Youth in Harmony

Every year, around the beginning of February, Ross’ barbershop chorus, the West Central Connection, hosts a Youth in Harmony event. It’s where boys from area schools learn about barbershop singing. It’s a daylong event where the boys learn a couple or three songs, work with a clinician, experience camaraderie with fellow choir students and then perform in a concert that night. It usually takes place at the high school in Willmar. I’ve been to a couple of these events with Ross and they are fun and hopefully a good experience for the students.

As I drove to Wood Lake to meet up with Ross, I noted that there wasn’t a whole lot of snow on the ground. While it’s been cold here and there throughout the winter, there hasn’t been much snowfall. Little did I know…

We got on the road and headed toward Willmar. As we were on the stretch of Minnesota Highway 23 on the way to Maynard, it started to snow, and snow some more. Add in a little wind, and it makes things fun. People started driving a little slower. Ross got to the exit to Willmar he wanted to take. He must’ve taken a little too fast for conditions as his car started to slide. Fortunately he stayed on the road and we slowly made our way to the high school.

When we arrived at the high school, there were a couple of school buses already in the parking lot. Ross said there must be something else going on at the high school. And sure enough, there was. The concessions stand was in full swing; the smell of popcorn was in the air. The other activity was a ninth-grade boys basketball tournament, featuring teams that included Willmar, Hutchinson, BBE and Marshall, so I saw a few familiar faces.

So before noon, boys from nine different schools were arriving and checking in for the Youth in Harmony festival. I wanted to help out a little bit as well, I needed something to do. So I would mark off names as the kids got their T-shirts. But after noon hit and the workshops were starting, I was left with nothing to do. I did have an e-book to read. At the time, Ross didn’t really have anything to do either, so we went in search of lunch. We wanted to go to a place Marshall doesn’t have. We ended up at KFC. It had been a few years. The snow was still falling, and as we were eating ($5 lunch!) we watched snow plows go by. The roads improved somewhat.

Since I didn’t want to listen to another rendition of “Come and Go With Me,” I went to see Marshall play its last game of the day; it was playing for consolation champion (if I was reading the brackets right). The game was a little delayed as the teams in the court in the previous game went into quadruple overtime. So I watched the game, chatted with a person I knew and killed some time. Dinner wasn’t until 5 p.m. — Pizza Ranch pizza. Then I had to kill some more time until the concert at 7 p.m. That involved looking at Facebook and catching some glances at the Redwood Valley/Willmar JV basketball game.

The boys did a good job with their songs under the direction of Pete Benson. Benson used to be the director of the Great Northern Union Chorus, which has done well in international competition. Then quartets performed, including one of Willmar High School boys, Sound Image (Willmar-based quartet) and Kordal Kombat, which also has done well in competitions and fun to watch. Then West Central Connection took the stage, did a few numbers and the finale included all singers on stage. It’s always a treat to listen to all those voices in harmony, I’m glad I went this time around.