Hear what the quartet (or its members) have to say about their experiences!
Though we weren’t all able to go for the entire trip, we can say without a doubt that we all had an absolute blast on it! It isn’t too often that you get the opportunity to travel the world, and even less so to do it in order to sing with and for people in the places you travel. Being members of a world-class barbershop chorus provides that amazing possibility, and we are both fortunate enough and also diligent enough (we work quite hard at our music!) to have been afforded the opportunity!
The trip began in Derby, England, where we sang with the Grand Central Chorus. The chorus hosted us in their homes and had us perform with them on a show which was spectacular fun! Greg and Chris began their trip here, and they can tell you, the Brits know their beer!
Our next stop brought us to Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, a wine-growing region in Germany! The beautiful little town plays host to a small but mighty mixed barbershop chorus called 4’n More. Here, Chris really took the idea of mixed singing and even now is seeking out ways to bring it to the Ontario District! The Toronto Northern Lights performed with this chorus in a beautiful hall and Greg and Chris also had the opportunity to see some of the neighbouring areas. Hopefully we can visit again someday!
Finally, it was on to Stockholm, where we met with Reuven and Jonah, and perform on the Olle Nyman Show with the EntertainMen, who were hosting us there. The show was an exciting one with an amazing line-up of artists, including The Real Group, Zero8, and Rönninge Show Chorus. If that and just being in Sweden wasn’t exciting enough, the quartet was together again and when the chorus made its next stop not too far from Stockholm in a smaller city called Nyköping, we were attending the Society of Nordic Barbershoppers’ (SNOBS) annual Convention and Open Championship! Though we weren’t competitors, they allowed us the opportunity to perform on their stage as a quartet, and of course it was great to see Trocadero, with whom we would compete in a few months, and Lemon Squeezy, who would be the ones to hand us our medals! The contest was amazing to watch, and their afterglows were truly a sight to behold. They really set the bar for us!
After 9 days of almost daily performances (sometimes multiple times), probably close to 80 hours of travel (between buses, planes, and other traveling), and some amazing and wonderful music, we returned to home sweet home where we could dream of distant lands and prepare for the upcoming International Contest!
One of our favourite times of year is when the Ontario District Barbershop Convention rolls around! Ontario is the only all-Canadian district, as other districts that include Canadian land cross the border. The fall convention is the preliminary contest for choruses who want to vie to compete in the International Chorus Contest, and the district-wide quartet contest for the quartet trophy and novice trophy. In addition, the Seniors Quartet qualifying round is held at this time. This year, our friends in Basses Unlimited, all either current or former members of the Toronto Northern Lights, won the seniors’ round and will be representing Ontario at the Midwinter International Seniors Quartet contest in March 2016!
The four of us sang with TNL (Toronto Northern Lights), with Jonah, Reuven, and Chris on the stage for the first time in a competitive capacity! We actually had forgotten, having come to feel like such close members of the chorus over the past couple of years, that we hadn’t competed with them in Toronto in 2013 when they won the gold! The excitement ramped up for us when we realized this and we had a great time! The Toronto Northern Lights won the “Go for the Gold” trophy, which is given to the chorus representing Ontario at the International Contest in July, which this coming year will be in Nashville, Tennessee!
But the most exciting aspect of the convention for us had to be winning the quartet contest. Going into the contest, we wanted more than anything to follow our international scores with an improvement, and we were concerned because we have learned that it can be very difficult to break that 80s barrier. We had tried for it since Vegas 2014, without success, until the International Collegiate Contest this past Summer, when we managed to score an average of 80.1. However, we suspect that those scores may have been inflated and not been an accurate representation of our ability; not to mention, those were scores over two songs. The Ontario District contest has not seen a quartet score over 80 since before the Barbershop Harmony Society adopted the new scoring system, and in addition to that, we would have to average that over four songs instead of two!
Well, we did it. We couldn’t be prouder of our accomplishment, and we hope to represent Ontario well as quartet champions! That being said, our quartet evaluations showed us that there is much to be done if we are to continue improving, and we are enthusiastic about getting right to it! With dedication, and maybe a little luck, we’ll be representing Ontario in Nashville next Summer with even better scores!
Ontario, you are our home, and our extended barbershop family! Thank you for your constant support and love! District conventions are like family reunions, and there’s a lot of hugging, singing, and general merriment. We can’t wait for the next one!