Thursday, February 22, 2007

A real whiz!

Two Brandon posts in a row, I know, but he's earned it! CONGRATULATIONS to Brandon, captain of the Armstrong Middle School 6th grade Whiz Quiz team (and pictured here with the team sponsor): They defeated Murphy Middle School to win in the District finals this evening! (Immediately after the awards ceremony he changed into a dress shirt & tie as we drove back across town to his school, so he could join his honors choir concert -- we made it just in time for the last song!)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Money? I vaguely remember that...

The change one week can bring...

Before, when we had at least some extra moolah:

...and After, when we're poorer and an orthodontist is richer:

Thanks to Brandon for letting me post this online. And congratulations to Benjamin, who took home an Honorable Mention at the District Science Fair with his partner Jarom!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chords that ring forever

Thank you, Vocal Majority.

I have a handful of favorite memories from things I've done in my life, and as a singer, some of my best memories involve music. I've already mentioned in previous articles about getting to sing with Russ Taff, Steve Green & Point of Grace, all spectacular experiences with my church choir. Some others stand out: spending a summer touring across the U.S. and Canada with the Continental Singers, culminating in a huge concert at the Long Beach Arena in California; performing Forever Plaid two years running, and then some, with a great group of guys in SE Texas. Another fond musical memory involves just singing around a piano -- with a handful of other members of the Oklahoma Baptist University Chorale, a spontaneous "premiere" of a favorite choral arrangement for the author of the song.

I think I've just added another one of those memories that will stick with me for life.

Last week, I had the privilege and honor to attend, along with my father-in-law Bob, a rehearsal of The Vocal Majority. If you've never heard, or heard of, the Vocal Majority, you owe it to yourself to correct that deficiency in your life. Officially the Dallas chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, they bill themselves as "America's Premier Pops Chorus" -- and they have earned that title. VM is a group of 130+ men who perform (mostly a capella) a huge repertoire of favorites: not just barbershop, but gospel & inspirational, Broadway, pop, standards, patriotic, you name it, in concerts and competitions year-round. They are also the reigning gold medalists in the BHS's international barbershop chorus competition, and they have won that championship an unrivaled eleven times, including the past ten times in a row! In other words, they're good.

They're also, as Bob & I learned, a lot of fun to sing with. Yes, that's right, we actually got to sing with them at their rehearsal. For such a talented group, they are also very welcoming and open! When we checked in as visitors (& after being very warmly welcomed!) we were each given a heavy 5" binder filled with music, matched with a member who sings the same part, and invited onto the risers to sing with them for the entire rehearsal! And let me tell you, it was a glorious experience. I've been singing all my life, even dabbled with barbershop in college, but to be surrounded and enveloped by such lush harmonies and tight chords -- and to get to add my voice to the mix -- was beyond description. It was musical heaven.

(Okay, reality check: the rehearsals run 3-1/2 hours long, and the entire time, except for a ten-minute break, we stand on risers! So, honestly, only the first two hours were really glorious. The last 1-1/2 hours were slightly painful -- but still amazing!)

So, add another incredible musical memory to my collection of favorites -- I sang with the Vocal Majority (and I have the pin to prove it)! I hope to sing with them again (and perhaps again and again and again -- but I shouldn't get ahead of myself), but this first time will stay with me for a long, long time.