Masters of Harmony Update - Winter 2017

Ron Larson, Oct 24, 2017

The first performances for the Masters of Harmony after winning their first gold medal in San Francisco in 1990 and their ninth in Las Vegas in 2017 were for faith-based audiences. In 1990, the Masters performed a show titled “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. In 2017, the Masters provided the entertainment for a unique program called “Music and Meals” at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach. After attending a late-afternoon Saturday service, congregants mingled in an outdoor patio outside the sanctuary, selected from a variety of delicious dishes served cafeteria style, then joined their friends at one of the circular tables to enjoy first-class food and world-class music by the newly crowned International chorus champions. With the sun shining in chorus members’ eyes, Director Justin Miller allowed those who wished to wear sunglasses, adding even more of a laid-back look to the already-relaxed appearance of singers in their Class B jeans and chorus shirts. Fortunately, the sun went down just before the Masters sang the contest set that won them gold in Las Vegas five weeks earlier. The outdoor setting in a patio between two sets of buildings provided surprisingly good acoustics that allowed Justin to shape the chorus sound to great effect while amplifying the long, loud audience applause that engulfed the chorus throughout the concert. St. Andrews Minister Rachel Stone, one of the event organizers, said the audience was the largest since the beginning of the program.

On October 7, the Masters took part in a unique fundraising event at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia by singing the National Anthem before the first race. The place from which they sang was, appropriately, the Winner’s Circle, a world-famed site once graced by equine champions such as Seabiscuit, Swaps, Affirmed, Zenyatta, and California Chrome. After the performance, some stayed to enjoy the ambiance of a private picnic area.

Not long after the hurricane season left enormous devastation in parts of our country, Masters members had a “Pass-the-Hat” solicitation where they opened their hearts and wallets to the tune of over $1200 to be sent to hurricane relief organizations.

On October 11, the following members were elected to the Masters of Harmony 2018 Board of Directors: President Jackson Niebrugge; Secretary Maurice Freleaux; Treasurer Skip Farrar; VP-Chapter Development Cody Littlefield; VP-Music & Performance Patrick Haedtler; VP-Operations Foster Howlett; VP-Public Relations Michael Van Schoonhoven; Board Members-at-Large Charles Carothers, Lucas Purcell, Ed Schackman, Brent Schultz, Robert Shelton, and Walter Tang. These newly elected chapter leaders will be installed at the Annual Awards and Installation of Officers Banquet set for Saturday, January 6, 2018, at the Yorba Linda Country Club.

On October 21, the Masters traveled to Bakersfield’s Rabobank Convention Center to take part in the 2017 Far Western District Fall Convention. Performing as the outgoing 2016 Far Western District Chorus Champion and current International Chorus Champion, the MOH reprised the contest set that won gold in Las Vegas. The hometown audience responded to the set with the same sort of sustained thunderous applause that greeted the Masters in Las Vegas ten weeks ago. Then the Masters introduced the audience to a powerful, emotionally stirring paean to the power of faith and hope, “Simple Gifts,” a Shaker song written and composed in 1847 by Elder Joseph Brackett. The musical DNA of the arrangement sung by the Masters in Bakersfield was pure gold. Gary Lewis (tenor of 2000 International Quartet Champion Platinum and baritone of 2007 International Quartet Champion Max Q) arranged the song for the 2017 AIC Champions Chorus, which performed it at the 2017 Las Vegas AIC Show. While the full chorus sang much of the song, The Newfangled Four and an out-front VLQ sang several sections that added dramatic effect and produced another standing ovation from the appreciative audience.

Congratulations to our brothers in The Westminster Chorus, winners of the chorus competition with a score of 92.9% and to Suit Up!, who captured the Far Western District quartet title.

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