The Sounds of Aloha Chorus had a very successful and long overdue reunion with the larger Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) last week at the BHS Far Western District Contest and Convention in Riverside, California. From October 13 through 16, SOA members experienced all the talent and camaraderie of our brothers-in-song from California, Arizona, and Nevada. It was the first time SOA had performed on the Mainland in a decade.
Participating choruses and quartets perform two-song sets before a panel of judges, who score them in the categories of singing, music, and performance. The district contest features only those groups that have qualified for this level of competition in division-level contests throughout the rest of the district. Out of 19 choruses in Riverside, SOA placed ninth, with the highest scores it ever has earned. More important, the performance package masterminded by Musical Director Mark Conching went over big, featuring a cool rendition of the Sinatra hit "(Love Is) The Tender Trap" and a hilarious and theatrical parody of the barbershop standard "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue." The parody started out as a recounting of how the chorus had been stranded trying to get to the competition that morning, then took an even more unexpected twist to end with a musical invitation to SOA's traditional convention mai tai party that evening.
Two SOA quartets also made their presence known in their part of the contest. Funny Bones brought the house down with their comedic musical tour of the Hawaiian islands. 19th Avenue made it into the top ten quartets and the final round of the contest, ultimately placing eighth out of 29 quartets and earning the highest scores ever achieved in district contest by a Hawaii men's quartet.
Best of all, though, was receiving such a warm welcome from and the chance to socialize with so many members of our great fraternal organization -- men truly of all ages and all walks of life from a great swath of the country, united by their love of a cappella harmony. As we say at the end of every one of our weekly meetings in Honolulu, "It's great to be a barbershopper!"