Young male singers from all parts of Canada prepare for the annual Barbershop Harmony Society International Youth Festival
Wow! What a weekend!. A look at pasy years:
The Cross Canada Chorus participated in the Youth Festival this past weekend at the MidWinter Convention in Las Vegas and achieved a Superior rating. The 84 members of the chorus under the direction of Jordan Travis and Shawn Oakes received standing ovations for all three songs (Yessir, That's my Baby, Put Your Head on My Shoulder, and Circle of Life), with the third song, Circle of Life, being the highlight of the weekend (Lion King is presently being performed in one of the venues in Las Vegas and when you arrive in the airport, Circle of Life, from the show, is being piped over the sound system in the airport).
I think it is also necessary to comment here on what a Superior rating is, and why the CCC (Cross Canada Chorus) results did not appear in the published scoresheet.
In a festival environment, there are three ratings; Good, Excellent, and Superior. These align roughly to scores of less than 61, 61 to less than 75, and 75 or higher respectively. This was the fourth year of the festival and with any new concept, there are growing pains. One of the significant aspects of this year's event that caused some intense discussion was the concern expressed that this was becoming a younger barbershop chorus contest rather than a youth chorus festival. Following some discussions in Las Vegas, the chorus directors were given the oportunity to opt out of having their scores posted in a scoresheet. Five choruses chose this approach, including the Cross Canada Chorus, so the scoresheet only showed 14 of the 19 choruses that participated. It was the view of these five choruses that the scoresheet should only indicate, in alphabetical order, the choruses that achieved Good, Excellent, or Superior rating, plus plateau winners and a grand champion, and no actual scores should be shown. That would be in keeping with the spirit of a festival rather than a contest.
The Cross Canada Chorus team are very unified in the support of this concept. The Cross Canada Chorus program is intended to provide an opportunity for young men to experience barbershop singing. It is not intended as a recruitment tool for signing up new barbershoppers.
The 84 young men were not told the actual score that was achieved by the chorus, but were told the chorus had achieved a Superior rating and had improved on the previous year's performance, and they were all quite satisfied, and in fact quite excited, by this information. Judging by the tagging and singing that was going on in the halls with young (and old) men from all over, the exerience was the most important thing.
I should also explain another approach that was used this year, and that related to the singing order (and which caused some consternation for those watching the webcast). We, as barbershoppers, are used to knowing the draw ahead of the "contest" and then the choruses sequester themselves until they are due in the stage cycle. With the festival concept, the intention is to have the members of the choruses watch the other choruses perform, so in order to achieve that, the chorus to sing first was drawn and posted 30 minutes before the start of the contest so they could start the stage cycle. The chorus singing second was posted 15 minutes before the start, and the chorus singing third was posted just before the start. Once the festival actually started the next performer was drawn immediately following a performance (i.e. performer #4 was drawn at the end of performer #1's performance, etc.). The 19 choruses had originally been split into two groups, with 10 choruses in the first group and 9 in the second, so the choruses knew whether they would be performing before or after the intermission, but not specifically when. The Cross Canada Chorus were in the second group so we knew they would be perfoming after the intermission, but not when specifically after the intermission. It was quite amusing watching the young men staring intensely at the screens after a performance to see who was next in the cycle, and we got the ideal performance slot of singing last, with Circle of Life being the last song performed for the afternoon.
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The Cross Canada Chorus was the largest chorus in the festival and the feedback from the judges in the adjudication session (evaluation session for those used to contests) with the entire chorus present, was very positive. There was also amazement on their part when they learned that many of the elements of the performance (including most of the physical moves) were implemented Friday morning when the Cross Canada Chorus were able to hold their first rehearsal with everyone present.
The Cross Canada Chorus want to thank everyone for the wonderful support we received in getting ready for and participating in the festival. Special thanks to the many individual and chapter donations that helped with the financial burden of participating. There was a very large Canadian contingent of supporters in Las Vegas and they were very vocal in their support. Thanks also to Bruce and Darryl Marchant for the donation of the Cross Canada Chorus t-shirts. The whole convention knew we were there.