• Masters of Harmony


1990 International Barbershop Chorus Champions — San Francisco

Lucky Sevens? Let's Bring The Gold Back to California!

The Masters of Harmony were floating on air after winning their first gold medal in their home state of California. This was their second trip to international competition. And this time, they weren't taking any prisoners. It was almost like an omen, drawing 7th in singing order, on the 7th day of the 7th month. Their slogan said it all. And bringing the gold back to California they did in what a record fashion. The Masters of Harmony have set three records in the four championships they have captured to date.

The first record would be broken in San Francisco on that day of July 7, 1990. It all actually started one year earlier in Kansas City. That was the year they set out to be the first chorus in barbershop history to win the gold on their first attempt at international competition. But as hard as they worked in preparation for Kansas City, there were three other choruses that worked that little bit harder. Still, only 34 points separated first from fourth. The Masters absorbed some very valuable lessons from that July in 1989. They put those lessons to good use and performed the same package the following October to capture a second consecutive Far Western District championship. They were determined to continue their pursuit of excellence.

For the 1990 contest, the music leadership team selected "When Day Is Done" arranged by Ed Waesche, and the uptune was the David Wright arrangement of "Mississippi Mud". Starting with an original concept by Bob and Rosemary Calderon, the Masters of Harmony gave the songs to Cindy Hansen, an outstanding choreographer, teacher, and motivator. Cindy, in turn, created another "winning" package for the Masters.

The Masters brought out some of the top coaches in the Society to help them gain those 34 points. Most notably, the highly gifted Larry Ajer came out in April of 1990. His demonstration of the “Energy Cube” and emphasis on their faces lifted the Masters of Harmony to another level. Don Clause was another wonderful coach that attended the Masters' retreat in May. After hearing tapes that had been sent to him, he suggested several interpretive changes, some of which were pretty drastic. Some of the members were skeptical of making changes at the last minute. It meant also reworking several stage presence moves. But when Director Greg Lyne explained his trust in Don's instincts, the chorus agreed to give it the old college try. Don solidified the chapter's confidence and sharpened their desire to give the performance of their lives in San Francisco.

Then, there they were. Sitting in their seats at the Cow Palace. Waiting intently for the announcement of the medalists. It seemed like just yesterday that they were in the same scenario in Kansas City. All the work they had done over the previous year led up to this moment. And here it was: 5th place bronze medalists — Great Northern Union; 4th place bronze medalists — Southern Gateway Chorus (This was the largest chorus in San Francisco at 121 members.) and 3rd place bronze medalists — Northbrook New Tradition. Then, from the podium, the announcer stated, "For the first time in international chorus competition, there is a tie score for the top two choruses. This tie will be broken by the sound scores . . . the 2nd place silver medalists with a score of 1593 — The Thoroughbreds . . . and your 1990 International Chorus Champion — Masters of Harmony!"