Every Audience Knows

Masters of Harmony “Medal Madness” Show Review

Lou Tedesco, May 19, 2006

The Terrace Theater is not a baroque masterpiece. There are no Rococo gargoyles or glitzy panels on its walls. This is a no-nonsense performance hall, a full production theater used year round for performing arts. The Terrace is the centerpiece of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. Its critically acclaimed acoustics made it the venue of choice for the Long Beach Symphony.

The grounds include marble patios and balustrades and remarkable fountains. With a view to the ocean from its west wings, it’s no wonder that events from weddings to opera have selected The Terrace.

However, on this day, Saturday April 29, 2006, The Terrace became a musical variety theater, featuring two shows encompassing six hours of successive barbershop singing acts.

Hosted by the Masters of Harmony and with the remarkably talented (his words) Jeff Baker performing as the master of ceremonies, one magnificent ensemble after another was introduced - first to an appreciative, almost sold-out matinee audience; and then in the evening to an absolutely wild barbershop-friendly audience who exceeded all expectations.

The audience reactions were justifiably anticipated, considering the MOH had compiled the best of the best in this genre of music. The performers included:

Realtime, 2005 and current International Quartet Champion
Harborlites, 2005 Sweet Adelines International Chorus Champion
Westminster, 2005-2006 Far Western District Chorus Champion
OC Times, 2005 International 5th Place Bronze Medalist Quartet
Hi-Fidelity, 2005-2006 Far Western District Quartet Champion . . . and
Masters of Harmony, Six-time and 2005 International Chorus Champion.

Over 200 individual singers had earned either District or International distinction. The international gold medals alone would have tipped the balance of the gold market.

Following the performance on Saturday evening and into the weekend, unsolicited accolades poured in to individual Masters of Harmony members.

Realtime showed the brilliance that convinced the judges (last July) that they were the best in the world.

OC Times and Hi-Fidelity captivated the audiences with their distinctive styles.

How do so few young men of Westminster create such a huge impression.

Topping all this off was the outstanding female counterpart of the Masters of Harmony. Harborlites are a delight of energy, four-part harmony, and choreography. These two choral groups complement each other to perfection.

MOH writer assistants solicited additional comments in an informal “exit poll.” The following list of comments is not exhaustive. Consolidated, however, they portray something very special.

Performance is outstanding. I like the pace – it keeps moving – there’s no white space. All this talent on stage with the Masters – Realtime, OC Times, Westminster. Wow!
—Pete Hensley, Fallbrook

Thank you for a fabulous concert! It was the best one to date. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The notes were so pure and enunciation so perfect that it seemed that the audience was holding its breath at times to hear the endings. The choreography truly added a welcome dimension to the Masters’ performance. Wow, and to hear the three quartets…. what an awesome experience! Some of our favorite pieces of the evening were the Scottish ballad, spiritual “Go Down, Moses,” the salute to the Armed Forces and “Shenandoah.” What a wonderful variety in American Music.
—Norman and Carolyn Sillman, Alhambra

Fantastic – reviving my soul.  We don’t see enough of these young guys.
—Denise Weeds, Temple City

Oh, my gosh, I am speechless – the new material – I have never heard a show this good!
—Sharon Orsi, Mission Viejo

It’s phenomenal – my first time and I am having a ball.
—Jeannine Greenwood, Aliso Viejo

While the vast majority of comments were congratulatory in nature, there were also some critical comments, primarily from the matinee audience. Here is one of those:

They’re doing a great job, but I miss the more traditional Barbershop style.
—Anonymous long-time male fan

Positive reaction to the debut of “Go Down, Moses” was overwhelming from both patrons and performers. From this singer’s impression, I was happily at a loss for words and remembered the comments of Ian McEwan in his remarkable, coincidently named best seller “Saturday.”

“There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they’ve ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything you have to others, but lose nothing of yourself.”

Early Saturday morning, prior to the Masters call time, I stood for a few reflective minutes on the cavernous stage of the Terrace Theater. Only a few early risers and some busy Masters “roadies” were visible in and about the over 3000 seats on three levels. A few of my singing brothers were already standing in their riser spots as if to say, “I’m here, let’s get it on.”

I truly believe that all of us knew this would be a special day and that Mark Hale and Pam Pieson would be proud of the results. Best ever? Perhaps – but the real answer was with our audiences – for at the end, they would know that on this day, for us, the world was the stage and the stage was the world. And they would be entertained.

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