July 9, 2005; 12:45 p.m. After giving the performances of their lives, the men of the Masters of Harmony were back in the audience, closely watching each chorus that followed them onto the LDS Conference Center stage, each man now wearing his judging hat, privately evaluating every challenger to an MOH win.
Several choruses presented high-quality performances but, as expected, the Toronto Northern Lights chorus was MOH’s number one rival for the top spot. The chorus’s entrance was inventive, artistic, clever, fun and funny, the set being skillfully painted with a troupe of mimes. As the performance unfolded, the audience was delighted by TNL’s presentation and, when the final notes rang out, a standing ovation burst forth, with some of the most enthusiastic applause coming from the Masters themselves. Immediately, seeds of doubt began sprouting. Could the MOH presentation yet prevail over the excellent performance they had just witnessed?
Yes! Final tallies: MOH 2807 points – TNL 2764 (93.6% to 92.1%), giving the Masters of Harmony their sixth consecutive International Gold Medal over fifteen years!
In the final analysis, was there an overriding factor that provided MOH their 43-point advantage? Simply put, passion filled every measure of the performance.
Two magnificent songs, splendidly arranged, were filled with passion. Ed Waesche’s wonderful arrangement of ‘Time After Time’ demonstrated the loving sensitivity of a man for a woman, the passion every person feels for a special someone, the emotional energy that everyone yearns for. David Wright’s extremely energetic arrangement of ‘Roll On, Mississippi, Roll On’ connects all with the joyous passion of one man, impatient to finally return home to the friends, family and wonderful memories of his youth.
Preparations for the contest were masterfully planned and timed by Director Mark Hale, himself a veteran of high-scoring performances, as a quartet performer (2001 champion, Michigan Jake), chorus member and director (Louisville Times; MOH) and as a Barbershop Harmony Society Music Judge. His highly focused rehearsals produced rising plateaus of confidence and passion, in the end allowing the singers to connect the emotion of the music to the eager Conference Center audience.
Our marvelous coaches, Dr. Greg Lyne and Greg Clancy, showed us on multiple occasions how even slight modifications in rhythm, timing or dynamics could boost the feelings conveyed to the audience. Choreographer extraordinaire Erin Howden heightened our delivery even further by scripting sensitive and powerful moves to demonstrate our passion. Many years of competitive experience by the men of MOH quartets Nightlife, Hi-Fidelity, OC Times and Gotcha!’s Garry Texeira coaxed us forward at every turn. Justin Miller, Pat Claypool and the section leaders constantly pointed out needed improvements. Long hours on the risers perfected moves and music, and chafed knees and sore joints testify to our front row’s repeated running, jumping, twisting and rolling on the hard floor. ‘Passion’ takes work!
Of course, the songs, plans, coaches, arrangements and teams were all put in place by the man Erin Howden constantly tells us is not only a musical genius, but equally committed to the chorus goal of excellence and one of the most emotional music directors she has known. Every man feels a deep sense of gratitude and respect for Mark Hale’s knowledge and leadership.
Bravo to the Masters of Harmony, 2005 Barbershop Harmony Society’s International Chorus Champion, and bravo to Mark Hale, the man most responsible for again raising the bar of performance excellence in the Society’s already prestigious musical heritage.