Young Men's Harmony Festival: Nine Years and Counting

February 21, 2009

Mark Freedkin, Feb 25, 2009

The Masters of Harmony and Southern California Vocal Association co-sponsored the 9th Annual Young Men’s Harmony Festival this past weekend. Over 200 young men from 24 high schools throughout Southern California attended this year’s unique musical event, and the feedback from students, parents and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive. The evening show, which was nothing less than stellar, featured performances by the young men’s chorus, foursomes from Patriot, Tesoro, La Habra and Jurupa Valley high schools, OC Times, The Crush, Masterpiece and Masters of Harmony, and culminated with a combined finale with over 300 singers on stage. This year’s event brings our nine-year total to just over 1900 students who have participated in one or more of our festivals.

We were also fortunate to have Ken Potter, Justin Miller and Alan Gordon joining me as clinicians and directors, and they did a great job working with the young men.

As an unexpected (but extremely pleasant) surprise, one of the choral directors who attended the evening show was a former president of SCVA. Although he had always been apprehensive about barbershop harmony in the past, an extremely persuasive colleague (and a regular supporter of our festivals) finally convinced him to give it a try this year. After the show, he made a point of telling me how impressed he was with every aspect of the show, including the quality of singing from the guest quartets and MOH. He confessed that he had been merely “tolerating” our activities in the past, but now he was a true believer.

Also observed after the show were choral directors Keith Hancock (Tesoro HS) and Andrew Bearden (Morse HS) doing the “Sing With The Champs” thing with OC Times. We understand that both directors had participated in the Society’s Collegiate Barbershop Quartet Contest in the past. A high school quartet also enjoyed singing “Come Fly With Me” with the 2008 Champs.

As always, this festival could not have been as successful without help from so many members of the MOH family. Our thanks go to:

  • Tom Christman and his team for unloading and loading the trailer and handling riser setup and teardown
  • Ron & Dolores Van Winkle for helping with registration and name-tags
  • Jim Holder for selling show tickets
  • Jackie Palmquist for distributing and collecting all of the bow ties and cummerbunds
  • J Friedman for the stirring voice-over narration for “America The Beautiful”
  • Bernard Priceman for serving as MC for the evening show
  • Doug Maddox, Sharon Ernsberger and Bonney Andreas for providing all of the back-stage technical direction
  • Dan Seymour for bringing the soft drinks, chips and cookies
  • Jim Haggerty for setting up and taking down the sales booth
  • All the MOH members who served as hosts for the schools, helped with logistics and chaperoning throughout the day, and sang the combined numbers with the young men during the afternoon rehearsal
  • All the MOH Sweethearts who helped with serving meals, taking show tickets, distributing show programs, and selling CD (yes, we sold only one)
Special thanks go to OC Times and The Crush for serving as section leaders and being such great role models for all the young men. This event simply could not happen without their talent and generosity.

And an extra special thank-you goes to my wife Shellie for helping with so many of the behind-the-scenes preparations before the event, and delivering the Arby’s sandwiches for lunch and preparing the always-delicious pasta dinner for the faculty and staff on the day of the event.

Feedback from Choral Music Teachers

Congratulations on another successful festival. My guys had a great time, and they sang all the way home on Saturday night!

Craig Gruenberg
Director of Choral Vocal Music
Granada Hills Charter High School



Thank you so much for another wonderful day for our young men. My singers have participated in this event every year for the past nine years, and this was by far the best ever. You and your crew of dedicated volunteers have done another outstanding job, and I am very appreciative of all that you do for choral music in our schools and for our young people.

Congratulations to the Masters of Harmony and OC Times on their recent championships!


Scott Hedgecock
Director of Choral Music
Fullerton Union High School



This year’s festival was absolutely incredible! Many thanks to you, the quartets and Masters of Harmony for a fantastic day. Please let us know the date of next year’s festival, so we can plan the rest of our year around your event.

Roger Estrada
Director of Choral Vocal Music
Upland High School


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