Tonight several thousand people will jam into the Axis Theater is Las Vegas to watch ten quartets compete in the finals of the international quartet contest. It is a thrilling event to witness, and unbelievably exciting to be a part of. Some friends and I will stay up late tonight to watch the live webcast. I can’t wait!
Today is the international chorus contest at the Barbershop Harmony Society‘s convention in Las Vegas. Hundreds of men from around the world are about to step foot on stage and deliver in roughly eight minutes the results of hundreds of hours of rehearsal and preparation. And tomorrow night is the finals of the quartet contest, in which a new international quartet champion will be crowned. All of this brings me to the fourth reason I love barbershop – competition.
I am a proud member of the Barbershop Harmony Society which is hosting its international convention this week in Vegas. Since I can’t be there to enjoy the fun, I’m listing the reasons I love this hobby. Monday I talked about how beautiful the music is. Yesterday, I reflected on how fun performing is. And today, I want to talk about friendships.
But first a little backstory.
This week is the international convention of the Barbershop Harmony Society. Many of you have probably never heard a barbershop quartet before, much less that there is an international organization devoted to this musical style. But there are thousands of people all over the world who are members of this organization, and every year the Society has a convention the week of July 4th. The convention offers classes, workshops, and several contests (including a quartet contest and a chorus contest). It is a great week for those who enjoy this hobby!
I live in two “worlds” – my church world and my barbershop world. Through preaching and teaching I have made many friends in churches around the world, and through the hobby of barbershop quartet singing I have made another set of friends around the world. Both of these circles of friendship are special to me and have given me great joy. Some of my closest friends are those who share the same overlapping circles.
But there is another sense in which these worlds intersect – music is vital to both. And in my own particular church background, the overlap is even greater, since our singing is done as four-part a cappella harmony, very similar to barbershop music. In this post I want to raise some concerns I have about music in worship that parallel concerns about music in barbershop.
The title of this article is inspired by an article written many years ago (“The Dangers of Sophistication”) by a barbershop music arranger named Val Hicks. In the article, Hicks lamented certain trends he saw in the barbershop style of music. As I reflect on music used in worship (at least in my church circles), I see some of the same dangers. Continue reading