High school students learn barbershop harmony at Super Sing
By BOLESLAW KOCHANOWSKI
Special to The Gazette
Area high school students attended and performed at Super Sing 2016, a youth harmony workshop, held at Ben Franklin Junior High School in Stevens Point Saturday, Jan. 30.
The event was sponsored by the Northern Gateway Chorus of Stevens Point and introduced the students to the four-part barbershop harmony style of a capella music.
During the day, the students from Crandon, Pacelli, Pittsville and Wautoma high schools were divided into male and female choruses. The boys were instructed by Super Sing clinician Kevin Morrissey and helped by quartet Regal Blend. Kathleen Harris was the girl’s chorus clinician, and she was helped by members of the quartet, Dream Ride.
The event concluded with a free public concert at which the two student choruses, the teaching quartets Regal Blend, and Dream Ride, the Northern Gateway Chorus and the Center Point Chorus of the Sweet Adelines performed.
The workshop was free of charge for the student participants. Music and learning tracks were supplied by the Northern Gateway Chorus. A pizza lunch and commemorative T-shirts were also supplied.
John Lay, director of the Northern Gateway Chorus, said, “It was a great event, it was a lot of fun interacting with the young people, and I think it is likely that we had a very positive effect upon their array of choral experiences. Kevin and Kathleen did a wonderful job working with the youth. The young people responded very well to their coaching. They are talented presenters.”
Morrissey was a past director of the Northern Gateway Chorus and is a vocal music teacher for the Wautoma High School.
He said, “It was an absolute pleasure to spend the day with these young gentlemen from surrounding schools. They came well-prepared with high energy and an extremely positive attitude. They were willing to try new ideas and their musicianship was superb.
“Thank you to the Northern Gateway Chorus for hosting a highly organized, wonderfully implemented, and fun-filled day of music-making in the barbershop harmony style,” he said.
Harris directs the Center Point Chorus as well as being a member of the Dream Ride quartet. She said, “I had a wonderful time and hope that the young women did as well. We (Dream Ride) enjoyed teaching barbershop harmony to the next generation of women.”
Harris said she hoped the Northern Gateway Chorus was pleased with the results of the day and acknowledged what an undertaking it was to put together a day like the Super Sing.
Super Sing is an initiative started in 2015 from the Wisconsin Land O’Lakes District of the Barbershop Harmony Society. It was named Super Sing because the workshops run the weekend before Super Bowl. Super Sing encourages interaction between school music programs, educators and the Barbershop Harmony Society, as well as the Sweet Adelines, the female counterpart for barbershop music.
Ideally, music chosen for the Super Sing workshops come from the Wisconsin School Music Association solo and ensemble contest list. The culmination of Super Sing is that any Wisconsin high school barbershop quartets that receive a 1 or 2 score at state will be invited to participate in the Wisconsin High School Quartet Festival.
This year the event will take place May 21 at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc. The festival judges are certified through the international Barbershop Harmony Society.
Brian Lynch, public relations director for the Barbershop Harmony Society, headquartered in Nashville, said, “We think it is critical to support school music programs and educators, because the arts are a vital part of a complete education.”
Ron Odejewski, Super Sing chairman, said, “The Barbershop Harmony Society has a Youth in Harmony program, and this fits perfectly with its goals of encouraging young people to explore more musical outlets. The youth are not familiar with our style of singing. Super Sing was a good approach to get younger folks interested. Initially we had 100 students sign up for the event.”
The Northern Gateway Chorus is reaching out to all generations of men singers. They are invited to be a guest at the Monday night rehearsals at Harmony House, 3500 Harmony Lane, Stevens Point. Call 715-344-5746 or 715-457-2801 or go online to www.stevenspointbarbershoppers.com/ for more information.
Women are welcome to be guests of the Center Point Chorus of the Sweet Adelines. Call 715-344-9052 for more information or go online to www.centerpointchorus.org.
For more information about the Barbershop Harmony Society, visit www.barbershop.org.
For more information about the quartets go to Dream Ride Quartet on Facebook and www.stevenspointbarbershoppers.com/regalblend/.
For more information about the WSMA go to wsmamusic.org.
Editor’s note: Boleslaw Kochanowski is a member of the Northern Gateway Chorus of Stevens Point.