Each Harmony Brigade officially meets just one weekend a year, (known as "the Rally"). Here is some basic information about the weekend.
The Brigade Rally begins on Friday afternoon. For those arriving before Friday afternoon, the organizers often arrange informal performance opportunities during the day to pitch the show Saturday night.
The actual Brigade activities begin Friday around 3:30 pm. Just after hotel registration, you will receive a name badge that lists your name, vocal part, and each song with the key signature. From then until dinner you are on your own to quartet in as many different quartet combinations as possible.
Dinner is served around 6:00 pm and is an excellent time for enjoying fellowship with old friends and for meeting new friends. Immediately after dinner, a brief meeting is held in which each attendee is assigned to a quartet by random selection. This is when you will find out which three singers will complete your competition quartet. After your foursome selects a name, another random draw assigns your quartet’s contest song. Quartets then have approximately thirty minutes to an hour to hone their skills on the assigned song.
Approximately 25 quartets will compete on Friday evening, singing one assigned song for a panel of judges. The preliminary round runs from around 9:00 pm to 11:30 pm. The ten finalist quartets are announced and will move on to sing in the Saturday Evening Finals. After the Friday night formal activities, there is more quarteting late into the night.
Following breakfast on Saturday morning the official Brigade business meeting is held. Then, after lunch, the Brigade reports to the venue for the Saturday evening show. Each song is rehearsed by the assembled singers to
prepare for the show which is open to the public.
Dinner is served at 5:00 pm after which everyone returns to the venue for the Saturday evening show. The show is similar to most barbershop shows, combining the Brigade chorus, registered quartets that may be in attendance, and other performers whom the organizers may invite. While the chorus is not the focus of the Brigade, the thrill of this large, wonderfully prepared gathering is an experience that many men don’t otherwise attain. The show provides revenue to offset some of the expense of the Brigade weekend. After the show, you’ll head back to the hotel for the quartet finals. Finalists from Friday evening sing another randomly selected song, determined only seconds before the pitch is blown. The general public isn’t invited to the finals; however, these activities are opened to friends and family of Brigaders at no charge. The top three quartets are announced and awards are presented. Things usually wrap up with a pizza party (funded by contributions) and quarteting continues into the early morning hours.
Sunday morning is time for good-byes and wishing everyone a safe trip home.
"I had an excellent time because I got to sing forever!"
"Nice to see old (and new) faces and sing with a lot of different guys.""It's an unforgettable weekend with good music, great friends, and lifelong memories!"
"I SO enjoy quartetting with talented singers, and there was ample opportunity to do that over 36 hours. I'm hooked!"
"It was wonderful to have guys as rock solid as I had become on the songs and ready to really perform them (not just 'work on them')"
"More fun than I would ever have ever expected."
"It is always good to sing with guys who know their words and notes. The big chorus experience is also a thrill."
"I enjoyed learning the twelve songs, singing with pick-up quartets during the weekend, and really enjoyed being in a strolling quartet at the Applefest to advertise the show."
"[In] addition to being fine singing, it was graced with humor and irreverence."