35th Annual



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The Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival is the premier American showcase for vocal harmony music. The annual national competition draws from hundreds of vocal groups from around the country with regional competitions in eight cities. The winning group from each festival is flown to perform in front of celebrity judges and a sold out house of enthusiastic a cappella fans at the National Finals.

2019 Pacific Northwest Champions

The Baudboys

Back around 1990, a couple of the founding members of the coed Microtones decided that they wanted to form a men's a cappella group at Microsoft so that they could sing the charts from their college groups. The original quartet consisted John Rae-Grant, bass and musical director, Bill Pope, baritone, Bob Gunderson, 2nd tenor, and David Olsen, 1st tenor. True to their profession, the group's chosen name, The Baudboys, referred to the method by which modem speeds were rated. The group performed only a few times in its first years of existence, doing lunch time gigs on the Microsoft campus.

As members left Microsoft over the years, they would also leave the Baudboys, prompting natural turnover in the membership. During the 1990's, the group expanded it's membership, aiming to have two full quartets within the group. Since that time, the group has remained at 7-9 members, but the expanded membership has allowed the group to sing more complex arrangements than the 4-part charts that the founders envisioned.

2019 Results
1st
The Baudboys
2nd
Restless Vocal Band
3rd
Emerald City Voices
Audience Favorite
The Baudboys


2019 Participating Groups

The Supertonics
An ensemble of Seattle Men's Chorus and Seattle Women's Chorus It's a brand new small group under the Seattle Choruses' banner! This mixed ensemble comprises members from both Seattle Women's Chorus and Seattle Men's Chorus, with a focus on singing tight-harmony a cappella repertoire. The Supertonics are directed by Nikki Blackmer, who brings 15 years of experience singing, directing, and teaching a cappella music.

Members: Aaron Carasco, Alex Kloehn, Amanda Vilbrandt, Cara Anderson - Ahrens, Chelsea Quinn, David Nilsson, Jennifer Beth, Joel Kimmel - Staebler, Nich Anderson, Nick Wishaar, Nikki Blackmer, Rohan Chandra
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Up to Something
These four have been Up to Something since July of 2015. They have a combined total of over 60 years experience as members of Sweet Adelines Intl and are all members of the Northwest Harmony Chorus. It wasn't long before they agreed that comedy was the way to go for them. They are not your "typical" quartet and have been known to do parodies and things just a little out of the ordinary. The received the the Audience Choice Award for most entertaining quartet at the 2017 and 2018 North by Northwest Region 13 competition. They placed 8th in the 2018 All Northwest Barbershop Contest. Their name fits them well. Anyone that knows them will agree, always expect the unexpected because they are always Up to Something!

Members: Deb Loundagin, Ruth Peterson, Claudia Jamison, B. Gail Hillyer
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Emerald City Voices
Emerald City Voices is a Seattle-based a cappella ensemble whose members have been singing together since 2005. Originally started as a group of friends who met in a community choir, they now sing extensively during the holidays, at Mariners games, and around the Seattle area, as well as host multiple concerts benefiting local charities. The members of ECV are committed to high-quality a cappella music, entertaining performances, and having fun together!

Members: Sarah Robinson, Matt Smith, Andy Robinson, Jared Blatterman, Pam Reich, Betsy Hall, Meredith Harrigan, Katie Watson, Molly Tomlinson, Jason Fu, Andrew Williams, Patrick Daly
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Restless Vocal Band
Restless Vocal Band is a vocal powerhouse from Seattle, WA. Voted as the #2 best band in Seattle for 3 years in a row and the 2016 Pacific North West Harmony Sweepstakes Champions, there is never a dull moment when you're part of Restless. Comprised of six people who genuinely love to perform together, Restless creates a high energy, fun and exciting stage show complete with music spanning almost 10 decades of music.

Members: Sean Braxton, Jordyn Day, Erik Eliason, Angelo Allard, Sam Waterhouse, KM Gospel
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KlapaDoowopella
KlapaDooWopella specializes in traditional Croatian "Klapa" singing. Klapa singers are a cappella minstrels that hang out on boat docks and street corners along the Adriatic coast of Croatia. The passionate harmonic blend of traditional Klapa songs evokes uncaught fish, raging seas, and lost love. Despite forays into other genres, the quartet always returns to its first love, the moan of the sea that is the primal chord of the Klapa sInger.

Members: Bozo Lovatz, James Horvatz, William Weiskov, Justin Ferris , Jeff Carter
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Bodacious Ladyhood
Bodacious Ladyhood is a Seattle-based trio of women who have been singing together since 2002. Carolyn, Loretta and Jenny are excited to be back for their fourth time at Sweeps, having placed in the top three in their prior three appearances! They have opened for The Baudboys and have performed at Chateau Ste. Michelle (and on live, national radio) as guests on "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." They have been called "distinctive", "vibrant-voiced", and "show-stopping." Bodacious Ladyhood is three parts harmony, one part comedy and a whole lot of fun.

Members: Carolyn Hastings, Jenny Buehler, Loretta Deranleau Howard
More Details

The Baudboys
Back around 1990, a couple of the founding members of the coed Microtones decided that they wanted to form a men's a cappella group at Microsoft so that they could sing the charts from their college groups. The original quartet consisted John Rae-Grant, bass and musical director, Bill Pope, baritone, Bob Gunderson, 2nd tenor, and David Olsen, 1st tenor. True to their profession, the group's chosen name, The Baudboys, referred to the method by which modem speeds were rated. The group performed only a few times in its first years of existence, doing lunch time gigs on the Microsoft campus.

As members left Microsoft over the years, they would also leave the Baudboys, prompting natural turnover in the membership. During the 1990's, the group expanded it's membership, aiming to have two full quartets within the group. Since that time, the group has remained at 7-9 members, but the expanded membership has allowed the group to sing more complex arrangements than the 4-part charts that the founders envisioned.

Members: Jonathan Schwartz, Mike Thomsen, Owen Braun, Graham Sheldon, Martin Puryear, Elliot Lewis, Mark Adolph, Paul Eng
More Details

Your Emcee for the Evening

Raymond Dobson

Excited and honored to be returning for his second go-round as emcee for Harmony Sweepstakes, Raymond grew up watching his mother sing in church and perform in community talent revues. He cut his “singing teeth” in both church and school choirs, and continued to do so throughout his scholastic and formative years. He has performed in various musical stage productions including “Annie Get Your Gun”, “Guys and Dolls”, and “The Music Man”, and has also been an integral part of dramatic productions such as The Diary of Anne Frank, Tobacco Road, Mister Roberts, and The Brick & The Rose. He was a member of two southern California based quartets- Regular Boys Short (barbershop) and The South Bay Curve (doo-wop), as well as the comedy/folk duo The Men from Abdo (aka The Abdo-Men).

He moved to Olympia in 1990 and, after taking extended time away from performing (and after considerable prodding from his wife), Raymond returned to the stage eleven years ago and can now be seen every December on this very stage “walking with style” as Herr Silberhaus in the local Olympia production of Ballet Northwest’s “Nutcracker” alongside his wife Jennifer.

He returned to singing in recent years to honor the lives and memories of both his best friend (and fellow Abdo-Man) and of his mother. He is currently in his sixth year as a member of Masterworks Choral Ensemble. Raymond lives in Lacey with his wife and their two sons, Noah and Gabriel, Gibson the dog, and about 4,500 vinyl records.

2019 Judges

Michael Butterworth   

Michael Butterworth earned his MFA in theatre directing from the University of Montana and his PhD in theatre from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is an alumnus of Masterworks Choral Ensemble in Olympia, staging and writing for some of their Renaissance winter concerts. His regional directing credits include Dead Man’s Cell Phone at Montana Actors' Theatre and Pinkalicious, the Musical at Millbrook Playhouse. He has directed over 30 high school and college productions and currently teaches at Liberty High School in the Issaquah School District.

Scott Farrell   

Scott Farrell, A Northwest native, has been a professional actor, singer, music director and teacher for over 40 years. As a featured singer he has appeared in theatres and nightclubs around this world, including New York City, Miami, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, London and Bermuda, For sixteen years he was music director for Greg Thompson Productions, one of the largest producers of staged revue shows in the world, where he arranged and directed over 50 world-class productions He is a former music faculty member at The Evergreen State college, where he directed the college’s choral group, The Evergreen Singers. Based out of Seattle, with an additional studio in Olympia, Scott currently provides private and group vocal experiences through his company, Harmonic Oasis LLC, helping people connect more deeply with their vocal selves.

Riana Nelson   

Riana Nelson is a singer, artist, and entrepreneur from Olympia, WA. She sings professionally in a three-part-harmony sibling trio with her two brothers (called “Derik Nelson & Family”), touring to more than 70 Performing Arts Centers stages nationwide this year. She began touring with her brothers in 2013, to raise money for music and drama programs across 40+ West Coast high schools. Riana and her siblings provide educational outreach in many cities on tour as role models for young minds, conducting motivational seminars for high school students, inspiring kids to go outside their comfort zones to take chances, and empowering young women.

Riana proudly received her BFA in Musical Theatre from The University of Michigan, and during her time there, co-musically directed the oldest and most decorated a cappella groups of the university’s history, Amazin’ Blue.

With a diverse entertainment background, Riana was a lead singer for Princess Cruises in onboard Vegas style production shows. She’s also performed the national anthem for 69,000 people at a home Seattle Seahawks NFL game, worked for Disney in Beijing, China teaching English through arts and music, and performed on-screen in episodes of “Cinnamon Girl,” (a Renee Zellweger produced pilot), “Glee," and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

Riana has been featured in the Huffington Post as an “Inspirational Woman" and currently serves on the Board of Directors at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts in her hometown of Olympia. She is thrilled and honored to be serving on the Harmony Sweepstakes judges panel!

Kevin Kunz   

Kevin studied jazz piano and voice at Central Washington University and studied under nationally renowned director, John Mowad. After college, Kevin jumped into radio jingle and commercial singing, while playing jazz and pop keyboards and singing in clubs and lounges in the 80’s. Kevin joined with his brother in 2000 and formed Groove For Thought, which went on to win the coveted 2005 National Harmony Sweepstakes championship. Groove for Thought has gone on to star in NBC’s The Sing Off Season 2 and continues a very successful musical career.

With numerous songwriting awards, album credits for writing and arranging, including arranging for string ensembles and horn sections, 2 CARA Awards and 3 more nominations for 2107, he is very active in the local music scene.

Kevin formed Straighter Road in 2012. The 6 vocalists of SR come from very diverse vocal backgrounds and experiences and blending them together resulted in being named 2015 Pacific Northwest Harmony Sweepstakes Champions, their very first competition ever, and then on to with the National Harmony Sweepstakes Competition award 2 months later in SanFrancisco, competing against the very best groups from around the country, while also bring home the award for Best Arrangement!

Deborah Vinsel   

Deborah Vinsel has worked in nonprofit community media for more than 30 years. She has been the CEO at Thurston Community Media since 1990. She currently serves on the boards of directors for Washington Center for the Performing Arts and the Alliance for Community Media NW Region.

Vinsel’s decision to make media her career was an extension of her love for theater, dance and music. Her parents supported her passion for the performing arts with training in music and dance throughout her school years. By the time she reached her early 20s she was a proficient musician playing flute, oboe and piano but her plans for a professional dance career were sidelined by a knee injury when she was in college.

Vinsel found a performing home in community theater until the siren song of television pulled her into a career both in front and behind the camera. She still enjoys singing and dancing for an audience and has never met a microphone she didn’t love or stage that didn’t beckon. Vinsel often says “the arts shaped my life.”

Complete list of 2019 participants







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Interested in Performing?

We are always seeking groups who would like to participate in our events.

Groups of any style are welcome, but you must have between 3 and 12 members. We have a rule book which explains many of the details of the event, which you can see by clicking here. All groups must audition in order to compete. Generally this is done by sending a current tape and photo, although live auditions are sometimes arranged. The purpose of the audition is to make sure the group is appropriate for the Festival and to help the Director determine the performance order. If a group has competed previously, the audition process may be waived.

How to enter

Please send music and photos to the regional director :

Gary Witley (Pacific Northwest) The Pacific Northwest Regional Festival is sponsored and produced by Masterworks Choral Ensemble (MCE). Gary Witley is the Artistic Director & Conductor of MCE. MCE is a Southwestern Washington community chorus dedicated to performance, community service, music education and leadership in the arts. Our mission is to perform sacred and secular choral, orchestral and newly commissioned works; to participate in community service activities and to provide a leadership role in developing, sponsoring and broadening the vocal arts.

PO Box 1091, Olympia, WA 98501-1090
360-339-0532
info (at) mce.org


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