• Masters of Harmony

Quarterly Updates

Masters of Harmony Update – Fall 2022

By Ron Larson, Staff Writer

The Masters of Harmony Preparation for the Charlotte 2022 Contest

The Chorus Weekend Retreat in Temecula

Before every international contest in Masters of Harmony history, chorus members attended a three-day "retreat," often in a sylvan setting a mile high in local mountains, to focus on bringing that year's contest set as close to perfection as possible. For the 2022 contest in Charlotte, the retreat was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Temecula, California.

On Friday evening, the Masters of Harmony's "Dream Team" of Director Alan Gordon, coaches Erin Howden and Tony De Rosa, picked up where they had left off in coaching sessions weeks earlier. Both coaches worked seamlessly with Alan to help 77 Masters of Harmony singers go beyond practiced facial expressions and staged moves. By the end of the last session on Sunday morning, the chorus had made dramatic changes designed to create an inspirational performance in Charlotte.

The Masters of Harmony Celebrate the Life of Dr. Greg Lyne

On Saturday, June 11, the Masters of Harmony family gathered to honor the legacy of Dr. Greg Lyne, one of the world's most talented choral directors. Under his leadership, the fledgling Masters of Harmony chorus grew from 23 members to over 100 and the chorus won three international chorus championships.

The tribute began with a mass in St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach followed by a Celebration of Life service at The Reef, a restaurant with beautiful views of the Long Beach waterfront. Attendees and livestream viewers alike viewed performances by several notable quartet champions: Revival (Royce Ferguson, Mike Lawton, Mike Spencer, and Jeff Solano filling in for Bill Myers) sang "Sentimental Gentleman from Georgia" and "It Is Well With My Soul;" Nightlife (Rob Menaker, John Sasine, Brett Littlefield and Cody Littlefield filling in for Jeff Baker) sang "Love's Old Sweet Song" and "One Moment in Time." The final tribute was performed by a Legacy Chorus made up of MOH members and other singers Greg had directed. The chorus sang the inspirational "Unclouded Day" and "There Used to Be a Ballpark." They also sang "Somewhere," by Leonard Bernstein, someone Greg always admired. The service closed with "Keep The Whole World Singing," a perfect coda for a life devoted to bringing beautiful choral music to so many others. Rest in peace, Dr. Greg!

The Masters of Harmony Spring Show

On June 23, the Masters of Harmony presented "Here's To The Dreamers…LA Stories" at Citrus College's Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, California. When the curtain rose after a two-year performance absence, Masters singers delivered songs with such precision and emotional impact that the audience responded repeatedly with thunderous applause. After singing "This Is The Moment," the chorus debuted the Charlotte contest set – "Audition" from La La Land and "Defying Gravity." The uplifting story wonderfully portrayed by Ernie Reyes describes the struggles of a hopeful but struggling entertainer pursuing personal dreams, experiencing continued rejection, but digging deep to find layers of inner strength help him to rise above the naysayers and reach his dream. Audience members weary of two years of angst responded with an instant standing ovation.

The Charlotte Chorus Contest Experience in Perspective

With the send-off memory of that standing ovation still ringing in their ears, with several outstanding rehearsals tweaked by Erin Howden and Tony De Rosa, chorus members liked their chances for a successful run at a 10th chorus gold medal. Instead, for the first time in its illustrious three-decade history, there would be no medal at all as the chorus finished in 6th place. Failure to live up to such lofty expectations will lead to careful, honest self-examination and changes in the weeks to come. However, when Director Alan Gordon read all of the judges' scores, it became quite apparent that on this particular day and time, the Masters simply did not perform well enough to win a medal and that the judges scored them properly.

Nevertheless, during the contest week, the Masters family did experience some truly wonderful "golden moments."

  1. After hearing the Masters perform "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)/City of Stars Medley," arranger Kirk Young paid the chorus the ultimate compliment when he said, "I heard in my head what I put on paper." He added that he was humbled by what he heard being given back to him and he thanked the chorus for bringing his arrangement to life.
  2. In 1992, Joe D'Amore was inducted into the Masters of Harmony Hall of Fame. For some unknown reason, a proclamation noting his many contributions to the success of the chorus at that time was not presented to him. Longtime MOH member Bernard Priceman remedied that when he read a proclamation noting how Joe not only helped get the fledgling chorus up and running in 1985 but has been an indispensable guiding light in so many ways ever since. In the dark days on the onset of the Covid pandemic, Joe worked tirelessly to keep the existence of the Masters of Harmony a reality.
  3. Erin Howden had each member of the chorus briefly describe what Director Alan Gordon meant to him. As each man took his turn, what followed was one of the most emotionally moving tributes ever bestowed on a Masters of Harmony director. To all in attendance at the tribute, some in tears, it was obvious how deeply loved Alan is by the men he directs each week.

Finally, Alan helped put the Charlotte experience in better perspective when he said, "It saddened me temporarily that we did not win a medal, but there is a tomorrow, and we don't even have to wait long to step into it. Every week needs to be a journey. There are so few people who get the blessing that we do to share music at a high level on a weekly basis with people we love. To the future!"

Membership Changes

Since the last issue of Westunes, Mitchell Sampang was welcomed into membership and former members Royce Ferguson, Mike Nicholes and Emilio Pichardo were approved for reinstatment.