Friday, October 15, 2010

Reminicences ... An Oral History of the MVE - Walt Z

As part of our 20th anniversary celebration in 2009, the chapter newsletter editor asked several of the founding members to share some comments with the rest of the chorus. These are their stories.

I am a charter member of the MVE. I had been singing with the Menomonee Falls chapter, and realized one day that because of business travel requirements, I would miss both the spring contest and the spring show.

Some of the Falls members had been talking about this “new” chorus that was starting up at a church in Caldwell, WI. It was composed of quartet guys who wanted to compete at higher levels than any of thelocal choruses were willing to commit to (or were capable of). I walked into the rehearsal in Caldwell that first night and heard the best, cleanest barbershop sound I had ever heard. I have been hooked on the MVE ever since.

I have held a variety of MVE chapter officer positions over the years, including chapter secretary and Music VP. I have also been active in a number of chapter quartets over the years, the most popular being The Chord Sharks. I have sung with Last Minute Decision, Vocalion, Breaking News, Sonix, and Easy Days over the years - and I’m probably forgetting a couple others.

The MVE is special in many ways. First, I think the camaraderie of the guys is second to none anywhere in the society. We have all grown older in the years that followed the formation of the chorus, and I don’t think any of us party as well as we used to - but the party attitude and having fun doing what we do has always been, and continues to be, a big part of the MVE culture.

Second, our goal is to change lives by entertaining people, and we are one of few choruses who can really do that well. I get great comments after every show from people who have never seen us, who are just blown away by what we do. They don’t understand why we aren’t better known. We ARE solving that problem, and changing lives in the process.

Our first medal in Portland in 2002 was my favorite memory I think, after we did the Waiter Set. When they announced the MVE as the 5th place Bronze Medalist, our section just went nuts and held up the next announcement for a few minutes. It was a great moment. We had a huge party in the hotel afterwards and everyone was just immersed in the celebration of our success.

My second favorite moment was Anaheim in 1999. We did the first version of our New Orleans Set that year. It was our first time at International and we were all pumped. There were three standing ovations during the chorus contest that day: The Masters of Harmony, who won the contest; the second place chorus, Northbrook, IL (second by only 2 points out of 3000 - ask Dennis S. about this); and the 9th place Greendale Midwest Vocal Express. Dick Van Dyke was a special guest of the Society that year and was one of the first to stand for us.

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