Masters of Harmony Update – Summer 2019

By Ron Larson, Staff Writer

Filling the Risers–A Casting Call

In order to stay alive, every chorus must find ways to replace members who leave. Under VP-Chapter Development Sean Sherrodd, the Masters of Harmony organized a guest night called A Casting Call. After Sean promoted the event at MOH shows and extensively on social media, it became the most successful guest night ever staged by the Masters. Over 50 guests joined MOH singers on the risers. As Director Justin Miller took the 130+ singers through their paces, the vocal electricity was palpable throughout the rehearsal room. Since that night on January 16, over 15 new singers have either become active members or are in the membership pipeline. Kudos to Sean for his relentless promotion of this highly successful event!

Digital Age Chorus Promotion

The following members have accepted the challenges of using Internet resources to promote the Masters of Harmony:

  • Mark Freedkin, whose organizational expertise was a big reason for the long running success of the Young Men in Harmony Program, has been named the MOH webmaster. He will be seeking to make the new MOH public website launched in 2018 as easy as possible for showgoers, donors, prospective members and visitors from other chapters to “do business with us.”
  • Justin McQueen will be reviewing MOH publications for accuracy, readability, and fitness for publication as copy editor, a similar post he currently holds as Southwest Division Editor for the Far Western District publication, Westunes.
  • Ed Schackman has taken on the position of Constant Contact Manager. He will be in charge of sendingemail “blasts” to those on the chapter email distribution list. Such email recipients include current and former members, show attendees, and casual contacts of our members and friends.

Facing the Fundraising Challenge

Many choruses are unable to pay for their operating expenses solely from proceeds of their shows and the sale of their merchandise. Some of these expenses include paying the director, operating and maintaining a truck and trailer, coaching and wardrobe expenses, music fees, and business licenses. Some choruses are helped by grants.For example, the Masters have received grants from the Los Angeles County Board of Commissioners through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. For five years, MOH Hall of Famer Marlin Fors managed a successful donor program called “Ambassadors of Harmony.” The management torch of that vital program has been passed to Rob Briner and the program is now called the “Masters Circle” with four levels of financial support ranging from $100 to $5,000+ annually. The generosity of Circle members who donate every year helpsmaintain MOH financial solvency.

Singing Valentines

In coordination with the Fullerton Orange Empire Chorus, men from the Masters of Harmony delivered singing valentines to recipients scattered from Fullerton to Long Beach and out to Irvine. A Masters foursome named Doubletime (Foster Howlett, Mark Travis, Les Weiser and Singing Valentines Coordinator Phil Wolf) traveled from morning to night to entertain the surprised beneficiaries of someone’s loving thoughts. MOH VP of Public Relations Larry Icenogle filled in as tenor with the Orange Empire quartet Preferred Blend to also deliver valentines. Some of the places the quartets visited included city maintenance yards, office buildings, community colleges and convalescent homes. In a break from past experience, half of the recipients were men. Phil gives credit to the Orange Empire Chorus, especially to Sheila Lowerre, Tom Nichols, and Jay Campbell, for their help in keeping this unique holiday fun and fundraising activity alive.

Tony De Rosa Coaching Session

One of the reasons for the Masters of Harmony success in Las Vegas in 2017 was coaching sessions with Tony De Rosa, one of Barbershop Harmony Society’s most successful singers (gold medals with four different
quartets). Tony is also a superb, much-in-demand vocal coach who can teach less gifted singers how to reach higher performance levels. His skills were clearly on display throughout the evening as he helped fine tune the contest package the Masters will take to the Southeast-Southwest Divisionals at Colony High School in Ontario,California, on May 10-11. Thanks, again, Tony!

The Masters of Harmony and The Westminster Chorus–A Unique Brotherhood

On May 5, the Masters of Harmony will present their annual spring show, entitled “Brotherhood–A Legacy in Harmony. The Westminster Chorus will be performing as a guest artist in what is being billed as “A Show for the Ages.” Never before in Barbershop Harmony Society history has a show featured two gold medal choruses directed by the same director. The relationship between these two choruses goes back to when some young singers decided they wanted to form a new chorus and follow their own vocal inclinations. They created a new chorus under the old Westminster Chapter charter with the support of then Director Terry Ghiselli and existing members. Some of those young members were also MOH members and, a mutually supportive relationship developed between the two chapters. Over the years, The Westminster Chorus has performed on a number of MOH shows. Their own pursuit of excellence has led to three chorus gold medals–the first in 2007 under Royce Ferguson, and the next two under Justin Miller. Some MOHers hold dual membership and several are gold medalists with each chorus. This is the unique choral heritage that will be on full display on this eagerly anticipated show. Since the last edition of Westunes, the Masters of Harmony welcomed Ted Allen, Peter Burt, Michael Katkov,Joe Klotzle, Gary Krall, Joel Mesa, and Troy Wheeler into membership.

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