Greetings, members of the Illinois District!
It’s hard to believe another year has flown by – and I am already half-way through my term as your president!
2015 proved to be an exciting year for our district. To kick things off, thanks to the efforts of Bill Miller, our district held a CSLT Summit in the northern part of the state which was well attended and plans are being finalized for another summit on January 16 of this year. Terry Ludwig and Tim Pashon did a fabulous job hosting another successful IDAH weekend in February, with a stellar coaching staff and a concert that featured memorable performances by top quartets, including international champs – Vocal Spectrum. My hat is off to the Midwest Harmony Alliance chorus, who shows us how much fun it can be when multiple chapters come together in song and fellowship. While taking a hiatus from a spring convention in 2015, the district held an exciting fall convention in Bloomington, crowned new quartet and chorus champions, and welcomed back such notables as Tom Felgen of The Four Renegades, QCA “Music Man” recipient Jim Moses, and the Bloomington High School Barbershopper Reunion Chorus under the direction of alumnus and Society Treasurer Dwayne Cooper. This fall, our district once again hosted four YIH festivals and brought barbershop music to over 1000 high school students across the state. And thanks to the efforts of Mike Savard and our chapter mentors – Bob Squires, Greg Martin, Brett Mulford, and Mike Dohogne, the gap between district governance and the membership is shrinking and communication across the district is increasing.
And speaking of increasing communication – a big pat on the back goes to our district Marketing and Public Relations Vice-President Kevin McClelland who, along with printer Ken Ota from Bloomington, edited and produced the first hard copy of “Attacks and Releases” in over a decade! Another “Attacks and Releases” is planned for mid-March that will re-cap our fall and winter events and advertise the district’s coming attractions.
With as many good things that happened in 2015 – you may be asking yourself, “Can it get any better?” The answer is YES! The district has a youth chorus made up of Mt. Zion High School students that has been preparing for competition that will take place in a few weeks at the Midwinter Convention in Reno, Nevada. This will be the first time the district has been represented in the International Youth Chorus Competition. Thanks to several barbershoppers and the QCA, donations have been coming in, although more is still needed. If you are interested in supporting the group, visit their “gofundme” page at www.gofundme.com/egdkj4jw If you miss them in Reno, don’t worry – you will be able to see the boys perform at our annual spring convention.
Which brings me to my next point…I am super excited for our new “Spring Harmony Jamboree” which will be held in East Peoria on April 15-16, 2016. Combining the best parts of IDAH with classes and coaching, the annual H.S. Quartet contest, a youth chorus, and a Harmony Platoon, this will be a weekend you won’t want to miss. BHS International Competitors Boardwalk and SAI Queens The Four Bettys will be performing as part of our Saturday Night Spectacular, to be held at the Five Points Theatre in Washington, IL. The best part is registration will be FREE to attendees! A BIG thank you goes to IDEA (The Illinois District Endowment Assurance) for underwriting the cost of this event. Plans are being finalized in the next few weeks, and information will be available by the beginning of February on the district website and through the chapter mentors.
On a personal note, I have enjoyed meeting with so many of you and your chapters, either through the officer installations I have performed or just by sitting in on your rehearsals. I’ve made it to just over half of the chapters so far (central and southern mostly). I look forward to visiting my northern friends in 2016. As I said in my New Year’s letter a year ago, the ties that bind us as members of this fraternal organization are stronger than any disagreements we may have, and I want you all to know that you are welcome to contact me at any time to share your concerns. I may not have all the answers, but I guarantee that I will listen.
I look forward to serving as your president in 2016 and I wish the best for you and your families in this new year.
Yours in song,