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Revised International Contest Expansion Proposal

September 24, 2019

Revised International Contest Expansion Proposal | Medals and Award Options

Timeline and Overview

Since the announcement of the Everyone in Harmony Strategic Vision, we have looked forward to providing an opportunity for all singers to take part in the Barbershop Harmony Society International Quartet and Chorus Contests. That era will begin with the 2021 International Convention in Cleveland.

Beginning in September 2018, a wide-ranging process of study and development led to a preliminary International Contest Expansion Draft Proposal released in June 2019. Feedback from that first release led to further discussion among the Society Board of Directors, BHS Executive Staff and Events team, district leadership, and the Contest & Judging Committee.

On September 24, 2019, the Society Board released a revised proposal for discussion and feedback from all corners of the barbershop community: contest fans, past and future competitors, quartet and chorus singers, judges, coaches -- everyone! -- to ensure that all viewpoints are represented.

A feedback form will be open until November 1, 2019. We welcome your thoughtful responses on these specified topics.

Proposal Summary

The project vision from the start has been to provide:

Simplicity in implementation

Equality in competition

Qualification for International Contest

Through multiple iterations, the team explored many paths, but ultimately recommended what truly are the simplest, most direct processes for qualification.

All performers, regardless of district geography or classification (men, women, mixed harmony), take three steps to qualify:

  • Register a quartet or chorus with BHS
  • Enter any available preliminary competition, beginning January 2020
  • Achieve a minimum score of 78% for quartets or 81% for choruses.

Each BHS district will be assured of one quartet and one chorus representative to the international contest, provided the ensemble meets a minimum qualifying score of 76% for quartets and 74% for choruses.

(These are the recommended qualification scores for Cleveland 2021. This number may be changed on an annual basis by the BHS Executive Director in an effort to achieve the desired number of competitors, including additional wildcard positions for quartets and choruses.)

International Contest Operation

All quartets enter the quartet contest equally, and all choruses enter the chorus contest equally, with order of appearance determined uniformly for all without regard to ensemble classification.

See the full proposal

Click here to view the proposal.

Recognition of top performers: still to be determined

We know that the International contest is important to the legacy and identity of our organization. It’s central to how we celebrate our barbershop heroes, past and present. Starting from a vision of simplicity and equality, how does the Society best celebrate the achievement of the top men’s quartet, the top mixed chorus, the overall grand champion, and so forth?

Seeing the complexity and emotional weight of these issues, the Society Board deferred a final decision on the question of awarding medals and titles, pending your feedback.

Watch the video explaining three options for awarding medals and recognizing our champions:

Three different options for how awards will be given have been identified, and we are seeking your feedback before making a final recommendation to the Society Board. The identified options are:

Three Classifications, Five Medalists Each

  • Champions and medals awarded in each of the 3 classifications -- men’s, women’s, and mixed.
  • With this option, men are competing only against other men, women against other women, and mixed groups against mixed groups. Three champions and sets of medals will be recognized and no overall winner is declared.
  • This is similar to the first proposal that we shared in June.

One Overall Champion, Five Medalists

  • One champion and set of medals awarded to the top 5 scoring ensembles, regardless of classification.
  • With this option, all the groups are competing against each other.
  • The BHS International champion is the highest scoring ensemble regardless of classification -- men’s, women’s, or mixed.

One Overall Champion, Five Medalists + Three Awards

  • Combination of the options above: One champion and set of medals awarded to the top 5 scoring ensembles, regardless of classification, with 3 additional awards recognizing the top-scoring ensembles in each of the classifications -- men’s, women’s, and mixed.
  • With this option, the groups are competing within their classification (men’s, women’s, or mixed) while also competing against all other groups for the overall championship and top spots.
  • This is the most similar to how districts handle awards today, with multiple contests occurring at the same time.


Click here to share your feedback on the options above.

Other questions?

Read the Frequently Asked Questions

What do you think?

The feedback form will be open until November 1, 2019.

We welcome your thoughtful responses on the specified topics.