That’s Two in A Row!
When the Masters of Harmony won the international chorus championship in 1990, they were flying through the air. But as they prepared for their trip to Calgary in 1993, they could almost taste their upcoming victory. The Masters increased their membership by 12% from 107 in San Francisco to 121 on stage in Calgary, of which 37 of those members did not compete in San Francisco. With most of the hard work behind them, they knew that they would do it again.
With over 40 performances and recording two albums in the three years following their first win, they had plenty of chances to hone their skills. One of their most thrilling performances was on March 3, 1991, when they sang in the magnificent Crystal Cathedral during Dr. Robert Schuller’s televised “Hour of Power.” The Gulf War had just ended and patriotism was at an all-time high. The chorus first performed “I Believe.” Then, an enormous American flag that filled the entire width of the Cathedral was raised behind them as they sang their patriotic medley of “America,” “My Country Tis Of Thee,” and “God Bless America.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including most of the members of the Masters.
Again, the Masters of Harmony used some very talented people in their quest for Calgary Gold. Wayne Mendes, who is one of the founding members of the Masters, worked hard at teaching the members of the chorus the choreography. He conducted several Saturday sessions for those men who needed special assistance. He setup the “Wedge Wars” at a retreat weekend. This good-natured contest was held between the eight wedges that formed the chorus. The front row members assisted the riser members with their moves and facial expressions. A special guest at this retreat was Carl Hancuff, bass of the Salt Flats Quartet and a retired Stage Presence judge, served as chairman of judges for the wedge contest.
For musical support, the Masters are very fortunate to have Dave Briner on the Music Committee. He has arranged many of the chorus’s songs, including this year’s contest uptune medley of “I Had Someone Else Before I Had You,” and “Who’s Sorry Now?” Don Clause again contributed his insightful thoughts concerning interpretation, and Larry Ajer continued to share his talents with the chorus in the area of stage presence. Cindy Hansen, the chorus’s choreographer, not only designed the contest package but also provided ongoing inspiration and coaching for the entire chorus repertoire.
At the end of the contest, there was a buzz among the thousands at the Saddledome. Would Northbrook’s stage presence beat out the sound of the Masters? But, when it came time to announce the 1993 International Chorus Champion, everyone knew who had captured the gold… the Foothill Cities Chapter, under the direction of Dr. Greg Lyne, the Masters of Harmony!