In attempt to clear up any confusion, the results of this competition, while surprising to many, are very well deserved. Congratulations to all groups who competed. It truly was an honor just to be included in a pool of choirs as talented as those present at this amazing event. People still seem to be confused by the results and I'd like to offer my insight although it may mean nothing to most... Prelim results were very different than finals and there are multiple factors that played into that in my opinion.
One is the simple fact of going from four judges to nine. Overall, this did not cause many problems as most judges were in agreement and all nine were incredibly qualified for their position.
The second, and what I think is most responsible for the flip in results, is the switch of scoresheets that I have yet to see be deeply discussed. My understanding is this.... Prelims was scored on a clear vocals/choreo sheet while finals was scored on an overall show comprehensive sheet. This means all nine judges scored groups on both vocals and choreo. What is most responsible for the rising of both John Burroughs and Center Grove, to me, was the idea that the shows were judged on the overall effect of their show rather than technique, cleanliness, tone quality, vowels, etc. in finals. This is becoming common practice in the show choir community just like the idea of consensus scoring (the reason for the flip in single gender results). This is why people, including the Show Choir Live hosts, might have expected Franklin Central to receive best vocals (or at least considered them a serious contender). What most failed to consider is the fact that while some schools exhibited "better" vocal technique (completely subjective), the judges were in overwhelming consensus that Los Al was superior in telling the story and conveying their message through their performance- and most would agree + is well deserved. This, to me, is partly what is responsible for John Burroughs and Center Grove rising to the second and third place positions after finals. Fourth place was given to Franklin Central with a slightly theatrical, but not story show. And then came Mt. Zion with no theme whatsoever, although many saw them as one of the best groups in choreo overall.
This is not AT ALL to say that certain groups placed well because they had a story or themed show but rather to say they placed the way they did because they did those shows and did them so WELL! I'm just offering this as an explanation to those who think the results were skewed or rigged- which they were not!!
My only suggestion, which I have wanted to express for awhile now is this: if any given competition, such as this one, decides that they would like to judge attending groups on the overall show (which is very common and valid!), this should be consistent between prelims or finals-
And here is why....
As I have seen expressed on the forums of this website and by many directors, choreographers, judges, and professionals, finals are offered at most competitions (in the inner midwest regions at least) to offer feedback to the top groups and allow them to grow, improve, and adapt between a daytime performance and a nighttime performance. This also gives those top groups the ability to give the judges what they might prefer, playing into the competitive aspect of it all.
To me, the idea of giving groups feedback on one scoresheet (offering the choir comments on their technique, cleanliness, style, etc.) just to be judged on another scoresheet focused around the overall effect of the show is counterintuitive. I would love to see consistency between prelims and finals when it comes to scoresheets, whereas the switch to nine judges was a well executed idea that I appreciated! This is not me "blaming" the results on anything that Heart of America decided to implement at this competition but rather offer feedback on a growing practice of the show choir community. Because after all, this community is constantly growing and changing thanks to the feedback of those who are members of it! Take everything I say with a grain of salt as I am not all-knowing nor do I claim to be. Again, congratulations to all groups at this competition because it truly was a mix of some of the best groups I have ever seen and it was an honor just to be there. Feel free to offer any insight that I don't have because there are many more experienced and qualified individuals on this forum than I!!!
I'm a bit late to the party, but I just arrived back home... the drive from Florida to California is quite the trek!
I was going to touch on a few different things after the event, but Adam already spoke to much of what I wanted to say (and did so quite beautifully), so I will save everyone the essay.
That said, I did want to take some time to give some thanks.
First of all, to anyone who watched the live stream and especially those who offered kind words about the production - thank you. I don't think anyone really has any idea how massive these things are and I'm usually so beat down by the end, but your comments *really* make everything worthwhile. I don't take anything for granted and your support in just purchasing a ticket means we get to continue to bring these awesome competitions to you wherever you are. At the risk of sounding like a huge softie, I was starting to tear up reading some of the messages I received... truly from the bottom of my heart I am grateful.
Secondly, I need to echo what Adam said and thank my crew... my enormous crew of two people, Matt and Earl. These guys drove literally all the way across the country with me, gave up their own time to make the live stream happen, and stayed until 6am the morning after an already 20-hour work day to wrap cables, pack boxes, and get everything out of the convention center. The sun was actually coming up by the time we got back to our hotel. Besides being rock stars at their jobs, they've shot show choir with me for almost 6 years now and I can't imagine putting on a production like this with anyone else. This is the first time we had seen 90% of these shows, so we had no idea when a soloist was going to pop up out of nowhere or a giant ripple was about to flash across the stage. They get the shots I need every time and really make it a special experience for everyone viewing at home.
I also really, really want to thank Adam and Alex for everything they contributed to this show. I personally don't believe there is anyone else on the planet who could do this job as well as they do. Not only are they just crazy knowledgeable about show choir, but they are complete pros in front of the camera as well. Never once did they utter an "um," never once was there awkward dead air... they just knock it out of the park every time. This isn't like a network show where there are rehearsals and cue cards... I basically tell them "we're live in 5 minutes," and they just turn it on. What makes this live stream different than any other show choir live stream ever is Adam and Alex. Period. I hope we can keep doing these things because I feel like we get a completely different level of interactivity when these two are there, and it elevates the competition from something that just the people who are there get to enjoy to a cultural event that everyone can share together.
I need to thank Chad a million times over for believing in us, for giving us free reign to be creative and represent his organization, and for taking the steps necessary to make sure our production is successful. He doesn't have to go through the hassle and expense of putting on a live stream, but he sees how many people all across the country are able to enjoy these performances together and has made it a priority to ensure it happens. We heard of entire groups getting together to have viewing parties at someone's house and that's just so cool. This flat out would not be possible without him and I cannot thank him enough.
Lastly but certainly not least, I want to thank someone who wasn't even there... my showchoir.com partner in crime, Jeff. The last handful of years have become increasingly difficult to keep up with everything we have to deal with on the website and when I take two entire weeks to just up and drive to Florida to shoot a live stream, he's the one keeping the site going. In fact, the majority of what I do with SCC right now revolves around fixing things and adding new features... it's Jeff and the rest of the crew who are handling most of the competition results and choir data and all sorts of things you don't even think about. There are no salary jobs at showchoir.com... everyone who has helped keep the records up-to-date has done so on a volunteer basis because they love show choir and this community. Often times during competition season it can require as much time and energy as a 9-to-5 job. And not only is Jeff irreplaceable as a staff member (his attention to detail just might possibly be as anal as mine), he's the nicest and most humble guy I know. showchoir.com would probably have burned down years ago if Jeff didn't come along to help save it, and it's the one thing that really brings joy to my life. How can I put a value on that? I can't, but I'm going to shout it from the rooftops as often as I can. When I'm working on bringing everyone a livestream, he's making sure that every competition result across the country is still popping up in real time for you to look up. He's simply the best.
I want to finish by sharing something that this competition really brought home for me. This whole year I've spent a lot of time thinking about what it is we do and how to best represent it. There has been a renewed talk of rankings, which brings with it discussion about the overall competitive element of show choir. It can be a sensitive subject, but I think it's a mistake to ignore it or dismiss it completely; we go to competitions to compete, after all. But seeing group after group at HoA Orlando executing at such a high caliber also reminded me that show choir itself is unlike any other activity out there, and it's the things which make it unique that make it so special. I do believe that most of the time the judges get it right, and I do believe there is merit in rewarding excellence. But unlike a game where whoever scores the most baskets or runs across the finish line the fastest is the only winner, in show choir the winner can be whoever you want it to be. Score sheets just focus on one particular aspect of a group, and it may not be the part that matters most to you. If a group moves you to tears or opens you up to new music you've never heard before or makes a connection with you over a shared experience, those things can be life-changing. None of that is on a score sheet, but can matter in a personal way more than "precise diction" ever would. So I think we should respect the decision of the judges no matter the competition, but at the same time recognize that it's just one group of people's opinions focused on one set of criteria. If we can all do that, then maybe things like scoring and placements and even rankings won't seem quite so controversial... especially when all of the groups in contention for awards are phenomenal.
And please also remember that only one group can take first place. That doesn't mean that the group who got second or third or sixth was any less exceptional. It doesn't mean that if a group didn't make finals, they were "lesser." There are simply a finite number of slots, and short of handing out 6-way ties, a decision has to be made.
I do want to give out a few shout outs to some groups and people who really left an impact on me personally.
First, Sophia Wackerman from Los Al is getting a lot of (well deserved) praise, but I also think the male lead in the show is phenomenal as well. I don't even know his name, but my jaw was on the floor the first time I heard him at Hart and think he's one of the strongest soloists I've seen on a show choir stage in a long time. I'm sure you already know how awesome you are, but I just wanted to give some extra praise. Also, Josh Greene shows yet again that he's nothing short of completely brilliant. This show could/should be on broadway right now.
Powerhouse has been one of my favorite groups forever, and I think it has more to do with the connection they make with their music than anything else. I can't describe it, they just make me FEEL. Their ballad this year gives me goosebumps every single time, and "Cover Your Eyes" is a gem of gems. I think on a technical level there are other groups who do things that they don't, but if I could only pay money to see one group, it would be them. Every song is on constant repeat in my head.
Franklin Central gets my award for group of the year. They've swept just about every single competition they've been to, but it wasn't their vocals or choreography or band that won me over. It was their complete and total dedication to their show that just impressed me so much. Every single person in the group was giving 100%, all the time. It made shooting the show a complete joy. We wear headsets during production so I can communicate with my camera operators and tell them what shots I need, but for FC Singers it didn't matter. Every shot was a great shot because every performer was amazing. This is exactly what I mean about it doesn't matter who wins, because you don't need a blue ribbon to justify your show. You just don't.
The last thing I will say is there were actually two groups that I personally had in finals that didn't make it, and though I'm not going to single anyone out (again, the placements aren't the important thing here), I hope everyone who performed on that stage realizes what an unbelievable event it was. I've seen a lot of show choir through the years, but this was the pinnacle for me. What Adam said about the variety is spot on. I loved all of it. I don't want 10 Burroughs or 10 Los Als or 10 Franklin Centrals either. Just keep being amazing individuals and letting YOUR style and light shine through. We all win when you do.
I guess I ended up writing an essay after all. Oh well, I love show choir.
I have been thinking about something related to this competition, and I would love to see what others think. Full disclosure: this is not an opinion I made because of this competition, and I don’t mean to discredit any groups by asking this.
If two groups tie for 6th, should a tiebreaker be used? Or should both groups be able to make finals, and then let tiebreakers happen in final awards? I kind of think Petal should’ve been allowed to compete in finals, as well as any group who ties for the last finals spot at any competition. Clearly the judges couldn’t decide, and it sort of sucks that Petal didn’t make finals because of a rule.
It's worth noting that at a national competition like this almost all groups stay in a hotel the night of the competition making it a slight bit easier to get away with tagging on a finalist. However, I would personally keep the tie-breaker. If the scoresheet is weighted 60/40, the vocal winner should perform at night. If it's 50/50, consensus should be used (in my eyes.)
I agree that the tiebreaker should be vocals. Definitely not complaining about the results. And I was honestly only rooting for Prairie at this competition, so I am not at all angry about results. I was just thinking about how I’d feel in Petal’s position. And, again, keep tiebreaks for all final results!!!
Although this sounds like a good idea, it isn't practical. Time constraints, expensive trophies, existing rules, and fairness to judges, production crews, volunteer staff and event coordinators would all preclude the additional disruption of adding a 7th slot to a 6 choir finals schedule. Having codified tie breakers in the rules puts a fair though sometimes difficult structure to a competition. No one at this event, or any other where a tie breaker needs to be applied, should feel bad about their placement. Let the chips fall where they may and may the best choir be awarded their due according to the rules. The judges DID decide. Best vocals took the spot. Petal is still an awesome group with a worthy show.
I would also say no for the sole factor that it was a "paid for" livestream. If it was made as accessible for everyone for free, then you would have been scamming all paying clients. Maybe if you have to pay for it....
Not illegal, it would just be VERY expensive to acquire sync licenses for every single group that performed. That's why the performances were only broadcasted live. Unfortunately, none of them were archived so they are no longer available.