|2007 Fall District Convention - Rochester, MN
October 26 - 28, 2007
Midwest Vocal Express
|Midwest Vocal Express – Changing the Barbershop Contest Stage|
For the second year in a row, Midwest Vocal Express has won the annual Land O’Lakes District chorus contest of the Barbershop Harmony Society, this year held October 26 th in Rochester, MN. The LOL District comprises all of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and the western half of the Michigan Upper Peninsula, USA; and all of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and the western half of Ontario, Canada. Within the LOL are 53 barbershop choruses or "chapters," and many more registered quartets.
As usual, the guys didn’t just stand and sing two songs in tuxedos. Their storytelling ways had them dressed as 56 Pinocchio marionettes who come to life during “When You Wish Upon A Star,” then run amok with boyhood pranks on new-dad Gepetto during a medley including; “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Small Fry,” and “How Could You Believe Me?” Director Grant Wilson strutted onto the stage as a life-size Jiminy Cricket.
The Greendale chapter’s quartets Magnum, Easy Days, and Retrospect also competed, finishing 6 th, 15 th, and 19 th respectively. Voices Only (Josh Umhoefer, Jake Umhoefer, James Estes, Sean Sherrodd,) sang a special set of songs to mark the end of their reign as Land O’Lakes District 2006 Quartet Champions.
Sales were brisk of the chapter’s new MVEvolution DVD, chronicling their stage antics as Fish, Toy Green Army Soldiers, Broadway Waiters, and more. The DVD is currently available at the group’s website www.MVE.org.
The MVE is now working towards their Annual Holiday Show “Christmas with the Midwest Vocal Express,” Saturday, December 8, 2007 at Greendale High School. They will also release a Christmas CD of the same name at the show.
Now is a perfect time for men who love to sing to visit a chapter meeting, sing with the chorus, and consider auditioning to join the group. Midwest Vocal Express gathers weekly on Monday nights, 7:30pm at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 6705 Northway, Greendale, WI. Guests and their families are always welcome. No formal musical training is necessary.
|The MVE Story|
Originally directed by Frank Marzocco (1988-91), the MVE was fast out of the blocks, competing with 20-35 guys and singing some of the more challenging charts of the time. Greendale began a 15-year nearly uninterrupted string of second place finishes in the LO’L District.
Russ Foris, an accomplished arranger, took the helm in 1992. A seminal moment was in Fargo, ND, when the group did Foris’ arrangements of “Polka Medley” and “Tin Roof Blues.” Both resonated like no other contest set had before.
At the Buckeye Invitationals, the chorus learned to perform songs not as lockstep automatons – each doing the same motion the same way – but as individuals, following separate paths to achieve unity of message. Each man brought his whole life experience on stage, stripping away the plastic faux-emotion, regardless of performing a touching ballad or farce. The Barbershop contest arena had never seen this before, and audiences loved it. Never looking back, the MVE has always chosen themed performances.
Foris led the MVE from 1992 through 2004, arranging the music in the medalist “Waiter” and “Green Army” contest sets.
An extensive national talent search for a director ended where it began, when Dr. Chris Peterson, then a two-year member of the chapter, took over. Peterson brought his graduate training to chorus every week, demanding that great singing also become a hallmark of the chorus. In just his second International contest as director, Chris’ Starfish tentacles led the MVE to a medal in one of the most memorable sets ever to hit the contest stage.
The latest chapter in MVE history is now being written as Dr. Peterson has moved to California to begin a new career with Cal State Fullerton. The chorus continues to press forward under new director and long-time MVE member, Grant Wilson. Midwest Vocal Express is looking forward, ready to wow the crowd at the 2008 convention in Nashville with a brand new “over-the-top” set.
Midwest Vocal Express, Wisconsin’s only top ten chorus and 3 time medalists.
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