To the newest members of Sound of the Rockies, joining the chorus on the risers at the International Chorus Competition in July, means they’ve made it.
They’ve survived the rigorous, months-long audition process, they’ve devoted hours upon hours to rehearsals, they’ve proven themselves to the director, chorus and Sound of the Rockies fans and now, they are standing in front of a panel of a dozen judges and an international audience of harmony aficionados to help Sound of the Rockies keep its standing as one of the top barbershop choruses in the world.
“It’s kind of like graduating college,” said Derrick Harmon, who completed auditions just weeks before the Barbershop Harmony Society International Convention in Salt Lake City. To Derrick, joining Sound of the Rockies has been a dream come true. “I’ve always been involved in music and to perform with one of the best choruses in the world, in a huge venue, in front of probably a thousand people, feels incredible.”
To get there it takes talent, hard work, a commitment to performance excellence and support from veteran chorus members who offer advice and help along the way. So, it’s little wonder that each year, the cohort of international contest first-timers is celebrated by the chorus at the end of the convention.
This year, however, the celebration was bittersweet as one of the 13 members of SOR’s International Class of 2019 couldn’t be there. Jason Modlich, 34, a talented singer, actor and broadcaster, was about three months into the Sound of the Rockies audition process when he died unexpectedly from pneumonia and sepsis on June 8.
“Jason’s passing was a huge shock,” Derrick said. Although Derrick did not have the opportunity to get to know Jason well, everyone in the group shared the bond of working through the qualifying process. “The one thing that I remember most about Jason was how dedicated he was to becoming part of Sound of the Rockies,” he said. “He always wanted to get it right. He was all-in from the start.”
To honor Jason, the SOR International Class of 2019 named itself Modlich’s 13, or M13.
In astronomy, M13, which is sometimes called the Hercules Globular Cluster, is one of the brightest star clusters in the Northern sky. It’s full of remarkable individual stars. But when those stars come together, they create something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
In a statement prepared for the class celebration, the group explained the name: “We are convinced that this description reflects the effect that barbershop and harmony-making had in Jason’s life,” the statement said. “In his honor, we of M13 are humbled and blessed to now call ourselves members of the brotherhood that is greater than the sum of its parts: Sound of the Rockies.”
Sound of the Rockies is hosting its biannual Guest Night on August 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Christ Church Denver. Join us on the risers at Guest Night and find out what we’re all about. For more information visit soundoftherockies.com/joinus/
Feature photo: M13 (L to R) – Jeff Wallingford, Rocke Newell, Steve Anderson, Mitch Jacobson, Paulo Iza, Nathan Rapp, Russ Johnson, Robbie Robertson, Derrick Harmon, Aaron Knox, Roger Boss. (Not pictured: Grant Hamilton)