So I was fortunate enough to be in Ohio and attend Music & More for the first time in several years and I was thoroughly impressed. Wapak may not be a premier choir in Ohio, but their competition is quickly growing to certainly be one of the best in the state. Finals featured choirs from 4 different states and only the Fairfield Crystal Classic was able to match that diversity for an Ohio comp. this year. So that's pretty awesome.
With that being said, I really do think that this competition was one of the best competitions this weekend. Sure it's in the shadows of Los Al Xtravaganza, but a competition with Fairfield, Clover Hill, and Albertville? It was very under-the-radar and incredibly intriguing. Some of Ohio, Virginia, and Alabama's very best duking it out for top honors. I had a great time and attended Finals only, so here are some thoughts on the choirs I saw based on order of appearance:
Wapak "Singsation": As the host group, you all gave a wonderful performance. It's the first time I have even seen you all in person since 2008(?) … so yeah. Leaps and bounds better and improved from when I was in high school. I am so in love with the direction you all are heading and am excited to see "Singsation" continue to grow the next several years. In regards to your show, I thought the "Earth Song" ballad was quite aggressive… in the best way possible! You all sang it with force! And then the organic transition to "MMMBop" was glorious. Hanson is (was) an awesome band and that song is historic and I love how it fit in the show. And then I think you all ended with a high energy closer, "Dog Days Are Over," which is pretty impressive since you were all busy and exhausted from Music & More host duties. Great work, Singsation!
Clover Hill "Iridescence": That set. That band. That energy. WOW. Very cool. Very creative. Nicely performed. I can certainly see how you were all the top women's group of the competition. The Doll-themed show was fresh and you all committed with that intricate set! I loved the detail. I think, to me, the highlight was the ballad. It was so soft, emotional, and powerful. It was a great moment in the show. I do think the show wrapped up quickly though, I wasn't expecting the "Born To Be Wild" closer based on the show trajectory… but overall it was great! Oh and I really enjoyed those sparkly boots in the closer! I kind of want a pair…
Fairfield "Choraliers": It's no secret that "Choraliers" are consistently one of my favorite groups and that I have enjoyed the "Back To The Future" themed show this year. I was so happy to finally see it in person! I LOVE the opening costumes! They're so bizarre and I want them. I also received the wonderful compliment from a friend that the saxophonist in the opener is like my doppelgänger from a distance. So that was cool since that person is incredibly talented. Fun fact, I used to play the saxophone! Anyways, I was so blown away by how well executed this show was. It was so very true to the actual movie it was insane! From the opening sequence, Marty's Mom, Earth Angel, to the actual DeLorean. I thought the "Marty's Mom" rendition of "Stacy's Mom" was so wonderful. Shane can confirm that I was skeptical of this when I first heard this was a song choice, but it was so funny and I loved that part of the performance. The partner dancing in "Call You Mom" was also on-point! The highlight, for me, was certainly the "Earth Angel/Time After Time" ballad. Easily the best ballad in Ohio this season. Not only did AJ kill that solo, but it really did have that "high school dance"-feeling to it which is true to the movie. Combining that with "Time After Time" was so great… the words, the build up, the energy, shoving David to the ground (sorry David!), it was gorgeous and stunning. There was such a fun energy beyond that point with the next few songs and it was so very enjoyable. The dynamics throughout the show were so obvious and really showed the vocal quality of this group. I am also a HUGE fan of the stuff Randy Sage and April James gave you all. Stunning. Very deserving of that GC trophy! Congrats Choraliers on 4-in-a-row to end the season!
Bishop Dwenger "Summit Sound": Although Wapak and Bishop Dwenger have crossed paths, I think this is the first time I have seen you all in person. I was definitely caught off guard! I was not expecting a story show. Especially from an Indiana choir! No offense to Indiana, but y'all are pretty much the epitome of classic show choir! So that was very refreshing. The high point to me was "The Adventure." I love that Angels & Airwaves song and have mentioned it previously as a potentially great show choir song and it fit incredibly well with your "Choose Your Path" story. It was so well performed! Those vocals! I think Alex Hall also gave y'all some really great stuff, so props to him and props to y'all for executing it. I'm not entirely surprised that you haven't placed well this season. Competing in Indiana, for one, but also the show is a bit explicit. It's literally a story show with a story book and spoken word guiding the show. Which is an approach that appeals to some. Since this was the one and only time I saw the show this year, I'm curious if the path chosen changed throughout the course of the competition season? If a different path was taken and the show was performed a bit differently? I think that would be really cool. Overall, cool concept. I'm glad I saw it. Congrats on ending your competitive season with a finals appearance!
Albertville "CenterStage!": So, Albertville. I was stoked to see you all in person for the very first time ever! Obviously I have heard (and even commented) so much about you throughout the years. The opening sequences were breathtaking. The immense amount of fog, the arduous waves… it was so cool visually! Another cool visual moment was the illuminated portholes which really played a major part in telling the story in my opinion. I loved the story being conveyed with the family. Vocally, I think the group had wonderful moments. "CenterStage!" was by far the largest choir competing in Finals, but it wasn't a "largest choir"-sound, it was a FULL sound. "Endless Night" was beautiful. It was EVERYTHING. But truthfully, I think my favorite part was the closer especially the "Don't You Worry Child" part. Not only that, but the closer was really the main part of the show that featured stellar vocals and precise high energy choreography at the same time. I would've liked to seen more of that, because it was SO GOOD! Don't get me wrong, the show was splendid visually, but there wasn't much dancing until the end of the show. Just a preference. I think some people, myself included, have been critical of Albertville in the past for having difficult show concepts that aren't relatable or easily conveyed to the audience… but I don't think this show had that pitfall. It was pretty easily digestible in person and was enjoyable to watch. I'm glad that I was finally able to see y'all in person! Despite being a different show, I enjoyed it and have much more respect for you all now. I was also sitting in front of some kids from Albertville before the finals awards and I just have to say they were so kind, funny, and I just enjoyed listening to their beautiful southern accents.
Fairfield "Pure Elegance": Let me just say I LOL-ed at your program introduction… "The ladies of PE wish to end world hunger, stop global warming, and of course hope for world peace!" I saw your show on the Marysville livestream, the YouTube video from the Crystal Classic, but in-person was of course so much better! I really enjoyed your Miss America themed show. It was a great story about breaking out of the mold and being who you are. The "Original" quartet was… WOW! The transition to all the ladies walking down the ramp in their Tiffany-blue dresses with sashes was POWERFUL! To me, it showed that united front and mutual support instead of the mean-natured, competitive spirit displayed earlier in the show. It was heartwarming. "One In A Million" was the centerpiece of the show and I enjoyed "Superstar" as well. Combined, those were great picks for the closer! It was a strong performance. I can totally see why PE has placed well in Finals against mixed groups in 5 of your 6 competitions! Truly incredible. Probably the best year in the history of PE! Bravo! Oh and I was also sitting by some Fairfield Dads… I think they helped with the stage set up and all of that… it was very neat to see how happy and proud they were of both "Choraliers" and "Pure Elegance." You all have a strong family in Fairfield and it's beautiful to see!
Clover Hill "New Dimensions": This was my first time seeing you all and after your performance I thought there was a really good chance you would be walking away with GC. The show was performed so very well. Very balanced. It wasn't my favorite show of the night, but I can certainly recognize high quality shows. You all had, by far, the most classic show of the evening with the theme and execution. You all had such a consistent sound. It was just a strong wall of vocals throughout the entire show. They weren't overbearing and they didn't appear weak. Just solid. I was SO overwhelmed by the "Baby You Can Drive My Car" guys number. It was one of the best guys numbers I've seen in a long time! Those guys can DANCE! It was so dynamic and performed with so much passion. Listening to the "Big Cheeks" was also quite enjoyable. Without a doubt, the best high school combo I have ever heard. It's no wonder you all have an undefeated streak! It was so soothing and literally at times felt recorded or professional. It was THAT good! I think your sound was more prevalent during the "Iridescence" show, but still quite wonderful for "New Dimensions." You all were such a classy group. The only choir that stood, unified, during Final awards congratulating each choir on their placement/caption awards. And the love you have for "Big Cheeks" when they won Best Band was lovely! It was great to see your pride. Thanks for coming to Ohio - please come back!
Final awards took a while. The competition did run about an hour behind, but it was overall an enjoyable evening of show choir in Wapakoneta, OH! I do wholeheartedly agree with the final placements. I think the judges definitely got it right! I think the Top 3 were probably really close and I could've seen captions going multiple ways. I'm glad Clover Hill was finally able to make it to Music & More and awesome to see Albertville return and hope to see them both back in the future!
Few shootouts to… Fairfield "Rhythm Express" for having back-to-back undefeated seasons! And to Kenton "Top 20" for sending their director off to retirement with a Class B championship! Great work, fellow WBL school!
Nice write up Jeff. Good detail and summary of each group. Meant to give you a thumbs up but clicked on the wrong icon. Sorry.
One thing on the 'Freshness' of the Doll theme, I know PE did the "Big Doll House" in 2012 and some of the songs and looks from C.H.I. were awfully familiar. I think 3 of the songs were the same as was the opening premise with the turn tables. Of course, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
I have to say, the Clover Hill kids who helped with the groups staging were great to talk to as were the stage dads. Great group of people!
The Stage Crew for Wapakoneta was fantastic. They were very accomodating and treated us as their guests. Thank You!
Jeff: Thank you so much for your kind words! This was Bishop Dwenger's first night show of the season, and yes, our show concept has been a challenge for the judges. We were thrilled to end our season with a night show! This was our first visit to Wapak and it was our favorite competition this year. Not just because of our performance and placement, but because the students and parents were so welcoming and kind. A very well run competition in a great facility. Hopefully we will be back next year! Congrats to all the choirs!
Glad to see you follow the SCC Twitter. I was at Music & More and tweeted that, but now that I'm home I've posted the full awards above. I wasn't there for prelims, so I know there are some missing captions such as best soloists, redskin award, and probably some others so if anyone would like to add those please do!
I had a really great time and will probably type up some thoughts. I also grabbed a program, so for choirs that provided information I'll be adding that stuff to the database shortly!
edit: Everything from director, choreographer, set lists, and more have been added to the choir profile pages for those groups that attended.
So, yeah, we are now less than a week from my daughter's final competition as a member of the Fairfield Show Choirs. Where have the last 6 years gone? It has been a truly fantastic period in both our lives and I know the emotions will be strong as she competes one last time with her fellow 6 years, her fellow seniors, and the last time as part of this group of young adults. Let's do this! Fairfield Choraliers 2014 - Back to the Future!
One week away!!!! So excited to be competing at Wapakoneta again this year. Last year's competition was such an awesome thing to be a part of. I'm extremely excited to see Fairfield, Clover Hill, and all the other incredible groups that will be there. CAN NOT WAIT!
I will make a small finals prediction, I'm not very knowledgeable towards any groups outside of the large mixed. So I will say that all 4 large mixed make finals. And I am not sure how Music & More is done (5 or 6 finalists?) but I will throw out projections for my 5th and 6th.
5th: Sheridan/ Clover hill Iridescense
6th: Sheridan/ Clover Hill Iridescense
As I said, outside of the top 4 large mixed, I have only seen Iridescense (Granted that was in 2010 at Belmont). So the last 1 or 2 finalist spots are up for my grabs in my head. But that is my out in for the time being, time to get back to psychology class
The performance schedule Antwon posted says 6. I think your predictions are pretty decent, Robert. I would expect the women's champion and maybe even Fairfield "Rhythm Express" to be strong finalist contenders.
My apologies, didn't even see that part of the post. But either way, I think I can stick beside my predictions. And reading the lineup I missed where Rhytm Express was a middle School group, I do nt now if they will be able to make finals or not. But it is up for grabs in my opinion, outside the the Tier I groups.
Edit: didn't realize Rhythm Express was a middle school, wanted to fix my finalists .