Barbershop quartets and choruses from around the Midwest will meet and perform in a national competition at the McPherson High School auditorium this today and Saturday.
This is the first time the Midwest competition will be in McPherson. The competition is one of two held every year, with the next competition in the fall.
Seven collegiate quartets and nine choruses will compete in front of judges from around the U.S. for a chance to compete on an international level. The international competition will be held in Toronto, Canada, in July.
The competing teams come from the Central States District, which is comprised of South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and a portion of Arkansas.
Quartet semifinals begin at 7 p.m. today, and costs $20 to attend. Finals will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, which costs $30 to attend.
College contest begins at 1 p.m. today and is free and open to the public.
Chorus finals will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, and costs $25 to attend.
Full registration for the all events cost $55, with a cost of $27.50 for those age 25 and younger.
Registration will take place near the south door to the high school.
Money collected from registration will go toward fees set by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. The fees are royalties sent to the composer, author or publisher when their publication is performed publicly.
Merlin Dresher, president of the Men in Harmony Chorus in McPherson County, said the challenge of bringing such a national competition to McPherson was the smaller size of the community compared to past locations.
“It's really a very complicated process,” he said. “They have to make sure there's enough microphones, that there's a big enough stage area, that the city has proper accommodations ... but not all towns cooperate like McPherson does. The Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the hotels, the motels, the high school — they all worked together.”
The Men in Harmony Chorus, which is made up of about 25 men from around McPherson County, will perform in the opening ceremonies for the competition but will not be competing.
Dresher said the Heart of America chorus, a 120-plus member national chorus based out of Kansas City, will be performing this weekend. They will not be competing, but will still receive scores from the judges on their performance.
Dresher said the joy of a barbershop quartet is the pleasant chord received from the human voice making different tones.
“The human voice can tune a chord through physics,” he said. “As you tune the chord, you continue to bounce the sound waves higher, and the tone you hear is much higher than what they're singing. Even the finest instrument can't reach that perfect match of overtones.”
Page 2 of 2 - The competition also will host a marketplace, selling themed merchandise, and show a brief history of the last 75 years of barbershop quartets.
Joseph Tuszynski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on twitter @JoeTSentinel