Each Harmony Brigade officially meets just one weekend a year, (known as "the Rally"). Here is what you could expect when attending the Northern Pines Brigade Rally. The Brigade Rally begins with an optional, Friday morning series of performances at local area schools in front of enthusiastic students and music teachers. The group is transported on a comfy touring bus which returns in time to join others who are arriving for the official registration beginning at 3:00 PM.
After 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 5:00 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 submits a name, you receive a randomly assigned contest song. Quartets then have approximately thirty minutes to an hour to hone their skills on the assigned song before stepping onto the competition stage.
Approximately 20 quartets will compete on Friday evening, singing one assigned song before a panel of celebrity judges. The preliminary round runs from around 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm. Ten finalist quartets are announced and will move on to sing in the Saturday Afternoon Finals. Added to the mix is a ‘Wild Card’ quartet that is randomly drawn from those not qualifying to enter the finals. After the Friday night formal activities, there is more quartetting late into the night.
Following breakfast on Saturday morning the official Brigade business meeting is held. This is followed by a rehearsal for the Saturday night show where all of the songs are performed by the Brigade Chorus. Lunch is served between rehearsals to give everyone a break off the risers. At 3:30 PM the Quartet Finals competition is held, followed by more independent quartet singing, and then on to dinner. After dinner everyone prepares for the return to the venue for the Saturday evening show. Similar to most barbershop shows it features 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. Following the show, all are invited to a pizza party and quartetting continues into the early morning hours. There is no shortage of quartetting opportunities during this fun filled weekend!
Sunday morning there is another fantastic buffet breakfast, time for good-byes and wishing everyone a safe trip home.