There were a lot of hurdles to overcome since the Masters’ victory in Salt Lake City. Greg Lyne had decided to leave the chorus to share his musical talents with the Society. This left a huge hole that was not easy to fill. But with a very solid board of directors that worked hand in hand with the chapter’s music team, the Masters of Harmony grew stronger and stronger. They had to fulfill two things in 1999. One was challenging enough by itself, hosting the 61st International Convention in Anaheim. The other was trying to win the gold for the fourth time at the same convention. This had only been done once before. In 1954, the Singing Capital Chorus hosted and won an international contest.
In 1998, Jeff Oxley took over the reins as music director. It was quite a change from Greg’s ways of directing to Jeff’s. But after many hours of hard work, the Masters were successful at both the divisional and district levels. The chapter had suffered a tremendous loss during this time. One of their fondest coaches, Larry Ajer, passed away. David Wright and Larry were the closest of friends. David had arranged many a song for the Masters. He started arranging the Masters’ uptune with what he had learned from Larry. He presented the Masters with “California, Here I Come” and dedicated it to Larry Ajer. With this wonderful new uptune in hand, embellished by the choreographic geniuses of Cindy Hansen and Wayne Mendes, the Masters dedicated this contest to Larry.
Larry’s wife, Kim, added an extra emotional element to our reprise of the ballad “When Day Is Done” by sharing with us her heartfelt words of encouragement and appreciation for the bond of love we shared with her husband. Her tears and tender words added an additional depth and poignancy to our performance of the already powerful lyric. With the help of Greg Lyne, Jim and Greg Clancy, and Joe Connelly, we fine tuned this package and felt confident that we would be successful in Anaheim.
And then it was time. All the preparations were in place. It was our turn on stage. As we waited backstage as Northbrook finished their set, all we could hear was the roar from the crowd. It must have been a wonderful package to get that kind of response. But now it’s OUR turn…
An hour later, winning by 2 points… the 1999 International Chorus Champion, Masters of Harmony!