Our Reno team has just returned from an outstanding weekend at the Far Western District Convention and Contest. Our Barbershop hobby reaches its zenith at these events when guys gather from many states to rekindle friendships, perform, compete, learn, make new friends, do barbershop business, and see world class entertainment. I’m on such a high and find it hard to capture the whole wonderful experience in words. At these events, there is something for every barbershopper from newbie to experience singer. For me, these weekends become the highlight of my singing experience, an experience that goes far beyond and outside of the actual competition that we often believe these events focus on.
The competition is just one small part of a much richer experience. So many of my friends go to these conventions and don’t compete. There is so much more to experience…
- This weekend, I saw the greatest choral performance of my life when the Westminster Chorus made a guest appearance and shared their inspiring new song.
- I sang with a a group of Brigade brothers in an impromtu performance in the main theater.
- I met all the guys from the Hawaii chorus at their Mai Tai party. After they got kicked out of their hotel rooms, we convened in a convention room and then were treated to a parade of world class quartets. I will never ever forget sitting on a chair ten feet from that parade of international quartets in an intimate, small room – just because I was hanging with the Hawaii guys.
- My breakfasts were spent with a new barbershopper who travels across the state of California just to sing with a little chorus of dedicated singers. When I saw his show, I knew why he found the effort worthwhile. It took my breath away.
- I sang till 4:00 in the morning with hundreds of crazy tag singers who sing until we are kicked out of one area, only to find another area to keep singing.
- I heard people share stories how their families have grown up in barbershopping – dads and sons, and grandsons.
- I saw a dad and his two sons take the district champion quartet prize.
- I saw a young man conduct two of the greatest choral groups in the world and then listened to his mom explain how she is working to lead the Harmony Foundation make changes in people’s lives.
- I attended the district delegates meeting and heard how so many men in the district tirelessly volunteer as district officers to bring all the chapters in our district new resources, training and support.
- I watched the Velvet Frogs senior quartet tickle our hearts with laughter.
- I watched a pair of blind brothers light up the stage with their bold quartet performance.
- I watched a tiny chorus of 17 win a standing ovation with a hilarious bus ride on-stage performance.
- I met up with a great friend and director who I sang under many years ago.
Oh, and I got to compete with three great guys in the quartet contest. We shared butterflies and excitement and got coaching evaluations from the dad of a couple of members of the current international champion quartet. But really, the competition moments were trivial compared to the friends and love I get with the convention experience. I lost track of the hugs I got and the ones I saw! I hope I can share this experience with more of you from the great Silver Dollar Chorus. Jeff.