By Ron Larson, Staff Writer
Masters of Harmony President Joe D'Amore has urged chorus members to see the limitations of the COVID eraas a blank slate upon which they can reinvent themselves. By immersing the chorus in available video technologies, the Masters can remain on the cutting edge of creativity. Doing so can bring the Masters of Harmony to the attention of otherwise hesitant singers who can easily sample the chorus from the safety and obscurity of a home video screen before venturing out to attend an in-person rehearsal. Such technologies can create performance audition videos for event planners who may consider booking the Masters. Joe's clear call to action reminds MOH members that for over 30 years, the Masters of Harmony have approached obstacles as stepping stones rather than as stumbling blocks.
Chorus rehearsals now start on Zoom for updated chorus information. Then they are switched to JackTrip for those who have the equipment and have learned how to use it. Members and guests without that ability can still participate in the rehearsals on Zoom without their voices being added to the mix. Hearing four-part harmony via JackTrip in real-time for the first time in over a year is an awesome experience! Most MOH rehearsals are attended by 80% of the current membership and the majority of those in attendance can participate with JackTrip. Those who need technical help can come to the scheduled 7:30 pm rehearsals at 7:00 pm and receive needed help.Such help has already been extended to other choruses interested in investing in JackTrip technology. Members providing technical assistance have included Mark Freedkin, Leonard Jensen, John Yost, and Lucas Purcell.
One of the ways the Masters of Harmony are trying to reach out to wider audiences is by singing different types of music in the barbershop style. One such song now being recorded is "We Got a World That Swings." It will be a music video with chorus audio and short clips of video with scenes of swing dancing mixed in. Another ongoingproject is to join with other championship choruses for a nationwide recording of "Stars and Stripes Forever." Taking this format even further, the Masters will partner with international singers in a rendition of "All Nations Rise." Plans are underway for a live Christmas show at Colony High School in Ontario for matinee and evening performances. The stage will be shared with Colony's choral students on Sunday, December 4, 2021, pending health advisories in place at that time. Stay tuned!.
The possibility of promoting Masters of Harmony musical activities online is an exciting one, says MOH VP of Marketing Bart Halberstadt. "The Society is willing to stream most anything we do on their YouTube channel. We are making plans to work with marketing officers from other major choruses to see how we can effectively generate and share donations." Accordingly, the Masters reached out to a new audience by sending its video of "Joy to the World" for viewing at the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival held on the weekend of February 27-28. MOH was by far the largest group to participate and the only group to perform in the barbershop style. The showing was a success and drew a number of favorable comments during the live chat feature. Special kudos go to Grant Goldstein and Jeremy Loper for invaluable help in getting Masters members up to speed in the new world of virtual recordings.
The Masters of Harmony have reintroduced MasterLine to all friends and fans on the Constant Contact email distribution list. This quarterly email newsletter contains shorter, general interest stories on the chapter and the chorus. It can also be found on our public website.
One of the sources of income for the Masters of Harmony is a grant from the LA County Department of Arts and Culture (LACDAC). When COVID restrictions shut down performance opportunities, it appeared grantees like MOH might lose this source of funding. However, LACDAC decided to allow its grantees to continue receiving funds. In addition, LA County arranged to be the intermediary for federal funds designated for COVID relief. Its COVID Relief Fund helps offset losses and expenses grantees incurred as a result of COVID. Thanks to Grants Manager Rich Owen, MOH applied for and received such a grant. Funds from such grants helped pay for the JackTrip equipment now being used by MOH members.
Throughout its 30-plus-year history, one constant contributor to MOH success has been the skilled, tireless, inspirational work of Brett Littlefield. What some in the MOH family may not know is how widely those attributes are known and shared throughout the barbershop world. Recently, his many contributions were honored by the Far Western District when he was named to the Far Western District Hall of Fame. Congratulations, Brett!
It is with great sadness the Masters of Harmony announce the passing of Rich Martinez. He earned three gold medals with the chorus singing lead and was a steadfast member of the chapter for over 30 years. US Army Colonel (ret.) and MOH VP-Public Relations Larry Icenogle blew Taps for Rich at the WWII veteran's funeral.