We had a spectacular whirlwind trip to California to compete in the National Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival!
On Friday May 17, we flew from Baltimore to San Francisco to join six other competitors from around the country to compete in this festival, which is nearing it’s 30th anniversary as the premiere event for a cappella music of all styles. Each competitor in the National event was the winner of their Regional respective event earlier in 2013. This year, the competitors included a great mix of a cappella genres, including: a folk trio, a barbershop quartet (that’s us!), an all-male quintet, an all-male sextet, two mixed-voice sextets, and one 12-voice mixed group (who took turns 8 at a time on stage to meet the festival requirements). The music on stage that night included pop, rock, hip hop, jazz, folk, Broadway, and Great American Songbook standards – all performed with only the human voice, no instrumentation. It was really a wonderful celebration of what the human voice can do!
Our trip to California was short and sweet. We were only in town for about a day and a half, but in that time, we had a fantastic experience! The Festival producer, John Neal, was wonderfully helpful, positive and friendly. The other competitors were so, so talented, and fun and friendly. It was great to hear everyone doing their thing!
On Saturday evening, after sound checks and before the show started, we were in the dressing room getting ready when we had a spectacular surprise – our friend, coach, mentor and director Michael Gellert showed up at the event! He had flown all the way out to San Francisco from Baltimore to surprise us – and it was a fantastic surprise! It felt wonderful to know that he was out there in the audience!
The performance was spectacularly fun! We were the only Barbershop group on the show, and it felt like the audience was eager to hear our style. We received an incredibly warm response from the audience throughout our performance, which helped us give that same energy back to them through our music. We gave a performance that we are really proud of! After our performance, during the intermission, we met a lot of folks from the audience and enjoyed talking to them and sharing more information about barbershop style and the BHS and SAI organizations. We enjoyed hearing all the other competitors’ performances from backstage, and were wowed by all the talent and energy that the other groups put out there for the audience to enjoy.
We really had no idea how the “competition” aspect of the show would fall out. All of the groups did so well, each in their respective genres, it would be really hard to be a judge in this event, having to evaluate so many different artists who sing so many different things. We were surprised and honored to be named the 2nd place finalists in the show. Our new friends, the Honey Whiskey Trio, earned the First Place honors with their beautiful and artistic folk/bluegrass sound. Third place was a tie between the very talented groups The Rainbows and Fermata Town. Overall, we are really grateful and honored to have be part of this event.