A Perfect Prelims Performance

As if running the Red Rosettes AND the Red Rose chorus AND working tirelessly as a nurse wasn’t enough for our awesome MD, Emma McMannus, she’s also chosen this year to compete in the quartet competition at this year’s European Barbershop Convention in Bournemouth. Joining her is our brilliant Baritone, Laura Phillips, who was alongside Emma and their late sister Katy when they won a bronze medal the last time they competed. Bringing the bass, is Hannah Barber who graciously lent us her husband for a number of brilliant coaching sessions over the Spring, and has the kind of voice that just makes you tingle. Singing lead is barbershop royalty Sally McLean, who has led her chorus, The White Rosettes, to eight national gold medals and two European gold medals among may other notable achievements. Together, they make up Soundhouse, and although we’re pretty biased here at the Red Rosettes, they are brilliant.

In order to make it to the semi-finals and finals on Convention stage, each quartet must compete in ‘prelims,’ the first round of competition where only the top sixteen quartets go through. A few car’s worth of us took the trip to Nottingham to support our girls, and as soon as they hit their first note, we were entranced – along with the rest of the audience. Singing a beautiful ballad and a glorious version of Doris Day’s ‘Chocolate Sundae on a Saturday Night’ left the audience in rapturous applause and expectations were understandably high.

When the contest drew to a close, we eagerly awaited confirmation that they had made it through. After hearing the names of fifteen quartets being called, we could hear the murmurs throughout the audience: ‘What about Soundhouse… Where are Soundhouse…. Are they disqualified? What on earth!’ We prepared for the worst, only to have the tension released by their name finally being called. Fantastic! Being drawn last also meant they would be the final singers in the semi-final on Thursday 26th October. If they are able to match or better their huge prelims score of 77.6%, they will surely put themselves in a great position to get a medal. But with the standard of singing throughout the country so high, only practice, persistence and striving for perfection will do. They’ve got the attitude and determination to do it – and the full support of every Red Rosette!