Audience reviews of 2010 New York Harmony Sweepstakes

The Miller Theater on the beautiful campus of Columbia University provided the ideal setting for the New York Regional competition of the Harmony Sweepstakes A Capella Festival on Saturday evening, March 20, 2010.  This event, held only a week into the start of daylight savings time on the East Coast, was accompanied by unseasonably mild 70-degree weather that served as the event’s appropriate backdrop.  It also helped to maximize audience turnout and enthusiasm with crowd turnout estimated at near-full capacity for the theater.  And the audience was not disappointed as a contingent of nine professional a capella groups performed during this event that spanned over three hours into the evening.

Competition during previous years traditionally included an eclectic mix of diverse vocal styles and musical genres and 2010 proved to be no exception.  In fact, it seemed only fitting that New York City, the capital of the world and a place that has historically welcomed and accepted outsiders, should be the location for the selection of b vocal, an a cappella vocal group from Spain, as the winner of the 2010 Regional competition.  It was readily apparent to all in attendance that these vocal troubadors, who have performed together for the last 12 years, are a well-polished and professional musical unit.  In addition to their tight vocal harmonies, their musical style lived up to their program billing as original and innovative. 

As a result of their victory, the group now moves on to the national finals to be held shortly in San Francisco.  Also noted from this year’s competition was that fact six of the nine groups performing were composed of both male and female personnel, an interesting trend that will hopefully continue in future years.  In addition to providing greater vocal variance in the group harmonies, in some cases the blending of female voices allowed for the introduction of a certain edginess that could never be obtained from an all-male ensemble.  Bravo to the ladies!

For those of you who have never attended this annually-held event, kindly take note that it is definitely worth the “trip to town.”  Speaking as baby-boomers with no formal connection to the people behind the event or the competing groups but only as a couple who are open to the enjoyment of well-performed harmony music of diverse styles, the production and quality of the talent is well-worth the relatively nominal cost of admission ($22- very cheap!).

The entertainment typically also includes electrifying musical performances by a guest co-host group (this year by Cartoon Johnny, 2009 New York Regional champs), the envelope-pushing humor of co-host Jeff LaGreca, and audience voting participation (think low-budget, American Idol).  We look forward to attending this event every year as it has become a way of bidding adieu to the cold weather months and welcoming the life rebirth that accompanies nicer weather.  The production is always first-rate and the talent always top-notch!  Consider yourself informed about one of the best-kept entertainment secrets in New York City- see you there in 2011?

Chris and Toni Russello, Red Bank, NJ    

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