I attended Northrop's finals competition and was, for the most part, impressed with the level of performances. Several groups that I had already seen this year were noticeably improved, and the other groups I was seeing for the first time gave competitive performances.
Not having seen their show since Southmont in November, I was curious to see the changes that had been made in the mean time. I thought the edits to the closer were a smart decision, and I felt the flow of the second half improved because of them. However, it's still impossible for me to understand how Fairfield was able to take vocals over a choir like Findlay when the girls began to sound strained and almost shrill at times in the closer. Also, though I appreciate the ambition that comes with toting around such a large set and performing a themed show, I don't think the backdrop or costuming relates much to the show's concept. The choreography was clean and precisely executed, and the show was performed with energy, but I thought another choir gave a performance superior to Fairfield's.
Unfortunately, results didn't work out in Findlay's favor. I was disappointed to not see such incredible musicianship rewarded appropriately, but I imagine that their show is a vastly satisfying one to perform regardless. Honestly, though I have found past Findlay shows to be hit or miss in entertainment value, I find the first four numbers of this year's set to be exceptionally conceived. The group sticks to their trademark, classic aesthetic, but their singing is the best I recall hearing from them live and the choreography is never boring or low energy.
Having been unimpressed with their show at Piqua, I was pleased to see a large improvement from Dekalb on Saturday. Vocally, I felt the opener was much stronger than before, though energy and resonance in the voices was lost as the show progressed. Also, though I don't think this set is a standout among Dekalb shows, the performers were clearly having a good time onstage.
Another Indiana choir that's gone through a director change, I was pleased to see that Homestead was very competitive at Northrop. The show was a Mike Weaver hit parade, and I have seen the same second half performed live at least once before, but the group was able to execute their set at a level that showed this group's future potential. The band was also too timid at times, but balance issues may be resolved as their season progresses.
It was easy for me to see why Norwell won the small mixed division while watching their finals performance. I'm told the song selections are largely Carroll retreads, but the singer/dancers gave a spirited performance and made up for their size with enthusiasm. My biggest complaint about Norwell's showing would be the unnecessary set and how uncoordinated its coloring is with the group's costumes. It amounts to little more than an eyesore and I don't think it adds anything to the group's performance.
I hadn't seen this choir in a year or two, and in the meantime it appears the group has become the premier small group (Class C choir, if you will) of Ohio. Though I found the choreography to be too simplified to be entirely effective, I appreciated the relative strength of the group considering the size of their parent school. I went to a high school with a student body of about 350 before transferring to Marysville, so I can appreciate how difficult it is to find support for the arts in small districts. I hope this group can continue to grow and place within finals competitions in the coming years.
Fairfield was outstanding. Their show had just about everything you could want, great vocals, high energy choreo, great visuals (with costumes and their very elaborate set). They did a superhero theme. Themed shows sometimes scare me. Some judges hate them, but this one worked. It was unique and I think that got them the win.
Findley: They also had a great show. Findley is one of those schools that has a look, and this show looked like a Findley show. I know they get criticized for it but, let’s face it, they have been very successful. It was very well designed/performed show. Of course they tapped...
Dekalb: This also looked like a Dekalb show, but I think they sound better (earlier) this year. They had some great costumes and yes, the America the Beautiful ballad worked for them.
Homestead: Missed them:-( Glad to see the new director still got them into finals though.
Norwell: They always have such a pretty sound for such a little group, and I think they are even littler than ever this year (maybe 18). Elegant costumes and nice visuals with the back drop.
Cory Rawlson: Also a small mixed choir so way to go making it to finals!
Wow, what a day. I'm so glad I made it back for the Classique, even if half the day I was moving risers
I didn't get to see Norwell or Cory-Rawson, but I have to say I think the judges nailed this one at least with the other groups. (Sadly) This was my first competition of the year, so I didn't really have any idea what I'd be seeing from any of the groups. With that, here's a mini review
Fairfield - Just awesome! Your show was entertaining throughout. Who'd ever think that 'Spiderman' could be such a great show choir song?? You're sound and look was the best of the day, keep up the good work!
Findlay - Now, usually I'm not as big of fan of the classical shows like you guys usually have, but this one did something for me. This was I think the 4th group I've seen do "coffee in a cardboard cup" and yours was the first I've actually enjoyed! You could tell that everyone was having a good time performing. Also, "Puttin' on the Ritz" was one of the top songs of the night, hands down. I'd like to see how close the scores were, because it was very close in my mind between you and Fairfield.
Dekalb - Once again, a high energy show. When I hears that your ballad was "America the Beautiful' I'll admit I was sceptical, but you snag it beautifully, and it worked really nicely. I did feel that this was sort of a run-of-the-mill show for you guys though, I miss the Dekalb from 4-5 years ago.
Homestead - I think I like what Mr. Shaw is doing there, being his first year as a director it was hard to know what to expect from you guys. You still sounded and performed as well as previous years' groups. The only thing is, you guys probably had the least energy of the groups I saw, which is understandable being the last group of the night.
Overall, this was one of the better Classiques so far. It was weird to get my first taste of show choir as an alumni, but I enjoyed seeing everybody, hopefully I get another chance or two to see Charisma this season!
Thanks to Northrop for hosting a great competition. Well-run, good food, and some terrific shows. The balcony DID get a bit toasty in finals, though, didn't it? God Bless, and thanks for a great day, Damon Brown