So what exactly is a Harmony Brigade rally, anyway? And how does it work? Here is the definition directly from the Operations Manual of the Association of eXtreme Quartetting Harmony Brigades Inc.:
A Harmony Brigade rally is an invitational weekend for good quartet-level singers who are vocally capable, committed to learning challenging arrangements, and who are prepared to enjoy success in rally activities. The charts are of championship caliber, somewhat challenging, and would be beyond the ability of less experienced men. It is not a chorus-oriented event. About four months before a Brigade rally, registered participants receive music and a part dominant learning CD for the songs to be used in the rally. Quartets are formed by random draw at the rally and each member is obligated to “hold” their own part without further rehearsal.
Each Harmony Brigade makes sure each member has every opportunity to practice singing these songs before the Rally weekend. To that end, run throughs are held in which members get to rehearse the songs live with the other men who live in their area. There are usually three or four of those, at a minimum, before the actual Rally weekend. The weekend is filled with quarteting and every man is urged to sing at least one song with every other attendee from the other three parts. A fun contest is held with random-draw quartets. A Saturday evening show for the public showcases our headliner quartet , step-out quartets from the rally, and the full 120-man brigade singing all 10 assigned songs.
Each first-time brigade attendee is also sponsored by one or more people who help him learn his music and help guide him through his first brigade weekend.