, took home the bronze medal.
The audience was also treated to performances by the inaugural Next Gen Junior Quartet Champions, The Quin-Tones, the NextGen Varsity Quartet Champions, Wildfire, and the 2019 Sweet Adelines Rising Star Champions, Duly Noted.
After a quick break, the convention moved to the Florida Theatre for and Opening Night Showcase with performances by Singing Double, The Quin-Tones, Wildfire, and Duly Noted, as well as 5th place medalist quartet, Midtown, and 2019 International Champions, Signature.
Today, the Convention turns their attention to the choruses, as both the Junior and Senior Choruses will spend the day on stage at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, highlighting the talents of the oldest and youngest members of the Barbershop Harmony Society.