Friday, July 03, 2009

Contest Day

It’s Friday, the day of the contest. I wake up ready to leap out of bed and take on the challenge. Until I look at the clock – it’s 3:30 in the morning.

Fortunately I’m able to settle my brain and go back to sleep.

By 5:40, though, I’m awake again, this time for good. I lay in bed thinking over the coming day until 6:30 – I don’t want to bother my sleeping family – but then I get up and grab a cereal bar for breakfast.

I wasn’t sure what I’d be feeling today, but I guess I always assumed it would be a pretty nervous time for me. I’m surprised that there are no nerves. I’m prepared. I know what to do. The routine has been drilled so many times there are absolutely no doubts.

Unlike the Quartet Competition, which has three rounds, the choruses compete in only one round, two songs each, with the highest scores determining the winners. There are 29 choruses competing in two sessions. The first session is from 10:00 to 2:30, with fifteen choruses, and the remaining 14 perform in the second session, from 8:00 to 10:00.

The Vocal Majority’s contest slot is number seven, about halfway into the morning session, meaning we’ll be onstage somewhere around 11:30 to noon. Then we’ll have a long wait for the results, until the end of the second session. At least we’ll be able to come back and watch the second session and enjoy the other choruses’ performances.

We’re especially interested in The Ambassadors of Harmony, from St. Charles, Missouri. They’ve won the gold before, back in 2004, and they’ve taken the silver in the previous two years’ contests. They’re widely regarded as the strongest competitor to VM. They’ll be performing in the evening session, and I’m curious what they’ve come up with.

Even though the VM may not be onstage until Noon, we start the “contest pipeline” much earlier, 7:30, to give time for warm-up, costuming, makeup, official photographs, more warm-up, and transportation to the Honda Center. It’s a big job moving all these big choruses through these events with such timing, but the Society’s been doing a good job of it for years, and they have it down to a science.

As I’ve been doing for weeks and months, I make sure I’ve downed lots of water before leaving the room – gotta stay hydrated. This time I make sure I have a few other items with me: my room key/bus pass; my Barbershop Harmony Society membership card; my convention registration ticket (Brandon got back safely with it yesterday). I also take the black leather pouch Becky gave me yesterday, the one with the gold “Chuck Mitchell” ribbon and the vial of gold flakes.

I grab my “VM bag” – actually a very nice red-and-black travel bag we got from Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club – which has my patent leather tux shoes, extra socks, t-shirts both dark and white, and my sparkly fuchsia tie. It also has my VM jewelry – sparkly cufflinks, “bling” (sparkly lapel pin), and sparkly bolo tie (which we won’t be wearing today).

Hey, we’re a show chorus. Sparkle comes with the territory.

I run through my mental checklist once more and kiss my just-now-rousing family goodbye. They wish me luck, and I’m out the door.

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