|By John Braden|
The Kansas City Chapter Board voted May 10 to return the Heart of America Chorus to full-time in-person meetings every Tuesday night beginning May 18.
After 14 months of pandemic-inspired Zoom meetings, the chorus met in-person April 20 and alternated in-person masked-up meetings with Zoom meetings through May 11. The Board decided that had been a sufficient test period and OK'd a return to regular mask-to-mask meetings.
The in-person meetings will be held through the remainder of May at 7 p.m. in the band room of Center High School, 8715 Holmes Road, Kansas City, Mo. Singers are masked and spread out as much as the room allows.
The initial in-person meetings focused on harmonizing traditional Barbershop Polecat songs and singing a bunch of new and old repertoire tunes.
The May 4 in-person meeting included two new members, Chris Walker and Danny Anderson, plus another 20 regulars. Additionally, the ad hoc Zoom chairman, Barry Sanders, managed to "broadcast" that meeting via Zoom to members who were shut in or not comfortable returning in person yet.
In preparation for full in-person gatherings, President Mike Schumacher called on members to enter the east door on the north side of the building and to remember their masks, water bottles and nametags that have been sitting in drawers for a year. Guests are always welcome.
HOA to meet at First Methodist, Blue Springs, in June-July
Another, temporary, change is in the works. Center announced that the school building will be closed for major remodeling in June and July. As a result, the Board voted May 10 to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at First United Methodist Church of Blue Springs, 301 S.W. Woods Chapel Road, Blue Springs, during those two months. First UMC was the site of the chorus' recording of the Caroling Caravan fundraiser for the Salvation Army last November.
|By John Braden|
After 14 months, the Heart of America Chorus held its first in-person chapter meeting April 20 at Center High School. A total of 22 members met mask-to-mask at 7 p.m. in the band room.
Members were excited to see and talk with each other in person, but were especially happy actually to hear each other harmonize after 14 months of muting themselves and Zoom singing with learning media or videos. The chorus mainly sang traditional Barbershop Polecats plus a couple of "new" repertoire songs they started learning pre-pandemic.
Featured participants were new member Chris Walker and returning "old-timers" Rick Foreman and Carl Turlin.
Those participating were asked to wear masks and submit to temperature checks. Plus, the band room allowed more social-distance space than the choir room the group formerly used.
President Mike Schumacher said the chorus planned to meet in person every other week, making the next in-person gatherings at 7 p.m. May 4 and 18 at Center, 8715 Holmes Road, Kansas City, Mo. The group is to meet via Zoom on the intervening Tuesdays. Schumacher said the chorus hopes to return to weekly meetings depending on results of the trial in-person meetings.
Guests are always welcome, whether actually or virtually.
Speaking of Zoom, the ad hoc Zoom chairman, Barry Sanders, attempted to "broadcast" the April 20 meeting via Zoom to members who are shut in or not comfortable returning in person yet. However, that effort failed due to problems with wireless Internet connection. More research needed.
Technically, the full chorus did meet twice during the 14-month pandemic lockdown, once to practice for Caroling Caravan and to record the virtual Caroling Caravan at First United Methodist Church of Blue Springs. Also a handful of the group met at Cave Springs Park for outdoor singing last summer.
Center has announced that the building will be closed for major remodeling in June and July. The chapter is seeking an alternate in-person meeting place for those months.
|By Jerry Meier|
Sixteen student quartets representing six area schools were brave enough to overcome obstacles of the pandemic and participate in Harmony Explosion! 2021, held virtually on Saturday, March 27.
Special rules were enacted this year to encourage choir students to participate virtually even though many students could not meet in person to practice! The student quartets were asked to submit an unlisted YouTube video performance of their a cappella song.
Our eight Harmony Explosion! judges, four from the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) and four from Sweet Adelines International (SAI) scored each video for singing quality and overall performance. Eight quartets earned GOLD medals and eight quartets earned SILVER medals.
A list of all 16 YouTube links from Harmony Explosion! 2021can be found on the HOA Chorus website. Go to the News and Events tab under Harmony Explosion!
I want to say THANK YOU to the vocal music teachers at the six schools participating in Harmony Explosion! 2021:
Pam Williamson - Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kan. (3 Quartets).
Robin Christie - Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park, Kan. (5 Quartets).
Dr. Dwayne Dunn - Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Kan. (1 Quartet).
Jerrod McNutt - Augusta High School in Augusta, Kan. (2 Quartets).
Jason Cole - St. James Academy in Lenexa, Kan. (3 Quartets).
Jessica Seidler - Prairie Star Middle School in Leawood, Kan. (2 Quartets).
Medals were awarded to the following quartets:
8th Grade SAI: SILVER Medal - Prairie Star Bombs (Prairie Star)
8th Grade Mixed: SILVER Medal - Rolling Tones (Prairie Star)
10th Grade SAI: GOLD Medal - Treble in Paradise (Bishop Miege)
10th Grade SAI: GOLD Medal - All Naturals (Olathe Northwest)
10th Grade SAI: SILVER Medal - Dreamers (Bishop Miege)
10th Grade SAI: SILVER Medal - Bishop Miege Stagettes (Bishop Miege)
10th Grade BHS: GOLD Medal - Three and a Half Men (Lawrence)
10th Grade BHS: SILVER Medal - Trail Mix (Bishop Miege)
10th Grade Mixed: SILVER Medal - Mixed Up (Bishop Miege)
12th Grade SAI: GOLD Medal - Rosettes (St. James Academy)
12th Grade SAI: GOLD Medal - Sole Sisters (St. James Academy)
12th Grade SAI: GOLD Medal - Fortes (Olathe Northwest)
12th Grade SAI: SILVER Medal - Local Vocals (Augusta)
12th Grade BHS: GOLD Medal - Accidentals (Olathe Northwest)
12th Grade BHS: GOLD Medal - Crusaders (St. James Academy)
12th Grade BHS: SILVER Medal - Five Cannibals (Augusta)
I want to recognize and say THANK YOU to the Harmony Explosion! 2021 judges:
Kansas City Chorus (SAI): Susanna McBride, Heather Schouten, Mary Olson, Liddy Miller.
Harmonium (BHS): Micah Jeppesen, Mark Fortino, Michael Troyer, Marshall Crowl.
They did a great job encouraging all of the student quartets to continue singing together for next year!
SAVE THE DATE -- Harmony Explosion! 2022 is planned for Saturday, Feb. 19, at Grace United Methodist Church in Olathe, Kan. Let's try to get everyone back together, safely in person, to enjoy the student quartet performances once again.
I can't wait to see you there next year!
|By John Braden|
The Board of the Kansas City Barbershop Chapter voted April 12 that the Heart of America Chorus will resume in-person chapter meetings on a test basis beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, at Center High School.
The board also scheduled in-person meetings May 4 and 18 at Center, 8715 Holmes Road, Kansas City, Mo. Those participating are to wear masks and submit to temperature checks.
Visitors are welcome if the comply with mask, temperature and distancing protocols.
The board decided to return to in-person meetings on an alternating Tuesday basis, perhaps eventually returning to weekly meetings depending on meeting success and member response.
The chorus is expected to meet on other Tuesdays on the Internet via Zoom to continue to serve out-of-town or shut-in members who have been participating via Zoom. The chapter has met weekly via Zoom since the pandemic began, but the software program causes any attempt to sing "live" together to be out of synchronization.
The in-person meetings, which previously were held in the Center choir room, will be moved to the Center band room. Members are able to gain access to the room via the north doors of the high school building.
Center has announced that the building will be closed for major remodeling in June and July. The chapter is seeking an alternate in-person meeting place for those months.
|By Don Fuson, Membership VP|
In response to effects of the Coronavirus pandemic shutdown on the Kansas City Chapter and its members, the HOA Board has reduced chapter dues 25 percent for the coming year.
Recognizing that 2020 was most unusual in terms of chapter planning and chorus performances, and recognizing that some of the members probably saw the reduction in what the chapter delivers (or could deliver) for our members, the Board discussed and passed the 25 percent reduction. The effective dates are from March 16, 2021, through March 15, 2022.
The chapter action does not affect International or Central States District dues assessments but should save a few bucks for HOA members as follows:
Regular membership - $40 to $30
Senior (age 75+) - $30 to $22.50
Youth (under age 26) - $20 to $15
50+ years as a member - still $0
Use that spare change to know that the fellowship of the members is the foundation for our collective singing and performances, giving those tuneful sounds back to our community. Meanwhile, your Board is making safe plans for an (eventual) return to face-to-face meetings, and President Mike Schumacher is keeping the count of our COVID vaccinations.
|By Jerry Meier|
Harmony Explosion! 2021 will be 100% virtual and it's for fun! Students are encouraged to keep it simple (no stress). Vocal Music Teachers are encouraged to allow their students to participate and give it a try. They have NOTHING to lose!
After talking with several teachers, I moved the date and extended the deadline for Harmony Explosion! 2021 to alleviate the anxieties with Spring 2021 academic schedules, deadlines and attendance changes.
Extending the deadline to the end of March will give students more time to consider Harmony Explosion! as a classroom project for their Spring semester.
We are not trying to force anyone to do it -- we are simply trying to give students the opportunity to do it!!!
Vocal Music Teachers are thankful. Many of their students do not want to submit videos for State Solos and Ensembles this Spring (an event that is also 100% virtual), because of the difficulties associated with that activity. However, those same students can prepare a simple Harmony Explosion! performance video to fulfill their classroom requirements.
The deadline for submitting unlisted YouTube videos is now 6 p.m. Central Time on Friday, March 26.
I have no idea if this year's virtual Harmony Explosion! will be widely accepted. The students will not be traveling on a Saturday and will not be singing live on a stage. But in this COVID-19 world, the students could be more eager to try it for the first time. We could get 10 videos or we could get 60 videos. Regardless, we have a hand-picked set of volunteer judges ready to review as many videos as necessary, to ensure the success of this wonderful program.
Special thanks to Harmonium (Micah Jeppesen, Mark Fortino, Michael Troyer, Marshall Crowl), Carter Combs, Bob Velazquez, Michelle Hunget, Heather Schouten, and the Music Team of the Kansas City Chorus of Sweet Adelines for volunteering to judge this year.
(See the Harmony Explosion links on the HOA chapter home page, www.hoachorus.com.)
|By Jim Bagby|
After literally missing two months of virtual meetings, the New Harmony Handful returned virtually intact on March 15 with visions of an April meeting with each other actually – in person, that is.
A poll of the 21 NHH members found almost 100 percent have completed both COVID-19 vaccinations. So there was a lively discussion about the possibility and practicality of returning to our Blue Ridge Presbyterian home meeting base by April, or June at the latest. We’ll keep our Heart of America family posted. Singing is still second to safety.
But we had a great time. January weather had wiped out that monthly rehearsal. And in February, arm-waver Jim Bagby was recuperating from a brief hospital trip. After a few anxious days, the doc called and said “No worries, mate.”
So Barry Sanders did his usual bang-up job as our Zoom moderator, and also filled in for traveling Don Fuson as DJ. And he had plenty of songs to choose from. John Erwine and Don have recently spent a lot of hours in our library, and got all the songs with four-part tracks to Barry. We also have quite a few more recorded with lead tracks only, so we need to get Jim and our music team on the ball!
In addition to the discussion of vaccinations, our evening included hearing the highly interesting barbershopping life of bass and retired career Army officer Daniel “Bart” Bartholomew. And we tried to catch up on birthdays.
So it was a great night, overall. Some of the singing might have been a bit rusty, but we were happy to be back together. We’re eager to sing in person, and have real breaks with the wives’ homemade baked goods!
|By John Erwine|
Our own Prez Michael Schumacher visited WinterStone Golf Course, met with Club Pro Mike Strother and presented him a $500 deposit reserving Sept. 23 for HOA's 2021 Golf Scramble! How great is that? It is WinterStone again! On a mild Thursday in September, the sun will be out providing a glorious day for HOA and its golfers.
It is about six months before our usual time in September for the Golf Scramble. Last year's planning started only 2.5 months prior to that day. Therefore, we have an additional 3.5 months to better prepare, recruit more golfers, sponsorships and donations.
Last year's scramble, conducted admirably by WinterStone, produced no contracted virus or ill feelings among any of our golfers. The course was immaculate and appreciated by all players. And just as importantly, the box lunches were first rate. We cannot express gratitude enough to their staff for welcoming and looking after us. We also had more golfers (64) than in any prior scramble. Our net bottom line, from our now major fundraiser was fantastic, even with the COVID crisis.
What is next? It is called FOLLOW-UP, especially since life is improving. These 3.5 extra months give us the opportunity to knock 2021 out of the park! Three things are primarily responsible for making this our biggest year ever: Players, sponsors and donations. Sponsors and donors could improve their businesses, and secure tax write-off benefits. Players gain from an improved game, improved scorecard math, comradery, storytelling, HOA support and other imaginative benefits.
This is where I, and HOA, ask for your support. We need your suggestions, active recruiting efforts in all phases, volunteer time and any other ways you can offer yourself to make this a blockbuster event for 2021. Contact me at (816) 520-5708, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be looking forward in the coming weeks and months for updates as we proceed.
|By Mike Schumacher|
In March of 2020, we would have been dumbfounded and in complete denial if someone had told us the COVID pandemic would have wreaked such havoc and made us really think outside of the box.
With rehearsals being held on Zoom and shows and other activities being canceled, one of the members of the Heart of America Chorus took it upon himself to spread some joy where little was in sight. John Braden created the “Barbershop Underground” experience for all of our e-mail recipients.
Using all the resources he could get his hands on, he e-mailed a video performance of a very talented quartet or chorus (many of whom were International Champions) every single day. And as of this writing he has sent 349.
If you asked him, he’d say it wasn’t that good of a deal or it wasn’t that hard to do. The point is he came up with the idea and he carried it out! Not only were the selections entertaining but also educational since he usually had an interesting fact or story to go along with them.
He helped keep the HOA Chorus SPIRIT in high swing. I know our guys look forward to seeing what comes next and many of them and I have shared them with family and friends.
John, on behalf of the guys in the chorus, Thank You for continuing to entertain and teach and inspire us until we get back together and ring those chords, sing those tags and entertain others with our barbershop style.
|By John Braden|
Mike Mathieu -- who has been a leader swinging the red kettle for the Salvation Army for at least 35 years -- announced the Heart of America Chorus raised more than $19,000 for the Army in its first-ever virtual Caroling Caravan.
The Coronavirus pandemic upset the annual plan in which chorus members and quartets loaded on a bus to visit a handful of area retirement centers, singing and bellringing. For the previous 17 years, the Caroling Caravan, led by Mike and Bob Burdick, sang to residents and raised in the neighborhood of $25,000 in a single day.
With retirement centers locked down for the duration, the chapter hit on the idea of video-recording a holiday concert for distribution, primarily by YouTube. The First United Methodist Church of Blue Springs agreed to provide its facility and its volunteer camera and sound crews to make the recording.
Mike said donations totaled $19,482. He said he was disappointed that the virtual Caravan could not top previous receipts. However, HOA President Mike Schumacher said he was amazed by the overall efforts by the 32 guys who stepped forward and wanted to be a part of this historic HOA event.
President Mike said not only did we raise funds for the Army during a very bleak year of contributions but he hopes HOA members feel good about giving some people, many who were quarantined in their rooms, the love, joy and hope that should abound during this time of the year!
"I want to express our undying gratitude to Mike Mathieu and Bob Burdick for their leadership in our past Caroling Caravans," President Mike said. "I pray we can get back on our bus in 2021 to bring our holiday cheer to as many as we can in person."
As always, Mike Mathieu carried out the real legwork for Caroling Caravan. Mike contacted Vocal Spectrum, 2006 International Quartet Champions, who gave us permission to include three of their Christmas songs on our finished product. Mike also contacted our mainstays, the retirement centers who could not allow us to visit in person due to the COVID-19 scare.
Mike spent hours contacting activities directors to tell them HOA had not forgotten them and we would be bringing holiday cheer to their quarantine conditions in a new performance they could show as many times as they wished. Mike also hustled contribution fliers and envelopes to all the centers to ensure they did not forget to contribute to the Salvation Army. Other donations were sought by chapter members and friends forwarding the hoachorus.com website and Caroling Caravan YouTube link to friends and acquaintances.
Board members ensured the recording session could be conducted safely -- socially distanced on a large "stage" in a sizable sanctuary with a ventilation system that draws in outside air. After not singing together for eight months, chorus members masked up and submitted to temperature checks on entry for one rehearsal, Oct. 27, followed by the performance on Nov. 7, 2020. Singers' usual holiday garb was highlighted by the addition of colorful Christmas-themed facemasks.
Bob Velazquez, Jim Bagby and Mike Schumacher directed the holiday songs, while Mike Mathieu recorded all the intros and donation pitches for the Salvation Army. In addition to the video performance of Vocal Spectrum, chapter quartet Swing Shift provided a video recording.
Bob Velazquez recruited the chapter website whiz, Marlin Weidler, to splice together the individual recordings into our own music video, which was posted on YouTube and highlighted on HOA's new website.
To continue to donate to the Salvation Army through HOA, go to https://donate.salarmymokan.org/campaign/2020-heart-of-america-chorus/c308426.
Two veteran Barbershoppers were singled out for honors at HOA's first Zoom video Installation and Awards Night on Jan. 12. The Kansas City Chapter recognized 32-year Barbershopper Marlin Weidler as Barbershopper of the Year and presented 38-year veteran Ron McIntire the John Cross Award.
Barbershopper of the Year -- The chapter annually recognizes and honors certain members for significant and meritorious service as the Barbershopper of the Year. There have been 74 winners of the Barbershopper of the Year -- or its previous titles of Man of the Year, Honor Night winner and Achievement Award winner. The 2019 winner was Operations VP Steve Keisker.
Marlin Weidler, the 2020 Barbershopper of the Year, joined the Society in 1988. He's been a faithful chorus boy, quartetter and Board member. In front of the annual Installation Banquet, he once wore a battered top hat, scarf and red rubber nose to play a melting snowman during a performance of "Let it Snow" by his then-quartet Reverie.
Marlin has spent a lot of time recently doing vital chores for the chorus while health problems -- Parkinson's, a urinary tract infection, back surgery and who knows what else -- have hindered his being an active singer. He has served as ticket chairman and Singing Valentines organizer. He has spent hours mastering the transition to a new chapter website. And when Bob Velazquez asked if he had ever put together a music video, he said no but agreed to do it anyway. So, he created our first Caroling Caravan video and still retained his trademark smile.
And the poor guy was sitting there running tech for the Zoom awards night when his name was announced. Here's to Marlin Weidler, the 2020 Barbershopper of the Year!
The John Cross Award is presented annually to the HOA member with the best attendance record and who is always on hand to take on the job no one else wants. The first award was presented in 1989 to John Cross himself, a full 33 years after the cranky, sharp-tongued, ornery old cuss was named Barbershopper of the Year. There have been 31 John Cross Award winners, with the plaque captured in 2019 by cranky, sharp-tongued, ornery old Director Bob Velazquez.
Ron McIntire, the 2020 winner of the John Cross Award, joined the Society in 1982. He has turned up in various jobs over the years -- many of them thankless. In 1989 as membership vice president, he tied Ed Ward's record for 36 new members in one year. He has faithfully carried out the annual creation of the chapter directory -- and the Central States District directory -- with nobody even asking. He seems to be singlehandedly nagging us to keep Harmonotes operating. He makes all the Barbershopper of the Month, Extra Mile and other such awards. If this isn't John Cross-type thankless work, what is?
Ron should have won the John Cross Award long ago but he failed the attendance requirement. Instead, he ended up in hospitals and rehab centers for weeks at a time, year after year, through no fault of his own -- well mostly no fault of his own. Mostly we blame gravity.
This year, however, due to only two hospital bouts in 2020 -- and the wonders of Zoom attendance -- he wins in the attendance category, too. And thanks to the wonders of Zoom -- and Don Fuson holding his phone up to the computer screen -- Ron "attended" the virtual awards night from his latest rehab center where he was recovering from a broken hip. Here's to Ron McIntire, the 2020 John Cross Award winner!
Joe, Oz remain on the shelf in 2020
Joe Stern Award -- Because of the significance of this honor, this year the Joe Stern Award panel voted to make no 2020 award. Our chapter's most prestigious award, the Joe Stern Lifetime Achievement Award, is named for a man who was a major influence on the Kansas City Chapter of SPEBSQSA and on Barbershopping as a whole.
Oz Newgard Award -- In keeping with the significance of this honor, this year the Oz Newgard Award panel voted to make no 2020 Ozzie award. The "Ozzie" was initiated by the Rural Route 4 to honor their coach M.O. "Oz" Newgard, a former director of the Alexandria Harmonizers and a senior sound judge who helped HOA to its first Central States District chorus title. The Ozzie is presented to the individual who has provided outstanding musical service to the chapter and chorus.
By Jerry Meier
Central States District President Duane Lawson installed the Kansas City Chapter's 2021 officers with a resounding “Hell Yeah” to renew their commitments to serve and support the chapter.
President Mike Schumacher counted 37 chapter members and four guests who attended the 2020 Awards and 2021 Installation (non-)Banquet via Zoom video conference on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Guests were Duane, Chris Walker, Charlie Hill and Dale Neuman.
The 2021 officers are as follows:
President Mike Schumacher
Immediate Past President Barry Sanders
Secretary Tom Hadley
Treasurer Harvey Shapiro
Executive VP Harvey Shapiro
Marketing VP Adam Singleton
Chapter Development VP Don Fuson
Music & Performance VP Carter Combs
Operations VP Steve Keisker
Program VP Jerry Meier
Members at Large: Tony O’Brien, Vince Perry IV and Marlin Weidler
You might recognize the fact that all 2021 officers agreed to return to serve another year, since 2020 seemed to be “not an actual” year on duty. Thanks were given to former Board Member Greg Busch, who did not re-up because he's returning home to Indianapolis.
Bob Velazquez, Heart of America Chorus director, renewed his commitment to lead the 2021 Heart of America Barbershop Chorus and to improve the chapter and each member this year.
President Mike Schumacher reminded us that the Heart of America Chorus is “our chorus.” He encouraged all members to continue promoting our chapter and our chorus, while conversing with potential new members and customers. He challenged chapter members to continue working through the pandemic to prepare for future performances – they will come and we will have fun!
John Braden stepped in again as the “Official Organizer of the Awards” to recognize and honor the 2020 award recipients:
-- Ron McIntire was recognized and honored with the John Cross Award for 2020.
-- Marlin Weidler was recognized and honored with the 2020 Barbershopper of the Year Award.
-- There was no Oz Newgard “Ozzie” Award given in 2020 for Outstanding Musical Service to the Chapter.
-- There was no Joe Stern Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award given in 2020.