By Irv Engelbrecht,
Barbershop Harmony Society, Southwestern District's
Southeast Division Managing Director
About the end of January 2018, our SWD Executive VP, Richard Howell (now SWD President), asked me to organize a senior chorus from the Southwestern District to represent us at the BHS Mid-Winter Convention, held at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, TN in January of 2019. I accepted and then an interesting and very time-consuming year began.
February....... First, I had to find a director and of course my first choice was Artie Dolt of Friends In Harmony in San Antonio.
He graciously accepted and then began the search for just the right music and learning tracks. Of his first two choices, one was not published and would take a long time to get clearance, so we found another one. During this time I got with the SWD Marketing and PR Director, Rocky Willett, to put out emails to the district to see if there was enough interest to move forward…. and there was! I ordered 35 copies each of “Last Night Was The End Of The World” and “Old Fashioned Girl/Sweet And Lovely Medley” from BHS. I also ordered learning tracks from Tim Waurick.
I figured if everyone that signed up paid $15, we could break even on the cost of music and tracks, so Rocky fixed up a link for guys to sign up and the ball started rolling. When a guy signed up, I would send him tracks and music on three different emails, due to file size limit and my local server. Sometimes the destination server would bog down, too. I’m not a computer expert, but it finally all worked out… and my laptop will never be the same! We named our chorus the SWD SENIOR MOMENTS CHORUS.
April - May
Plans were made for rehearsals at the 2018 Spring convention in Baton Rouge, May 4th and 5th. We had two rehearsals at Baton Rouge with about 30 attending. Recordings were made to get the benefit of Artie’s interpretation and sent to everyone that signed up - even if they could not attend.
I also up a place to have a rehearsal in Temple in August. More singers signed up as we progressed. Now, we were up to 50 and the word was spreading!
July - August
We sent messages to find out how many would attend our practice in Temple. Thus far, 60 men signed up and 42 of them came to the practice at Temple.
Arrangements were made for rehearsal at the 2018 Fall Convention at DFW Hyatt Regency Hotel before we sing for score. We now had 68 signed up, but all can’t make it to DFW. All competitors must be verified for paid up dues before singing on stage. More legal copies of music had to be ordered and paid for.
At the Fall Convention we qualified for Nashville earning an average score of 66.8 with 49 men on stage. A video of our performance was sent out to all who signed up so the members could see Artie’s interpretation. I began sending my requests to BHS for a practice room and schedule at Nashville.
More guys sign up as others had to drop out due to health, family issues or finances.
We now have a total of 75 guys signed up, so we closed out registration. I got confirmation on our practice room at Nashville for Thursday night after the show and sent schedules and info to all members.
Nashville here we come!
We had our practice on Thursday night, Jan. 24, and performed Friday, Jan. 25, with 44 on the Grand Ole Opry stage, earning a rating of “Excellent!” To top it off, I was unable to sing because of sinus issues! I just sold the songs with my face, mouthing the words.
BHS sent a link of our Nashville performance, which I sent out to the chorus.
That wraps up the adventure, including hundreds of emails! Will we do it again? Stay tuned…..