Lawrence barbershop quartet returns to international competition

Devin Burke

Most Lawrentians are probably unaware that Lawrence University was a barbershop quartet stronghold. Consider yourself informed. During the past five years, Lawrence has sent five collegiate barbershop quartets to compete at the international level, one of those a first-place winner. This year’s quartet continues the tradition.The barbershop quartet known as “Reflection” will compete during the first weekend in July at the international level for collegiate barbershop quartets. They won this honor at the district competition last weekend by receiving the highest score in their division and $1,000. The quartet’s members—Dane Tice on tenor, Nathan Heffel on baritone, James Estes on lead, and Jonathan Silvia on bass—will travel to Nashville, Tenn. to compete as a quartet and as members of a barbershop chorus.

The competition is sponsored by SPEBSQSA, otherwise known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. Quartets are ranked on a point scale and graded in the three categories of singing, music (repertoire choice), and presentation. The competitors group into collegiate and amateur divisions, and competition is stiff in both cases. Winners of the amateur competition “are professional and then some,” says Silvia.

Reflection hopes to continue in the steps of their predecessor, “Freefall,” the quartet that won it all five years ago. Following their win, they became the featured act at virtually every alumni dinner, special event, and choir concert. “Freefall” included in its ranks Keith Harris, who now sings opera professionally, and Steve Rodgers, who is at Yale working on a doctorate in music theory.

This year will be the third trip for “Reflection” to the international stage. Two years ago, they placed 22nd, and last year they placed 11th. Now, their sights are set on the top 5. All four members are juniors who are continuing the tradition of excellence in the nostalgic art of barbershop quartet singing.