‘Battle of the Blends’ marks two decades of waging harmony

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LEWISTON — The Maine Music Society will present the 20th annual “Battle of the Blends” at the Franco Center on Saturday, Nov. 2. Six popular groups from past years’ performances return for this celebration of a cappella singing.

“This is a very unusual concert,” said Judith Andrucki, one of the original organizers of the concerts. “It’s a closing of the loop,” she said, because one of the groups in the premiere show 20 years ago, The Deansmen of Bates College, will be on this year’s program. Of course, the singers from two decades ago graduated long ago, but the tradition of The Deansmen at Bates spans many decades.

The other groups in this year’s concert are Mainely Harmony, Mt. Blue Voices, None of the Above, Renaissance Voices and Talk to the Hand.

Andrucki emphasized that “Battle of the Blends” is not just barbershop harmony. She said the six groups will present a wide variety of musical genres ranging from jazz to rock, pop and early forms of vocal music.

The Deansmen is a 12- to 14-voice, all-male a cappella group that has been entertaining the Bates College community and beyond since 1957.

Mainely Harmony is an organization of women of all ages who enjoy blending their voices in the a cappella barbershop harmony style of singing. Members of the chorus hail from Kennebec, Waldo, Penobscot, Androscoggin, Cumberland and Lincoln counties.

This year’s appearance at “Battle of The Blends” will be the fifth for The Mt. Blue Voices of Mt. Blue High School in Farmington.

The eight-voice group called None of the Above hails from Boston. They blend early polyphony, cutting-edge modern harmony, familiar folk songs, uplifting spirituals, catchy pop tunes, and lush jazz standards.

Renaissance Voices is a 21-voice auditioned a cappella chorus based in Portland. They specialize in music from the medieval period through the 17th century.

Talk To the Hand is a women’s a cappella quartet from the Boston area. They present a variety of music from pop, rock, and country artists, as well as catchy pop tunes and lush jazz standards.

Andrucki recalled founding the first “Battle” 20 years ago when she was a member of Top Forty, a popular group through many years. She and John Milazzo are serving as co-chairs for this year’s event. Andrucki said a dedicated corps of volunteers from the Maine Music Society will provide lots of homemade foods for the visiting vocal groups.

VIP/Gold tickets are available. They include preferred seating, a performers’ reception and a recently released “Best of Battle” CD.

The Maine Music Society was founded in 1991 to support the artistic and educational activities of two performing bodies, the Androscoggin Chorale and its professional orchestra, the Maine Chamber Ensemble. The roots of the Maine Music Society began with the Androscoggin Chorale, which was formed in Lewiston in 1972 as a community chorus. The chorale provided amateur vocalists an opportunity to showcase their talents in public concerts that added a new dimension to the cultural life of the Twin Cities.

General admission tickets for “Battle of the Blends” are $20; children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. The VIP ticket is $50. For tickets and information, call 782-7228 or go online to www.mainemusicsociety.org.

The “Battle of the Blends” performance takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Franco Center, Cedar and Oxford streets, Lewiston.

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