The Westminster Chorus and Masters Quartets Carry Far Western District Hopes to Philly

Bernard Priceman, Jun 24, 2010

Like many of you, I attended the “Go for the Gold” Show last Saturday night. For 27 years this has been a way for the quartets qualifying for the upcoming International Quartet Contest to showcase their contest sets and entertain the crowd. And what a crowd they were! They’re never the largest, but they are the warmest and most enthusiastic around. For the quartets, it’s like singing for their family, because that’s what we are in the Far Western District – one big barbershop family. Three of the four qualifying quartets are made up entirely of MOH members (including emeritus members). They are Masterpiece (Rob Menaker, Patrick Haedtler, Alan Gordon and Brett Littlefield), The Edge (Tom Moore, Jason Remley, Sam Papageorge and J Friedman) and The Vagrants (Joey Buss, Jonny Tillery, Colin Plain and David Meye). The fourth quartet, Catcher Block, included Emeritus Kelly Shepard and former member James Sabina.

How proud we will be in Philadelphia to see our MOH quartets compete! No other chorus has so many top quality quartets as MOH, which is why we are continuously asked: “How do you breed so many great quartets in your chorus?” I guess it’s just in the air in Santa Fe Springs, as part of our culture. We provide the environment, and up they pop!

The quartet contest is sure to be exciting, but the talk of the convention is the contest between The Vocal Majority and Westminster. When they came up against each other in Indianapolis in 2006, it was only the second time the big “W” had competed at the International level. Westminster may have been less than 40% of the size of VM that day, but gosh, did they ever give VM (and the audience) a shock! Westminster lost by just 17 points in 3,000, but they were undoubtedly the crowd favorites. Now the world waits for July 2nd. The audience of 8,000+ is going to be able to hear a pin drop as they wait for the top two choruses to be announced. My heart is already pumping!

I know you will join me in sending our best wishes to every one of our great FWD competitors, including Dr. Greg Lyne’s Voices in Harmony up in San Jose. Yet again, the Far Western District will show the barbershop world that we are musically THE best in the Society. Be sure to give a great sendoff to everyone you see on Wednesday and wish them luck. A hug wouldn’t harm, either. And thank them for representing us the way they are sure to do.

[Editorial supplement: The next night following the “Go for the Gold” Show, The Westminster Chorus held its own showcase evening as part of its preparation for Philadelphia, at the Westminster Senior Centre. Several hundred friends and family squeezed into a smallish hall to hear W perform their contest set three times amidst cheers, whistles, and multiple ovations as they just got better, showing vocal crispness and physical agility that no one can match! Plus the three Masters quartets – Masterpiece, The Edge and The Vagrants – were joined by non-competitor (this year only) The Crush (Matt Gray, Josh Szolomayer, Paul Tabone and John Brockman), all MOH, singing sweet and funny music that will likely catapult them soon into the top tier. What great benefits come from being in this family! A rumor was going around that a VM spy was in the audience and was seen weeping as he left the hall. But perhaps I made that up. --Kirt Thiesmeyer]

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