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63rd International Convention

Harmonet Reports

Family Stuff

While I was working on the Sing! A Cappella report from Monday
night, my family spent the morning at the Country Music Hall 
of Fame and Museum just a block away from the hotel. When they
returned we all went out a couple of miles south to the Cumberland
Science Museum, a two story building full of hands-on exhibits 
teaching and demonstrating scientific principals in creative
ways. While the kids were off learning how to electrocute the 
cat and build nuclear devices out of household kitchen items,
I wandered into the computer lab and sat at an Apple Imac,
brought up the connection to the internet and displayed the 
SPEBSQSA.ORG web page...the Nashville Convention and Sing! logos
were prominently displayed, and I heard one person behind me 
exclaim, "Oh look! They've got barbershop in here too!" I left
it up there for others to see and wandered off...

Anyway, after a couple of fun hours in the museum we hit a local
grocery store for suplies and then had dinner at a Ruby Tuesday's
before heading back downtown to the hotel in time to walk to the 
Renaissance Hotel for the Celebrate Youth Ice Cream Social...

Harmony Foundation
Celebrate Youth Ice Cream Social

My wife and daughter accompanied me to the Renaissance Hotel
ballroom where a thousand or so barbershoppers had already
gathered. We scanned the room for the ice cream dispensing 
area but all we saw were people lined up to get cookies and 
lemonade...! No ice cream at an ice cream social!! It's an 
outrage! :) 

Well anyway, the girls decided they'd rather go off and scout
for some ice cream, so they left me at the ballroom, where I 
met up with fellow RTP Chapter member Bob Dickson and his wife
Andi, and settled in to watch the fun. 

I was so psyched up for some ice cream though, that it bothered
me until Gary Stamm started the proceedings and announced that 
they were unable to work out gettingthe ice cream, which had been
donated by the hotels in the past, but which they were unable to 
work out this time. The Renaissance came back at the last minute
though, and offered at least the cookies and drink, which we
accepted gratefully. Soooo, it was a cookie social! We're flexible.

Gary Stamm was frantically searching for MC Terry Aramian, but
went ahead and introduced the first high school quartet, The Classics.
They came out in navy colored shirts and white shorts, and opened
with "It's Barbershop Harmony Time," grabbing the audience right
away with their smooth horizontal flow of sound and good blend.
They followed with "The Moment I Saw Your Eyes," and did a really
good job, though the tenor was a bit undersupported at the tag...
the bass boomed in as he took over the melody though, and they 
ended on a solid note. Good job!

Terry Aramian appeared and took over the MC duties, introducing the
Magic City Performing Arts for Children group from Birmingham,
Alabama. Under the direction of John Butler, a long time Dixie
District quartet man, MCPAC gets kids involved in the arts and
in working as part of a team in staging a full-scale musical
production. It's a great way to get kids involved in all aspects
of music, art and drama. A group of scrubbed youngsters assembled
on stage and presented a brief sample of some of the musical
productions they have produced in the past. Simple costumes
and easily sung lyrics and harmonies brought to life "The Wind
In The Willow" with the song "The Life Adventurous." A crafty
Tom Sawyer also appeared in a number called "Paintin' The Fence"
capturing that part of Mark Twain's classic tale wherein the sly
Tom convinces the neighborhood kids that there's nothing better
to do on a sunny Saturday than paint the fence, eventually getting
them to do his work! The thirteen voices blended well together,
and the fresh shining faces and bright smiles made it so much
more fun to watch and hear. They deftly switched into a cute 
song featuring Tom's school teacher and a fun songgoing up and
down the scales while they all learned their ABC's. In "Robin Hood"
the famous archer meets up with childhood friend Maid Marion and
together they sing "We Lead A Merry Life." Lewis Carroll's 
"Alice In Wonderland" included the always late rabbit and the
Cheshire Cat swinging his tail, and finally, the classic story
of "The Wizard Of Oz" was once again remembered with versions
of "In The Merry Old Land Of Oz" and "SomeWhere Over The Rainbow".

From Michigan State and Bowling Green, SEGUE was next, and they
wore white golf shirts with khaki shorts...they opened with 
"I Used To Call Her Baby" which started off ok, but then just
got better as they got more comfortable. Their bass voice is 
remarkable! Good strong, resonant vocals there! They showed 
some really good control as they gradually increased the tempo
to the punch line at the tag...go tenor! Nice job throughout.
Their second song, "What'll I Do?" was really nice, with 
strong connecting phrases and good interp. A strong finish
made the crowd go "Woahhh!" as they thundered their applause.

Bill Rashleigh came up next to take care of the audience
participation part, breaking the audience into three groups
and had us sing his version of "Way Down Upon The Swanee
River" complete with a chi-chi-chi section and a "BOOM!"
section that quickly got out of hand by the end and had us all
laughing wildly.

I hadn't recovered enough to get the name of the next quartet
but they came on with blue short sleeve shirts and khaki
shorts and sandals and opened with "Silhouette" and paired it
with "Hello Mary Lou"...their short hair was stuck up in front
and their shirt collars were turned up to give them a bit of 
a 50's "bad boy" look...nice effect!

At this point I decided to check out the Senate-Aires party
that was going on at the same time, so I took off...

Senate-Aires Party

I walked from the ballroom at the Renaissance to the convention
center connected next door, and followed the signs down the
escalators to the huge cavernous east wing of the convention
center basement, where the Senate-Aires had set up nearly 2000
chairs and tables for their huge kickoff party and rally in 
memory of Larry Ajer. A cash bar was set up both outside
and inside the huge room, and they were accepting donations
(suggested $5) at the door to help defray costs. I got a drink
and headed inside, and noticed the large raised platform stage
set up toward the middle of the huge rectangular room. Some
1500+ people were already there enjoying the parade of quartets
and choruses that were lined up to entertain.

I caught Saturday Evening Post as they did their set from
"Les Miserables" and though they sang well, I couldn't hear them
too well due to the reverberation off the concrete walls, the
constant "whoosh" of the massive air conditioning units above,
and the constant low rumble of talk going on among the audience,
who treated it like a coffee house. I even saw hotel workers 
pushing wheeled carts down the main aisles right in the middle
of a performance, seemingly oblivious to the performers on stage.

Southern Cross, a quartet from Australia, did a good job with
"The Masquerade Is Over" and were well received. Toronto Northern
Lights was super smooth and together on "It Had To Be You," but the
softer parts of the song were completely lost in the ambient noise.
I could hear some really nice sound coming off the stage, I just 
couldn't understand what they were singing. Oh well...can't wait to
hear them Saturday! They also did a good job on "Nobody Wants You
When You're Down and Out", with good vocal unity and richness

The highlight of the evening for me was the appearance of the 
Russian boys' quartet, The Nightengales. These boys are going to 
be the hit of the convention! They are 9-10 years old, and they
hit the stage like miniature pro's, dressed in their crisp spotless
Russian outfits and singing with enthusiasm and great harmony.
They opened with a Russian song (I have no idea what they were
singing but it didn't matter, they captivated the audience anyway).
But then they followed the huge applause with "Yes Sir That's 
My Baby" in English, and full choreography...needless to say the
audience went nuts. Greg Lyne took the stage and introduced the 
boys one by one, who each stepped forward and smartly bowed at the
waist as their name was called. Dr. Lyne also introduced their
coach, and then signaled the boys for one more song...they stepped
up and delighted us all with "Side By Side" and once more got a 
thunderous standing ovation. They are absolutely adorable, and
you'll hear more about them later.

There was no point trying to follow that act (you know the rule
about dogs and children acts) so they wisely plugged in a short
intermission here, and folks milled about talking and drinking 
and relaxing. I tried moving to a different location near a 
speaker, and later found that helped some. I stayed to hear a 
few more groups, including the quartet Flipside, and a mixed 
quartet that sang some neat songs from the 40's, and the host
chorus, the Salem Senate-Aires, who filled the risers and did
several nice numbers, including one song with Kim Ajer singing 
solo in tribute to all these great guys who have been such good
friends to her over the years.

I listened to a few others, but had put away the notebook by then,
and just relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere. Out in the hallway 
clusters of singers were gathered in various corners, belting 
tags and making new friends. I wandered a bit through the hotel
lobby, which was filling with more folks left over from the Ice
Cream Social, and finally headed out the door for the Hilton
and bed. 

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