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UMM alumni stay connected through barbershop quartet


University of Minnesota, Morris alumnus Adam Helgeson ’12 founded barbershop quartet Kordal Kombat in 2009. While at Morris, he and his ensemble—Scott Veenhuis ’13, Mark Halverstadt ’13, and Ben Israelson ’14—performed at various University choir concerts as well as music events and festivals around the state.

After graduating, the quartet qualified for international and district barbershop competitions. As a result, the members of Kordal Kombat have not only managed to stay connected after college, but have also found unexpected success.

Helgeson founded Kordal Kombat as an a cappella group. After a long series of auditions and roster changes, the group formed its current lineup and began to focus more specifically on barbershop singing. They were inspired to sing competitively after attending the Barbershop Harmony Society’s (BHS) 2012 International Convention in Portland, Oregon. Afterwards, Kordal Kombat became a registered quartet of the BHS, the largest all-male singing organization in the world.

“The biggest change [since leaving Morris] would be trying to incorporate singing into our everyday lives,” said Helgeson. “[The competitions] kind of saved our quartet. The fact that we qualified for internationals, and to compete in subsequent years, motivated us to do what we need to keep rehearsing and stay together.”

In April, the group entered the Northern Plains Division Quartet and Chorus Competition in Minot, North Dakota, where they qualified for the BHS 75th Annual International Convention in Toronto and were later named Land O’Lakes (LOL) district collegiate champions. While Helgeson claims they were unsure of their goal in the Minot competition, the quartet has a clear idea of what it hopes to accomplish in Toronto: placing “in the top ten.” 

The BHS 75th Annual International Convention will take place between June 30 and July 7, 2013. Kordal Kombat will be representing the University of Minnesota, Morris as well as the LOL district, which includes Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, northwestern Michigan, and all of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Western Ontario. The contest will take place on Tuesday, July 2. A live broadcast of the collegiate contest is available for $30, and a delayed broadcast is available for $10. Kordal Kombat is scheduled to be the seventeenth quartet in the contest.

Kordal Kombat is also tied for fifth-place going into the LOL district open division contest this fall, where it plans to compete with quartets beyond the collegiate demographic. Additional information on the quartet and its upcoming events is available online at