Recent Happenings – BQPA/Pioneers


by Tom Noble, President



Having ascended, assisted by considerable prodding, to the administrative pinnacle of the BQPA/Pioneers, the Presidency, I thought I should pen a few words about recent times in our organization.


I’ve certainly stepped into very big shoes, and I don’t really believe I can come close to the accomplishments of our Immediate Past President, Mr. Jack Martin. Jack, with the enthusiastic assistance of a large cast of characters, most of whom he has identified in his writings, was able, during his five years at the top, to forge an administrative group that efficiently and unobtrusively meets the requirements of this quartet singing organization.


Most of what the BQPA/Pioneers administration needs to be concerned about is the arrangements for our semi-annual Festivals. The Board of Directors has recognized that this requirement is not only paramount, but is not something to allocate to a committee (committees tending to be entities with six or more legs and no brain.) The Festival Organizer needs to be one person, who has experience and initiative enough to pull together the basic requirements for our get-togethers. We need a place to sing, and some rooms where we can sleep when we can’t sing no more. Oh, and maybe someplace to eat and obtain a beverage or two.

As can be seen from our list of officers, elsewhere on this website, our Festival Chairs are full members of the BQPA/Pioneers Board. We’ve had the great good fortune of having competent folks holding these positions for the past few years, particularly Mr. Gerry Carroll (our Chicago Festivals) and Mr. Rex Touslee (our Phoenix Festivals.) They’ve been assisted by folks just as proficient, setting up tee-times for barbershopping golfers (golfing barbershoppers?), arranging for the judges for our pickup quartet contests, and searching out talent for our Saturday evening quartet parades.


Admittedly, we’ve had to deal with hotels which – after agreeing to provide appropriate performance accommodations – put our stage outside in a tent on the windiest night of the year, or carried out renovations which pre-empted our registration area and forced our participants to sign-in outside under a canopy. But such are not the fault of the arrangers but of the hotel managements, and we won’t go back there without guarantees of better treatment.


Even so, these are passing problems, and – as mentioned before – all we really need when we’re not on stage is a place to sing. And the places where we’ve gathered have had that. Most often, we have a meeting room big enough to accommodate four or five quartets, even if it does get pretty loud. And there are always enough hallways, rooms we can hijack, porcelain rooms, and the like, to satisfy our cravings for quartet singing.


And that’s what it’s all about, after all, neh? I have to say that I’ve experienced the best hours of quartet singing at BQPA/Pioneers Festivals since my last quartet dissolved a few years ago. Maybe better. Singing for hours at a time, with men and women who know the old songs, know the chords that make them live (whether in established arrangements or not), who worship chords and pound them out for hours on end. I’ve sung with International quartet and chorus champs at our Festivals; with District champs; with just plain Joe-barbershoppers. I’ve learned new music in an impromptu quartet that assembles from both coasts twice a year, and sung again with the Lead of my 1964 Illinois District Champ quartet. Never know who we’ll see or sing with at these gatherings: it’s mind-blowing!


Enough! Enough to say, “Come join us.” We’re all chord-worshippers who want to sing, in quartets, and not just listen. Yeah, we’ll sit still for a just-for-fun pick-up quartet contest, ‘cause every now and then, there’s a really good foursome picked out of those bags. And we like to sit and listen to a few good or even pretty good local quartets. But as soon as the parade has passed by, we’re back up and singing, ourselves. C’mon along…