Contest & Judging FAQ

If you have any questions, comments or would like to suggest additional questions, please email dir-cj@swd.org.

  1. Who are the SWD Judges? How do I become a judge?
  2. Where do we find the Contest and Judging rules?
  3. We wish to compete to quality for the International Quartet contest, but we are not available to compete in the SWD District Contest. What are our options?
  4. Dual Chorus Membership, are there any restrictions regarding competing in multiple choruses?
  5. How do we determine if a song is contestable?, (was recently published in BHS live wire)
  6. We are planning to register a new quartet, how do we do that?
  7. May I compete in multiple quartets?
  8. We are planning to enter the Senior quartet contest, how many songs do we need, is there a limit on the number of quartets in which we may compete?
  9. What is the Best Seat in the House program?
  10. How do we know if we are eligible to compete as a Senior or Novice Quartet?
  11. To compete at the SWD fall contest, what contests do we enter? How do we do that?
  12. If all Quartet members are not from the same District, in which District may we compete?
  13. If all Quartet members are Frank Thorne Members, in which District may we compete?
  14. Why is the SWD Senior Champion not always the SWD Representative to the Mid-winter Senior International Quartet Contest?
  15. We are members of a Youth Quartet, may we enter a SubSession other than the District Youth SubSession?
  16. Why are there no longer Division Chorus Plateau SubSessions?
  17. Why do Quartet Evaluations take place into the "wee small hours of the morning".
  18. I'm interested in becoming a judge, what is the process for applying to the judging program?
  19. I've heard there has been a rule change affecting Youth quartets who qualify for both the International Quartet Contest and the International Youth Quartet contest such that they may no longer compete in both.
  20. For eligibility of a chorus singer to compete with the chorus is the requirement that all members must be in good standing on the contest day, or some earlier "cutoff" date? Same question applies to quartet members.
  21. Where can we find information on the new Performance judging category?
  22. With the addition of the new Spring contest (2017) do quartets need to qualify to enter the Fall contest?
  23. With the addition of the new Spring contest (2017) do choruses need to qualify to enter the Fall contest?
  24. If we enter multiple Chorus contests, such as Fall Chorus qualifier or Small Chorus AND the Audience Favorite, should we plan on competing on stage twice?
  25. Is the Spring Convention (since 2017) another Division contest?
  26. If we compete in a quartet in the fall, may we compete again in the Spring?
  27. If we compete in a Chorus in the fall and automatically qualify for the next Fall District contest, may we compete again in the Spring?
  28. If we compete in a Chorus in the fall and automatically qualify for the next Fall District contest, must we compete again in the Spring?
  29. What contests are currently held in the Fall and in the Spring?
  30. May any BHS member compete in a quartet or chorus?
  31. If a chorus who has qualified to compete in the next Fall contest withdraws prior to the contest, does another chorus replace them?
  32. What is the Small Chorus Contest?
  33. What is the Audience Favorite Award?

Who are the SWD Judges? How do I become a judge?

Answer: We currently have 9 Certified Judges as shown here. Certified judges may judge at any contest. Candidate judges are those who are in the process of becoming a certified judge. If you have interest in the judging program, please chat with any certified judge or email our District representative for contest and judging at dir‑cj@swd.org. A complete listing of the judges is available on the SWD Judges page.

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Where do we find the Contest and Judging rules?

Answer: There are three links provided below, first is a link to the Contest and Judging Handbook containing the BHS Contest rules. Second is a link to the Collegiate rules and third is a link to the SWD contest rules, which are used in addition to the BHS contest rules. If you are planning to compete, please take time to familiar yourself with the appropriate rules for your chorus or quartet.

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We wish to compete to qualify for the International Quartet contest, but we are not available to compete in the SWD District Contest. What are our options?

Answer: There are two different answers depending on whether you are inquiring about an existing quartet or a new one formed after the SWD has held its International preliminary contest for that year.

In BOTH cases, you may request to compete out of District (OOD), which means you would compete at the International preliminary quartet contest in another District. There are specific rules in order to do so.

For an Existing Quartet:

First, please note you must have arrangements to compete OOD completed 30 days prior to the International Quartet Preliminary contest in either your home District or the one in which you wish to compete, whichever occurs earlier.

Such arrangements require securing permission from the SWD Contest and Judging Representative (dir-cj@swd.org), currently Randy Rensi and the SWD President, (president@swd.org) currently John Schneider, and both of our counterparts in the District in which you wish to compete. Again, this must be completed 30 days prior to whichever contest occurs first.

A list of contest dates and locations may be found at: http://www.barbershop.org/competitions/upcoming-district-conventions/, for contests not shown on this document, you may consult the BHS master calendar, http://www.barbershop.org/news-events/society-calendar-of-events/

For a New Quartet:

Should you form a new quartet AFTER your home District has already held its International Preliminary contest. You may choose the District in which you wish to compete. Arrangements to compete in that District must be completed 30 days prior to their International Preliminary contest by contacting their District Representative for Contest and Judging (DRCJ). You also need to secure permission from the District President in that District.

A list of contest dates and locations may be found at: http://www.barbershop.org/competitions/upcoming-district-conventions/, for contests not shown on this document, you may consult the BHS master calendar, http://www.barbershop.org/news-events/society-calendar-of-events/

Since your results potentially affect support by the SWD, be sure to advise the SWD DRCJ (dir-cj@swd.org) of your intent to compete out of District and the District President (president@swd.org).

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Dual Chorus Membership, are there any restrictions regarding competing in multiple choruses?

Answer: If you wish to compete in multiple choruses, you must first be a member of each chorus. This requires dual membership. Your chapter secretary can take care of this for you.  Otherwise, the rules on dual membership have changed over the years. Today, in order to compete in multiple choruses, you simply need to be a member in good standing of each chorus prior to the contest. For those of you who recall when we required becoming a dual member of each chorus prior to the beginning of the contest cycle, that changed and was eliminated in 2009.

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How do we determine if a song is contestable?, (was recently published in BHS live wire)

Answer:

Judges standing by to help keep you in the zone

With a whole new world of social media, modes of communication continue to expand. Our ability to reach out to anyone quickly is becoming easier and easier.

The Contest & Judging (C&J) community recognizes that there are always questions bubbling up about rules concerning contests. To that end, there are a variety of services available to answer your questions vs asking on Facebook about the latest rumor you heard.

The most frequent question is "Is this arrangement contestable?". There are a couple of services available that will help you.

  • Tom Moore maintains a website Contest Songs Database(also accessible through the BHS website) that has every song sung in contest for the last 10 years and more. It is easy to use. If the song has been sung and it doesn't look like there was any sort of reduction based upon the scores, and your arrangement sounds barbershop to your ear, then it is likely fine.Warning:there are no arrangers tied to the song listings.
  • However, if you're still concerned you can send it to the Chart Contestability Committee via Don Gray atdongray@cinci.rr.com. You'll need to send them a copy to review the chart.
  • The latest set of rules is always maintained on our website

Finally, if you have a question about judging itself (possible rule changes, interpretations, questions, etc.), you can follow the Ask A Judge threadon the barbershophq.comblog, where you can engage in a dialogue with judges as well as others who want to join in on the blog. The benefit with this is that the comments stay and can be reviewed by others.

In today's world, there is no reason that you can't get an answer to your question. Don't rely on hearsay or Facebook to make decisions about your questions!

Kevin Keller, C&J Chair,kkbari@charter.net

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We are planning to register a new quartet, how do we do that?

Answer: Contact Headquarters in Nashville or register on the BHS members only website, Please note: allow about 2 weeks for HQ to process your request. Please take this into account if you are close to a contest entry deadline, in which case notify the District Contest and Judging Representative so you do not miss the cut-off date. Contact dir-cj@swd.org, currently Randy Rensi.

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May I compete in multiple quartets?

Answer: There are two parts to this answer:

A) You may enter any Division or District contests in multiple quartets.

B) International Preliminary contests, an individual may only participate in ONE at each level each year. Said another way, you may participate in only one quartet that is entered in each type of prelims contest in a given year. So you may only compete in ONE quartet in Int’l prelims and only ONE quartet in the Senior prelims, but not 2 quartets in either Int’l Quartet prelims or Senior prelims. If you have competed in your District prelims, you may NOT compete Out of District in a different quartet, as you may only compete once per year.

The BHS C&J contest rules state:

Competing in Multiple Quartets

In international and international preliminary contests a member may compete with only one quartet, regardless of the number of quartets or districts to which he belongs. However, a member may compete in multiple quartets in any division or district contest in one or more districts.

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We are planning to enter the Senior quartet contest, how many songs do we need, is there a limit on the number of quartets in which we may compete?

Answer: Both the Senior International Preliminary contest and District Senior contest are a one round contest, so only two (2) songs are required. However, you may enter as many in excess of two (2) as you desire.

You may enter multiple quartets in the District Senior contest.

You may compete in only one quartet entered in the International Senior preliminary contest per year.

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What is the Best Seat In The House (BSITH) program?

Answerr: This is your opportunity to bid on a seat in the judging area with the official judging panel!

BETTER THAN A FRONT ROW SEAT!

Place your bid for the Best Seat In The House @http://bestseat.org/?List

While sitting in a convention auditorium watching a contest, have you ever had these thoughts?

  • "My scores usually track with those of the official panel. I wonder how I'm doing today"
  • "I plan to apply to become a judge -- it would be great if I could do a practice judging session somewhere to ensure that it's the right path for my barbershop future";
  • or simply, "It sure would be fun to judge a District or International contest!"

If so, then the Society's Best Seat In The House program is for you. The Harmony Foundation and the Contest & Judging program are teaming up to auction off a single seat at each & every contest session, including Division, District, Prelims, Mid-Winter and International. So if you've ever wanted to test out your judging chops, you can bid on a seat in the Judge's pit at your District Contest and be a 'Judge for a Day'.

Each contest session has a minimum opening bid and minimum incremental raises.

Funds received go to Harmony Foundation International or SingCanada to help defray the expenses for such efforts as the Collegiate Quartet Contest, Youth Chorus Festival, Youth Harmony Workshops, Harmony Explosion Camps and Harmony University Scholarships for Music Educators.

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How do we know if we are eligible to compete as a Senior or Novice Quartet?

Answer: Below are the definitions of both a Senior and Novice Quartet:

  1. Senior Quartet

    A Southwestern District Senior Quartet is a Senior Quartet which has chosen the Southwestern District as its home District in accordance with Article I.A. of the BHS Contest Rules (i.e., at least one member of the quartet is a member of a Chapter of the Southwestern District); and

    1. all members of which are at least 55 years of age; and
    2. the cumulative age of the quartet members is at least 240 years (average age of 60).

    These ages must be attained by the time of the Society Senior Quartet Contest at the following Society Mid-Winter Convention.

  2. Novice Quartet

    1. Division Novice, 2 or more Members of the Quartet who have never competed at the Division, District or International Level, including competing for “Scores for Evaluation Only
    2. District Novice, 2 or more Members of the Quartet who have never competed at the District or International Level, including competing for “Scores for Evaluation Only

Southwestern District Rules state:

All Quartet Contests (except the International Preliminary Quartet Contest) shall award a Novice Quartet Champion to the highest-scoring eligible quartet (if any).  A Novice Quartet is any quartet with two or more members who have never sung in a quartet contest at that or a higher level, including using the “For Score/Evaluation Only” option.  This means:

  1. Singing in an International Preliminary Quartet Contest is considered, for Novice Quartet eligibility purposes, to have sung at both Division and District levels
  2. Singing in a contest “For Score/Evaluation Only” is considered to have sung in that level's quartet contest
  3. Singing in a District Quartet Contest, without having first sung in a Division Quartet Contest (as a substitute, for instance), is considered to have sung at both Division and District levels

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To compete at the SWD fall contest, what contests do we enter? How do we do that?

Answer: Login to the members only section of the BHS website, https://ebiz.barbershop.org/ebusiness/, once you login choose Contest Entry on the menu bar, in the drop down box, again choose Contest Entry, then choose “Click here to Create a New Registration”. Then follow the additional instructions whether you are entering a Chorus or a Quartet. Be sure to enter the contest for the correct year!

Evaluations: All competitors should indicate if they desire an evaluation with the judges.

Songs: Each competitor needs to enter the minimum number of songs required prior to the start of the contest. Choruses are required to enter 2 songs, Quartets need 2 or 4, depending on which contests are entered. All District level quartet SubSessions require 4 songs. However, you may enter as many in excess of the minimum you care to enter.

Updating an existing contest entry: Once you have completed an entry, you may go back to the Contest Entry screen and you will see an option to edit an existing entry. At that time, you can change your entry, as may be the case when you need or desire to enter additional songs.

  1. Quartets, determine if you are a Novice Quartet, Senior quartet, Youth quartet or none of those.

    1. If you are a NOVICE quartet be sure and enter the applicable Division and District novice SubSessions, if you are eligible as a Novice for both (see novice  quartet definition in Question 10)
    2. If you are a SENIOR quartet, enter the District Senior Quartet SubSession (Past Senior Champs are not eligible) and if you choose, enter the International Senior Quartet SubSession (this determines the International representative to the Mid-Winter convention). If you are in multiple quartets, please see Question 8.
    3. If you are a YOUTH Quartet, enter the District Youth SubSession. In order to enter other SubSessions, please see Question 15. Also see new rule in question 19.
    4. All quartets (Youth see iii. above) may enter the International Preliminary SubSession, the District Quartet SubSession and your appropriate Division Quartet SubSession. Those competing in multiple quartets, see Question 7. Also see new rule in question 19.
    5. If you wish to be judged, but do not want either your scores published or to otherwise compete in the contest, choose the Quartet Scores for Evaluation Only SubSession. Please note, if you enter this SubSession, you may NOT enter any other SubSessions.  You may participate in the Quartet Evaluations. Note: if you are a Novice quartet, this will count as if you had competed and you will end your novice status.
  2. Choruses

    1. Each chorus may enter the District Chorus SubSession, the International Preliminary Chorus SubSession and their appropriate Division SubSession.
    2. The SWD C&J team will enter each chorus in the appropriate plateau, as the plateau designation is based on chorus membership as of June 30 of each contest year.
    3. The SWD C&J team will also enter eligible choruses in the District and appropriate Division Most Improved SubSessions. You must have competed in the prior year to be eligible.
    4. If your chorus wishes to be judged, but does not want either your scores published or to otherwise compete in the contest, choose the Chorus Scores for Evaluation Only SubSession. Please note, if you enter this SubSession, you may NOT enter any other SubSessions. You may participate in the Chorus Evaluations.

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If all Quartet members are not from the same District, in which District may we compete?

Answer: You may compete in any District for which one Quartet member is a member of a Chapter in the District for which you wish to represent. You must notify the Society Contest and Judging office prior to September 1 each year indicating in which District you plan to compete. District selection is binding for the entire year.

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If all Quartet members are Frank Thorne Members, in which District do we compete?

Answer: Frank Thorne Members are all assigned to a Frank Thorne Chapter within their District. Thus, you may select from the Frank Thorne chapters which you may represent. You must notify the Society Contest and Judging office prior to September 1 each year indicating in which (Frank Thorne) District you plan to compete. District selection is binding for the entire year.

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Why is the SWD Senior Champion not always the SWD Representative to the Mid-winter Senior International Quartet Contest?

Answer: Past Senior Champions may not repeat and thus may not compete in the District Senior Quartet contest. All Senior quartets may compete in the Senior International Preliminary contest. The highest scoring Senior quartet competing in the Senior International Preliminary Contest is the SWD representative to the Senior International Contest (and that may not be the SWD Senior Champion). It is possible for other quartets competing in the Senior International Preliminary Quartet to qualify to compete in the Senior International Quartet contest as a wild card.

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We are members of a Youth Quartet, may we enter a SubSession other than the District Youth SubSession?

Answer: Yes, a Youth quartet may enter any contest for which they are eligible. The SWD contest rules , as shown below, provide Youth quartets the opportunity to enter the Youth Quartet contest without holding a convention registration and are not required to be members of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS). If a Youth Quartet chooses to enter any other contest, they must meet the eligibility requirements of any Registered BHS quartet.

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Why are there no longer Division Chorus Plateau SubSessions?

Answer: Division Chorus Plateau SubSessions and Awards were eliminated in 2014. Several factors entered into this decision.

a. District Chorus Plateau's Champions will duplicate 3 of the Division Chorus Plateau Champions.

b. Division Chorus Champions and Most Improved Chorus awards remain in place.

c. Division Chorus Champions will also duplicate Division Chorus Plateau Champions

d. We anticipate 12-16 choruses will enter the contest. We will have 14 awards without the Division Chorus Plateaus. If a chorus entered every available Plateau, the number of awards would be 26 for the same 12-16 choruses.

e. With the single annual contest format, we are pressed for time to make all of the award presentations special, reducing the number, given the number of duplicates, allows for the other 14 awards to be more special and valuable.

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Why do Quartet Evaluations take place into the "wee small hours of the morning"?

Answer: Contest Rules allow for Evaluations to take place until 1:00AM local time. Often it is necessary they last until then due to the end of contest time. We schedule well in advance to insure evaluations are completed by 1:00AM such that each contestant have 20 minutes with a scoring judge from each category and that each contestant who desires an evaluation, will receive one. If a late evaluation is a challenge or concern, share that information in the comments section when you enter the contest and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

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I'm interested in becoming a judge, what is the process for applying to the judging program?

Answer: The judging program accepts applicants every 3 years in the fall of the year. The next opportunity to apply is fall of 2019. If you wish to apply, it is recommended that you review the application requirements in the contest and judging handbook, use this link: http://www.barbershop.org/resources/document-center/contest-and-judging/. Determine the category you in which you wish to apply. You will need a letter of recommendation from 2 certified judges in your chosen category as well as 5 other references who can provide an appraisal of your abilities. The completed application is submitted to the SWD Director of Contest and Judging, dir-cj@swd.org.

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I've heard there has been a rule change affecting Youth quartets who qualify for both the International Quartet Contest and the International Youth contest such that they may no longer compete in both.

Answer: *2016 Rule Change* If you are a Youth quartet and are also entering the International preliminary contest, should you quality for both the International Quartet contest and the International Youth contest, you may only enter and compete in one of these contests during the next International convention. This is a rule change effective in 2016.

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For eligibility of a chorus singer to compete with the chorus is the requirement that all members must be in good standing on the contest day, or some earlier "cutoff" date? Same question applies to quartet members.

Answer: A member must be in good standing (dues up to date) as of the day of the contest. In fact, they can pay in person at the convention if necessary. We can make arrangements with District Secretary to accept such a payment.

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Where can we find information on the new Performance judging category?

Answer: In July 2016, the presentation judging category became PERFORMANCE. Please go here to download the new category description: http://www.barbershop.org/files/PER%20details.pdf There is also an excellent video that discusses the change, please be sure and watch the video at the following location: http://www.barbershop.org/competitions/contest-judging-system/

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With the addition of the new Spring contest (2017) do quartets need to qualify to enter the Fall contest?

Answer: No, there is no qualification necessary for Quartet to enter the District contest.

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With the addition of the new Spring contest (2017) do choruses need to qualify to enter the Fall contest?

Answer: Yes, All Choruses must “qualify” for the fall District contest. The 8 highest scoring choruses from the previous fall contest receive an automatic invitation to the next Fall Contest. The 4 highest scoring choruses at the Spring Convention are invited to compete at the Fall convention.

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If we enter multiple Chorus contests, such as Fall Chorus qualifier or Small Chorus AND the Audience Favorite, should we plan on competing on stage twice?

Answer: A Chorus may only compete once during any contest weekend. If a chorus wishes to compete in the Audience Favorite contest and any other Chorus contest, they must include their 2 contest songs as part of their 12 minute performance package. The songs to be scored for competition must be designed in advance to the DRCJ or Contest Administrators.

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Is the Spring Convention (since 2017) another Division contest?

Answer: NO, the Spring contest as of 2017 is a District Level contest. All Division contests take place as part of the 2 District contests.

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If we compete in a quartet in the fall, may we compete again in the Spring?

Answer: YES, Both District contests from a quartet perspective are independent contests. Neither requires a qualification to enter and each includes discrete contests. Contests in the Fall do not occur in the Spring and Contests in the Spring do not occur in the Fall.

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If we compete in a Chorus in the fall and automatically qualify for the next Fall District contest, may we compete again in the Spring?

Answer: YES! Any chorus may enter the Spring contest. If eligible, they may enter the Small Chorus contest. If desired, they may enter the Audience Favorite contest. If they would like to be scored and receive an evaluation in advance of the International chorus competition or in preparation for the Fall District Chorus contest, they may enter the Scores for Evaluation Only subsession. Their scores will not be published according to SWD contest rules.

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If we compete in a Chorus in the fall and automatically qualify for the next Fall District contest, must we compete again in the Spring?

Answer: NO, any Chorus who has received an invitation to the next Fall District Chorus contest does not need to compete in the Spring Contest.

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What contests are currently held in the Fall and in the Spring?

Answer:

Spring Contests

Quartet:

  • International Preliminary Quartet
  • Int’l Preliminary Senior Quartet
  • District Senior Quartet
  • Division Novice Quartet
  • Mixed Harmony Quartet

Chorus:

  • Fall District Qualifier
  • Small Chorus
  • Audience Favorite

Fall Contests

Quartet:

  • District Champion
  • District Novice Champion
  • Division Champions

Chorus:

  • International Preliminary Chorus
  • District Chorus Champion
  • District Most Improved Chorus
  • Plateau Champions (A, AA, AAA)
  • Division Chorus Champions
  • Division Most Improved Choruses

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May any BHS member compete in a quartet or chorus?

Answer: BHS recently created a new membership category and those members do not belong to a Chapter or District. Those members wishing to compete in choruses or quartets, must be a member of District. Frank Thorne is an acceptable District.

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If a chorus who has qualified to compete in the next Fall contest withdraws prior to the contest, does another chorus replace them?

Answer: Yes, Should a chorus decline an invitation to the District Chorus Contest prior to the opening of registration for Spring Convention; the next highest scoring Chorus from the previous Fall District Chorus Contest will be invited. Should a chorus decline an invitation following the Spring Convention or win the BHS International Chorus Championship and therefore become ineligible to compete in the Fall District Chorus contest for the next 2 years, the next highest scoring chorus from the Spring Convention will be invited. If a chorus withdraws within 30 days of the Fall District Chorus Contest, they will not be replaced.

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What is the Small Chorus Contest?

Answer: The small chorus contest is for open to any chorus who performs with 22 members or less on stage (less director), has not won the Small Chorus contest the previous year (winner may not win in consecutive years) and did not qualify to compete at the International Chorus contest in the same year of the Small Chorus contest.

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What is the Audience Favorite Award?

Answer: The Audience Favorite Award is given to the Chorus who receives the most votes from the Audience, based on the entertainment value of their performance package. The performance package must be in good taste and may not exceed 12 minutes (penalties apply – see SWD Contest Rules). There is no limit on the number of songs which may be performed, only the performance may not exceed 12 minutes and the songs are not required to be BHS “contestable” songs. For those choruses choosing to compete in either the Small Chorus contest or attempting to qualify for the Fall District Chorus contest, those choruses will include their 2 contest songs in their performance package.

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