Photos from the second day of the 2018 Pacific Northwest Sacred Harp Convention — Washington (a.k.a. the Seattle Convention):
Above: Corrie Van Duzer from Denver engaging the tenor front bench.
Above: Joel Chan from San Francisco in the hollow square.
Above: Back row of the basses.
Above: Looking across the tenor section towards the back of the room. Although it wasn’t “standing room only,” at the peak attendance seating was tight enough that eight or ten people chose to stand at the back of the room.
Bob Schinske leading 539 Supplication, from the 1991 Denson edition of The Sacred Harp, at the 2018 Pacific Northwest Convention — Washington (a.k.a. the Seattle Convention).
This is another one of those Sacred Harp songs that is rarely led, yet is worth singing. My first impression is positive: good melody, solid bass and treble parts, and the composer must have liked altos (or maybe was married to one) because the alto part is definitely above average. I’ll going to have to sing this one through a few times, and see if it grows on me.
Sean McPherson leading 213b Warning, from the 1991 Denson edition of The Sacred Harp, at the 2018 Pacific Northwest Convention — Washington (a.k.a. the Seattle Convention).
The story goes that 213b Warning was composed as a space filler for an earlier edition of The Sacred Harp. And it’s a tune that is not often led at all-day singings and conventions, ranking 441 overall since 1995. Yet it’s actually a lot of fun to sing (once you get past the bizarre way it’s notated), and I was glad that Sean chose to lead it at this year’s Seattle Convention.
Cornelia Stanton leading 473 Carmarthen at the 2018 Pacific Northwest Convention — Washington (a.k.a. the Seattle Convention):
I had been standing in the back of the room recording video for a quarter of an hour when Connie got up to lead Carmarthen. From where I stood, there was a noticeable difference in the quality of the sound as she began leading — brighter, more vibrant. I suspect this was because Connie made lots of eye contact, and smiled a lot. When I have sung in traditional choirs, the directors will often to tell the choristers to smile so that we will sound better, and of course the same thing should work for Sacred harp singers as well: catch the eyes of singers, smile at them, they will smile back, and that will brighten up their sound. In any case, I always enjoy it when Connie lead because of the joy she communicates to the class.
A few photos from the 2018 All California Sacred Harp Convention….
There were about 150 singers registered each day of the convention, and some people didn’t register so my guess is there were something like 200 people present over the course of each day. At any given time, there were likely to be 125 to 160 singers in the room actually singing. When the photo below was taken, I estimated 125 singers, i.e., we had not reached peak attendance:
And this is a close-up of what it’s like standing in the hollow square and leading a song:
Here’s Judy, a fourth-generation singer from Alabama, encouraging the basses to sing joyfully:
It’s calmer in the back benches, as this photo of the trebles attests — but no matter where you were in the room today, the singing was powerful:
The San Francisco singers have been meeting once a month at the ODC Dance Theatre at the corner of Shotwell and 17th. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to join them for the past few months. Big conventions are fun, and mid-sized all-day singings can’t be beat, but there is a special joy in singing with a smaller group of ten to twenty singers. You can hear every voice, and be inspired by individual singers; I find myself learning a lot from sitting across from Hugh, being bracketed by Mark on tenor and Leigh on alto, and hearing Joel beside me — and that’s mentioning only four of the powerful voices at this singing.
I’ve enjoyed singing with them so much, I wrote a tune for them. The singers gave it a good reading today, making it sound better than I thought it would.
I wrote a tune in honor of the 10th annual Alaska Sacred Harp Convention — a canon for 4 voices. The class gave it a good reading, and I think they found it fun to sing. However, the last measure just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, so when I got home I revised it. Here’s the revised version, which sounds better and is easier to sing:
The 10th annual Alaska Sacred Harp Convention was even more amazing than we had been led to believe.
The Alaska singers, under the leadership of Kari Lundgren, found the best place for us to watch the Alaska Day parade, they took us hiking in the hills, and they took us whale watching out on the bay. The Sitka singers even provided housing for the week — we filled the Sitka youth hostel, and it was great fun to sit up to all hours talking with Sacred Harp singers from up and down the Pacific coast.
There was singing every day in a variety of locales: we sang in a bar (the owners asked us to), in a restaurant, on a public radio show, at a brewfest on the celebration of Alaska Day, at a singing school led by Beverly Coates, in front of a waterfall while hiking. Here’s a photo of us getting ready to sing in front of the waterfall:
The convention itself was delightful. The food at dinner-on-the-grounds was fantastic — moussaka made with moose, herring roe salad, salmon jerky, beach asparagus salad, moose lasagna, local shrimp. The local singers were unbelievably friendly and welcoming. Carol and I particularly enjoyed the local Sitka singing on Sunday afternoon after the convention; I was particularly impressed by the several children who were already pretty good singers.