The Marcsmen Rank 11th in 2019
The Marcsmen Earn Their All-Time Highest Score in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City, UT (July 5, 2019) – Coming off a 13th place appearance at the 2018 Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) International Chorus Contest in Orlando, Florida, the Marcsmen improved upon that performance in Salt Lake City, Utah this summer. Out of 27 competing choruses, including groups from the United States, Canada, and Sweden, the Marcsmen finished with an 11th place ranking – their highest ever. In their fifth international competition appearance, the San Antonio-based chorus also bested their overall score from 2018, improving to 85.2% - a chorus record.
“We had quite a few more men on the International stage than last year, which helped tremendously,” said Brent Dunavant, Director of the Marcsmen. “We also brought in a wonderful coach, Mark Hale, who really helped us find more consistency in our sound and musicality. Those factors along with many other facets and important individuals helped us reach a new level this year.”
With almost 700 registered choruses in North America alone, the Marcsmen were one of two choruses from the Southwestern District (SWD) of the Barbershop Harmony Society to compete in Salt Lake. The Marcsmen earned their spot in the international finals by virtue of their 2018 Southwestern District championship back in October. The other chorus from the SWD was Space City Sound (Houston, TX) who placed 16th.
On what it will take to crack the top 10 at international, “the most important thing is to work on consistency,” said Dunavant. “At this level, even a slight dip in performance energy or technique is enough to negatively affect the scores given by a very discerning panel of judges. Greater consistency will come through paying attention to details, working hard in rehearsal, and becoming increasingly more comfortable with our performance.”
The musical set that the Marcsmen performed on stage featured a traditional barbershop up-tune “’Deed I Do” followed by the ballad “You Don’t Know Me”. In an effort to broaden the Society’s outreach initiative dubbed Everyone In Harmony[i], the chorus sang “You Don’t Know Me” while using American Sign Language (ASL) gestures to communicate the emotion of the song to the deaf community.
The idea to incorporate ASL into the Marcsmen performance was primarily the brainchild of Visual Team Leader, Matthew Cassi, spearheaded after some discussions with other chorus members. In collaboration with Robert Cardoza, a local Interpreter for the Deaf, the visual interpretation for “You Don’t Know Me” was created. One of the more challenging parts of performing with ASL was “finding the right balance between storytelling and singing,” said Cassi. “While the Marcsmen's leadership is allowing me to take theatrical risks through storytelling, I didn’t want it to ever overshadow the fact that we are a chorus of singers.” “The knowledge and excitement of trying something that had never been done on the contest stage helped lay the groundwork for our success,” said Dunavant referring to the ASL. And there are no signs of slowing creativity in the future for the Marcsmen. “We’re going to continue to take risks that challenge our members to sing at the highest level while creating new stories through a cappella four-part harmony music,” said Cassi.
The Marcsmen next turn their eyes toward the Southwestern District competition in October where they hope to retain their title as district champions for the second straight year, followed by their annual Christmas show on December 14th. For more information, please follow the Marcsmen on their social media channels.
[i] “Everyone In Harmony.” Everyone In Harmony | Barbershop Harmony Society, www.barbershop.org/about/everyone.