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The Experience of my First and Second Convention

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I joined The Kingsmen Barbershop Harmony Club at the end of a very enjoyable Learn To Sing Course they ran in early 2016. 

As you can imagine my focus, and that of the other ‘new starts’, since then has been on learning the repertoire of songs and participating in a number of sing-outs and events, including The Kingsmen’s 25th Anniversary Concert held toward the end of 2016; all wonderful opportunities to put the learning into action – but nothing to compare with the build up to, the excitement of, and the overall experience gained from performing at Convention for the first time.

Competition day (the Kingsmen were due on stage at 16.28) started in our hotel with a chorus warm-up and run through of final instructions before departing to the venue. I was immediately struck by the scale of the event with numerous choruses and their supporters coming and going in the entrance hall and by the sound of warm “good to see you again” conversations and the familiar harmonies of pole cats being sung in café areas. Following registration it was time to take a seat in the auditorium to listen to other choruses perform and to take in the sense and importance of the occasion. I left the auditorium with the sound of “stewards close the doors; house lights down please; contestant number etc., and cheers from supporters.” ringing in my ears.

As briefed by some of my more experienced colleagues the clock ticked by very quickly and in no time at all we were on our way to the dressing room. On entering I was greeted by a smartly dressed and smiling ‘gangster’ with the words “good luck” – this small but large gesture summing up the spirit of brothers in harmony. Looking around the dressing room I noticed choruses in the various stages of final preparation, with some of their members sitting quietly in contemplation, whilst others chatted ‘ten to the dozen’. Then it was off to the photo shoot before being escorted to the warm-up room and then through the ever narrowing corridors, with their ‘quiet please’ and ‘final hold point’ signs, before arriving at the steps that lead up to the stage. Walking onto the stage the noise from our fantastic supporters and warm applause from others in the audience, and the judges, was very uplifting. As predicted our performance was over in a flash, but due to technical difficulties with the sound equipment it was decided that we would sing again!

After my ‘second performance experience’ at Convention and final visit to the dressing room (this time bumping into a friendly character from Oliver) I returned to the auditorium and sat with other members of The Kingsmen to listen to the remaining choruses compete. Before the announcement of the results the event was wrapped up by a wonderful performance by the 2016 Champions, The Cottontown Chorus, and a moving speech given by one of their members. The speech touched on the horrific bombing in Manchester earlier in the week and reminded all in the audience of the intangible value, power and importance of music and singing – the latter sentiments taking me and this short article full circle by bringing back to mind friendly and encouraging conversations during my Learn To Sing Course.

Ian Wooler, Kingsmen Club Secretary

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