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The Sound Of The Rockies Biography
The Sound of the Rockies (SOR) is an a cappella men's chorus based in greater Denver, Colorado. They are currently the 4th place International Bronze Medalist Chorus for the Barbershop Harmony Society. In 2007, they successfully co-hosted the International Convention in Denver, Colorado with the Denver Mountainaires. The chorus comprises between 110-120 voices currently.
In the 1990s, there were two major chapters in the Denver area, the older Mile High Chorus and the Denver Tech chapter, chartered in the 1980s. In 1999, the two chapters began to discuss the idea of merging, which is very rarely successful for large choruses. It was put to a vote by the members of each chapter, and a merger was approved on January 1, 2000. The chorus drafted a young, untried director for their initial leadership in Darin Drown, who had recently moved to Denver from Nebraska.
The chorus put on a successful charter show in the spring of 2000 that consisted of Broadway tunes, and competed in their first Rocky Mountain District contest in the fall of 2000 in Rapid City, South Dakota, placing second and missing a wild card invitation to International by a mere 5 points.
In the fall of 2001 the SOR competed in their second District contest, again placing second, but this time earning a wildcard to compete at the International Chorus Finals in Portland, Oregon. They traveled to their first International in July 2002 and shocked the barbershop world by placing 8th. They won their first Rocky Mountain District championship in the fall of 2002 and once again traveled to International in July 2003, placing 7th in the Montreal contest. The year 2004 brought them to Louisville, Kentucky where they continued their climb, placing 6th and missing a medal by only a few points. In Salt Lake City, Utah in 2005 they placed 7th with a comedic package. They again placed 6th at the 2006 Chorus contest in Indianapolis, Indiana. The chorus was the host for the 2007 International contests and convention, held in Denver, Colorado. On July 6, 2007, The Sound of the Rockies placed 3rd at the International contest, finally giving them a long sought-after medal. At the 2008 International contest, held in Nashville, TN, the chorus maintained top 5 standing, placing 4th in what is commonly held to be the most competitive barbershop chorus contest in history.
The chorus went on to win the fall 2008 Rocky Mountain District contest, and went on to compete in their 9th International contest on July 3, 2009 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. They again placed 4th, earning their third consecutive medal with the highest score the chorus had achieved to date, averaging a 91.5%.
After winning an 8th consecutive district championship in Cheyenne, Wyoming in October 2009, the chorus qualified for the 2010 International chorus contest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In July 2010, they competed in the contest and maintained their 4th-place ranking, with a record-high score of 92.3%.
In early 2006, the chapter began discussing the idea of creating a young men's chorus within the ranks. This idea took off when the Barbershop Harmony Society introduced a new International Youth Chorus Festival, to be held at the 2008 Midwinter Convention. In August 2008, the group was assembled, and the name 52Eighty was agreed upon. SOR assistant directors Chris Vaughn and Matt Swann were appointed to co-direct the young group. They attended the second annual Youth Chorus Festival in January 2009 in Pasadena, CA and came away with the plateau AA championship and second place overall, averaging a 76.1%. In January 2010, they attended the 3rd annual contest in Tampa, FL and walked away as Grand Champions, with a record-breaking 83.5% average score. Sebsequent years have seen a continuation of 52Eighty with a greater focus on recruitment of younger (high school) membership.