“R -O-L-L AROUND HEAVEN ALL DAY,” boomed Jim Henry, and the crowd of 2000 leapt to its feet applauding Crossroads. Ringmasters’ soaring tag of “bells bells bells of Notre Dame!” lifted the crowd to its feet again, one of six ovations for the two quartets that night.
Pretty standard convention fare, right?
Except this convention was not a gathering of barbershop fans and friends, but rather the American Choral Directors Association’s 2017 National Conference -- an audience which only recently has come to recognize the artistry and quality vocal approaches that we share with the rest of the choral world.
The concert appearances were the most visible expression of the ever-growing interest barbershop has earned through high-profile presentations at choral conventions. Led by Outreach Advocacy and Partnerships Manager Sherry Lewis, the BHS presence this year expanded to include a standing-room-only music reading session with the two champ quartets reading through a stack of new publications. Testimonial from men from aged 23 to 81 highlighted The Great Northern Union Chorus’ superb seminar on “Building An Intergenerational Male Chorus,” concluding with a breathtaking rendition of “A Tribute to World Peace” featuring Crossroads and Ringmasters.
Brisk booth traffic gave hundreds of educators armloads of music and ideas on bringing more male singers into choral programs -- and there were tags to be sung with directors and students alike.
The entire team working the booth was struck by the eagerness of guests approaching -- usually the tone was “Oh, great -- the Barbershop Society is here!” Educators are coming to recognize the value of our “no strings attached” attitude and quality materials. The Advocacy and Partnerships activities of our Outreach program succeed when more educators take the leap from curiosity to active participation and promotion of the style with their singers -- and 2017 at ACDA was another landmark step forward.