Christmas 2005 - The Best MOH Show Ever?

November 26, 2005

Dane Hutchins, Dec 6, 2005

No doubt the Masters of Harmony has presented many excellent performances over the years. But fans in the Carpenter Center audience for our November 26th program would have us believe that this one was easily our best.

In preparation for the show, the production team and designer Gerry Papageorge had outdone themselves by creating several colorful decorative sets that were changed frequently during the course of each performance. The music leadership team had booked popular guest artists who had their own followings – the All-American Boys Chorus, electric violinist-extraordinaire Drew Tretick and the Masters’ favorite soloist, Pam Pieson. Adding their followers to the MOH fan base combined for two sold-out performances, building high spirits that filled the auditorium. As each performance unfolded, the audience seemed captivated by the variety and musicality of the show, applauding at every turn. They seemed particularly pleased by the rapid-paced quartets, serving up short but satisfying portions of beloved Christmas songs. When saxophone- and harmonica-wielding Les Weiser and the chorus finished “Please Come Home For Christmas,” the audience exploded in a standing ovation.

Interviews following the performances brought enthusiastic praise from all corners. And this was not just a matter of people politely telling us what we wanted to hear. Each conversation was an excited, almost effusive outpouring from admiring fans.

Spotting an interviewer with microphone in hand, Bud and Donna Thornton from Riverside rushed up, eager to talk. “I’ve been listening to barbershop for more than 25 years and I’ve never heard anything like this,” Bud exclaimed. Donna wholeheartedly agreed, saying, “This was just wonderful!”

Nearly half of those interviewed had never before heard the Masters; they came with friends or to hear one of the guest artists. All had amazed expressions on their faces. Ora and Carol Lanton from Upland blurted, “The entire show was just fantastic! That guy with the harmonica was super! What a voice!”

Jim and Donna Arnold from South Pasadena recalled Weiser’s calypso Christmas songs from the previous year’s show. Donna averred, “I enjoyed the whole show, especially Pam Pieson. Thank you so much.”

One woman loved that the program wasn’t apologetic about celebrating Christmas.

Several people said they had come to hear the All-American Boys Chorus and hadn’t previously heard the Masters. Edith Whaley from Riverside was “just overwhelmed” by the quality of the Masters' performance. “When is your next show?” she asked. “I’ll be there” was her eager response when told we’d be at the Terrace Theater in April.

Asked what we could do to make our show even better, the nearly unanimous response was akin to “I can’t think of anything” or “It was just wonderful” or “Nothing!” Only one person had a suggestion: She wanted to hear more of the Masters and less of the others!

Many people walked past the microphone without giving their names, as the crowd pushed them along, but still blurting out their praises: “Fantastic”, “wonderful” and “this was the best show ever.”

Objectively speaking, it might be difficult to position this version of the chorus qualitatively ahead of the excellent performers and performances of the past. But having so many audience members say it has to make MOH leaders pleased with the progress of the chorus going forward. What is our secret? Hard work; regular attendance and heart – plus it helps to have so much talent in our director, our members and show production team!

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