The Illinois District is honored to have four groups heading to the international competition this July. Each of the groups brings a wealth of barbershop experience to the stage. Keep reading to learn more!
After Hours: This group really needs no introduction. Our 2010 District Champs have been singing at an elite level since they first stepped onto the stage. An international qualifier for the 6th straight year, they’ve made the top 20 each year they’ve appeared, and in 2013 and 2015, they sang well enough to earn a spot in the quartet finals, finishing 8th both times.
Last year, original lead Ben Harding took a step back from the quartet to focus on his family, so 2016 will mark the first full calendar year with their “new” lead, Drew Ochoa. Last year, despite only having Drew in the fold for 4 months, After Hours proved their mettle and finished 8th. Expectations among the group and the society remain high. Will this be the year they crack the medals? Can they make the Instant Classic “jump” and go from 8th place to 1st place?
Union Station: Our 2015 District Champs (above) may be a newer quartet, but their membership does not lack for international competition experience! Lead Oliver Merrill previously sang with Men in Black, a multi-time international quartet finalist. Tenor Steve Davis & baritone John Davis (no relation) sang together most recently with Chronicle, the 2013 Illinois District Champs. And Jay Giallambardo’s won the gold with 1979 International Champions, Grandma’s Boys, and also directs a chorus you may have heard of (see below). What will their first international together yield? We’ll find out soon!
The New Tradition Chorus: Under the direction of Jay Giallambardo, The New Tradition has been a force for years, finishing in the medals every year from 1988-2001, when they won the whole darn contest. Their Ireland set from the 1997 contest (where they finished 2nd) was recently featured by the BHS for St. Patrick’s Day. In 2015, the chorus sent 47 men to the international contest stage, and placed 23rd, mere points away from cracking the top 20. Their most recent medalist finish was in 2008, and will look to get back again this year!
The Sound of Illinois: This chorus has been on the rise, and has made eight consecutive appearances on the international stage. Growing every year, the chorus maintains a blend of both young and returning members, seeking to entertain audiences with a show package that breaks the “normal” barbershop chorus routine. In their current run, Bloomington has never finished higher than 12th. Can they crack the 10 in Nashville? Will they climb even higher & snag a medal?
Check back again soon to find out more about these competitors and their 2016 finishes!