Power Quartetting

It was more than just another great weekend of chord ringing and fellowship for me. It provided a much needed charge to my barbershop battery.
Paul O.

I just wanted to publicly thank everyone for a great weekend. I look forward to singing with you guys again next year!
Mark E.

I had a fantastic time, and will definitely be recommending this event to all my friends for next year!
Drew O.

WOW! Wall-to-wall singing, all weekend! What a good time we had! The rest of you missed a marvelous weekend!
Bob T.

What is Power Quartetting?

The inspiration for the Power Quartetting program came from the Harmony Brigade movement which started in the Eastern United States several years ago. The Portland Metro Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society wanted to organize something similar, but after some investigation we decided that doing a full Harmony Brigade was beyond our abilities. We identified two different kinds of events, less-demanding, that we could do instead. In 2008 we organized an intra-chapter event in which singers learned four simple arrangements, and then sang them in various quartet combinations during leisure moments at our fall retreat. On the final evening we had an informal contest of six quartets; most singers got to sing twice.

This successful first-level event led to the planning of a second-level event, our first Power Quartetting weekend. It was scheduled in late June of 2009 and promoted, not only to chapter members but to inactive barbershoppers in the Portland area and to other chapters throughout the Pacific Northwest. Six songs were chosen, music and learning tracks procured, and copies were distributed to the participants six months in advance of the scheduled event. In Portland there were review sessions held monthly the final four months to encourage singers to learn their music and try it in quartets ahead of time. Our chorus rehearsal venue seemed an ideal setting for such an event, with a large meeting area in a church basement and numerous classrooms for break-out groups. We planned to hold the show on-site in the basement area.

When the weekend of the event arrived, there were about twenty guys who participated, almost half coming down from the Seattle area and beyond. On Friday evening there was time set aside to check-in and get acquainted. Then, after a brief explanation of the weekend's activities, we sang through the songs, two at a time, then retired to two classrooms to sing them in quartets for about 45 minutes before coming back to preview the next two. This took us to about 9:30 when we dismissed for the night. Local barbershoppers opened their homes so that out-of-town visitors could spend the night.

On Saturday, after a good vocal warm-up led by a director/participant, the group alternated between quartetting sessions and sessions of rehearsing the songs as a chorus, twenty minutes per song, under the direction of a couple of skilled participants. Lunch was served on the premises, included in the $49 registration fee ($79 within six months of the event). The sessions continued until mid-afternoon. A debriefing discussion was held for a few minutes, and then came the draw for quartets to compete in the evening contest/show. A lead's name was drawn blindly from names in a basket, and that lead was allowed to draw for the other quartet members. A song was then chosen randomly for the quartet to sing and the process was repeated until all participants were included. There were fewer leads, so a couple of them got to sing in two quartets. From then until the show at 7:00 the singers could divide their time between rehearsing with their quartet(s) and eating supper in the neighborhood.

The show was advertised to the locals for a $5 admission fee and it began with the emcee explaining a little bit about the weekend's activities. Then the combined chorus sang three of the songs. As they left the risers to prepare for the quartet contest, the emcee explained the circumstances of the contest. Then the quartets, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc., took turns singing their song. After it was finished, the chorus took to the risers to sing another song while the audience voted for their favorite on a ballot that was part of the show program. After an intermission the chorus opened the second half with a song, and then the winning quartet was announced. They were given certificates and invited to sing a second song of their choosing. Then the chorus sang their final song before a guest quartet closed the show with a package.

After the show everyone was invited to continue the festivities at a local pizza place where a banquet room had been reserved. Much of this time was spent with various singers teaching tags to the rest, followed by singing the tag in quartets until everyone that wanted to had participated. The weekend overall provided a great time to get acquainted with singers from around the District and everyone was enthused to repeat the event again the next year.