Youth and Seniors Enliven Midwinter Convention

J.D. Ahmanson, Feb 3, 2010

The presence of the Masters of Harmony was keenly felt at the 2010 International Midwinter Convention in Tampa, Florida. Appearing on stage with 2009’s quartet medalists was the 2009 Bank of America Collegiate Quartet Champion The Vagrants, while Doug Maddox fulfilled backstage duties. Enjoying the festivities were MOH Director Mark Hale, Far Western District President Bernard Priceman, The Westminster Chorus Director Justin Miller, John & Sharon Miller, Shawn York, Sean Devine, Joe & Jackie Palmquist, Art Taylor, Allan Webb, and your correspondent.

Friday night’s Show of Champions began with the spotlight on Doug Maddox, in his trademark black “production attire,” supposedly caught unaware by the spotlight and acting out emcee Keith Hopkins’ pre-show announcements. This was followed by 2006 and 2008 Seniors Champions Antique Gold and Eureka!, respectively. The Vagrants then wowed the audience with “Chordbusters March,” including a never-ending, ever-escalating, locked and ringing tag. This was followed by a Suntones favorite, “Hospitality.” The two fourth-place Bronze Medalists (there was a tie last year) Ringmasters and State Line Grocery then sang, the latter for the last time as a quartet. Next, completely off program, The Vagrants were joined by Ringmasters and Tim Waurick to sing “Lux Aurumque,” to the wonder and delight of the record crowd, many of whom were in the youth chorus competition and were familiar with the choral works of Aurumque composer Eric Whitacre. The show ended with the Toast of Tampa Chorus, 1993 Sweet Adelines International Champion. The chorus was directed by Tony DeRosa, who even donned a tutu.

Saturday was the 3rd International Youth Chorus Festival Contest, featuring eleven choruses made up of men under 25, divided into three plateaus based on age. Several choruses sang OC Times and Westminster tunes, a tribute to the influence of those ground-breaking groups. The Vagrants sang during score tabulation, again to great applause. Savannah Storm from Georgia took the Plateau A trophy (18 or less), and Vokal Kombat won the AAA prize (22-24). The AA Plateau winner was 52eighty (19-21) of the Rocky Mountain District, directed by Chris Vaughn, who received the trophy from The Vagrants. 52eighty was named the overall Grand Champion.

Following the contest, a light rain fell on the city, but this did not deter local residents who participated in the century-old Gasparilla Pirate Festival. Many barbershoppers were seen later adorned with beads and other pirate paraphernalia.

Saturday night’s show again began with Doug Maddox surprised by the spotlight. This time Keith parodied the familiar announcements of flight attendants, saying that the seat cushions of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center could be used as a floatation device. Doug acted out every announcement, including how to put on a life vest, but brought the house down when Keith’s announcement about a sudden depressurization was accompanied by an airplane oxygen mask descending from the rafters. Once the silliness was over, FWD’s Audacity sang as newly retired seniors champ. Third place Bronze Medalist Storm Front had the audience in stitches, while Silver Medalist Old School calmed with rich singing. Current quartet champs Crossroads impressed everyone with their mix of inspirational, comical, and virtuoso songs. The Pioneer District’s Resisting-A-Rest won the seniors gold medal. The grand finale of the evening was “Let There Be Peace On Earth” featuring the medalist quartets, backed by the Association of International Senior Quartet Champions and The Vagrants. Naturally, MOH contributed all-night taggers at the Sheraton Riverwalk.

Midwinter conventions allow youthful competitors to experience the best quartets in the world and witness a barbershop contest (seniors), hopefully realizing that barbershopping can (and should!) be a lifelong experience. With the next two midwinters in the FWD (Las Vegas, 2011; Tucson, 2012), this reporter encourages every MOHer to attend and support the future of our art form.

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