Saturday, July 04, 2009


We sing until about noon, and then it’s time to go to the Marriott for our mass rehearsal with the other two choruses.

I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of sound we can make with 450 champion barbershoppers together under the direction of three of the best directors in the Society. More so, though, it will be interesting being in the room with the Masters and the Ambassadors for the first time since the contest.

We walk through the parking lot, past the Hilton, and across the street to the Marriott, the same route we walked yesterday before the contest, minus the tuxes. Since we’re the last chorus to perform, we have time to change later.

We wind through the Marriott hallways to another large ballroom. This one has a mega-set of risers linked together, about fifteen or sixteen sections, as opposed to the eleven the VM normally uses. It turns out that the risers the mega-chorus will use at the Honda Center will not be on stage, but on the floor where the judges’ pit normally is. Somehow the thought of 450 guys massed together on an elevated stage gave fits to the Honda Center staff and the Fire Marshal alike!

The VM is the first to arrive in the rehearsal room, and we have about a third of the risers allocated to us. It’s still a very tight squeeze. We have to “shingle” to the extreme – turn our bodies sideways, with just our heads facing the director, and even then we have several rows of men on the floor in front of the risers. It gets warm and uncomfortable in a hurry. I find myself on the fourth row instead of the back row, just one person from the edge of VM on the stage left side. The Ambassadors will be filling in next to us.

Being one row down from the top, I quickly come to realize how much I’ve relied on having the rail behind me for support, so I can shift my weight off my repaired ankle while we’re not singing. Fortunately, one of the guys directly behind me can’t see well past me and asks if I’d mind switching places. I “do him a favor” and agree.

Ah, much better – and it’s cooler on the back row without guys behind me!

The Masters file in the room after we are in place and take their position on the stage right side of the risers. Now we just need the Ambassadors here to get this going.

Of course, this has the potential for awkwardness. They just beat us, and now they have to stand by us. Nothing’s been said amongst VMers as a whole about what to do when the Ambassadors arrive, but I know what I plan to do.

The first Ambassadors appear in the doorway, already dressed for the show. I and several other VM guys begin applauding, and it quickly swells to a rousing cheering session for the Ambassadors. Every Vocal Majority member, and every one of the Masters, is clapping and cheering his heart out for the Ambassadors as they stream into the room, now in massive numbers.

The effect is startling, even touching – many of the Ambassadors are coming into the room with almost a hang-dog expression on their faces, as if they were worried or even dreading having to face the chorus they defeated. When they realize the reception they’re getting, they break into relieved smiles. Some even begin blinking away tears.

The men of the Ambassadors start taking their places on the risers next to us. Those of us near them on the risers make a point to shake their hands, clap them on the back, offer our congratulations. Some of them are now openly wiping away tears from the ovation.

Because there are so many men in the Ambassadors, it takes fully ten or eleven minutes for them all to arrive in the room and get in place on the risers. All through that time, the applause and cheers continue without lessening one bit.

I’ve never been prouder to be in this brotherhood of barbershoppers, or to be a member of the Vocal Majority.

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