RIT Students Compete in International Barbershop Quartet Competition, July 8
June 28, 2006
by Susan Gawlowicz
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What started out as a whim has landed four Rochester Institute of Technology students center stage at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s annual international convention at the Conseco Field House in Indianapolis in July.
RIT’s quartet, Four’s Complement, will compete against 20 other groups from the United States, Canada and New Zealand during the MBNA America College Barbershop Quartet Contest, at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 8. Approximately 9,000 barbershop singers from around the world will attend the six-day convention, which starts July 2.
Making up Four’s Complement is Jamie Bedford, a baritone and an information technology major, Michael Ho, a tenor and a software engineer, John Santino, who sings lead with the quartet—“Which is lower than tenor, and almost always has the melody,” Bedford says—and studies computer science; and Bryce Cooney, a bass singer and a computational mathematics major. The four also sing with RIT Singers, a large choral ensemble, and RIT’s Surround Sound, an a cappella group (www.ritsurroundsound.org).
“We’ve been practicing together as a quartet on and off for about a year and a half now,” Bedford says. “We got together on a whim last year a little more than a month before the preliminary contest and just learned a couple songs to compete with, and we did pretty well. This year we had a bit more time to practice and were able to advance.”
Performing 10th in the lineup at Indianapolis, the quartet will sing “Old St. Louis” and “Shine.”
“Old St. Louis” helped Four’s Complement win the Seneca Land Division’s College Barbershop Quartet Contest earlier this year, along with “My Wild Irish Rose.” “Shine” is a new song for the group to perform.
“In a quartet, each member really has the power to improve the sound and to make chords ‘ring,’ which is one of the goals for barbershop singing and, in my opinion, one of the best feelings you can experience,” Bedford says. “It’s the feeling of having four people come together to create a sound that feels like far more than that.”
Each collegiate quartet will receive $1,500 to help offset travel expenses. According to Bedford, the top-placing quartets are often invited to sing at different Barbershop Harmony Society Chapters around the country and the world.
Four’s Complement received financial assistance and coaching from the Rochester chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, known as the Chorus of the Genesee, the Batavia chapter, called The Vocal Agenda, and RIT’s music program in the College of Liberal Arts.