Downstate Express: 2004 Seniors Champions, 1982 LOL District Champions
(L to R) Ed Wirtz Jr., tenor; Bruce Odell, lead; Gary Rogness, bass, and Richard Treptow, baritone.

News flash -- on January 31, 2004, the Downstate Express quartet won the CHAMPIONSHIP in the International Seniors Quartet Contest in Biloxi, Mississippi! (Check out the scoresheets, or read the article about them.)

The quartet name, Downstate Express, comes from the fact that its members are spread out all across southern Minnesota in the Cities of Winona, Rochester, Waseca, and Minneapolis. The quartet was formed in 1982 and in the fall of that same year, won the Land O' Lakes District Quartet Championship on its first attempt. The "Downstate" also represented its District in International competition three times before they disbanded in 1985, due largely to the 450 man-miles required for each rehearsal.

After an eleven-year hiatus, the Downstate regrouped in 1996 and once again earned the honor of representing its District in International competition! Ironically, the quartet man- mileage for rehearsals is now even greater than it was before! Go figure!?!?!?

The quartet members are:

Bruce Odell, from Winona, MN, sings lead and has sung in several very popular show quartets, including the Mistersippis, the Road Runners, and saving his best for last, the Downstate Express! Bruce has served as chorus director for the Winona barbershoppers, and also has directed the Winona Sweet Adelines to a regional championship. Professionally, Bruce has progressed through a number of high level jobs, recently having arrived at the pinnacle of his career as a part-time janitor at the local YMCA.

The quartet's stonefaced Norwegian bass singer is Gary Rogness, who hails from Rochester, MN. Unlike the other guys in the quartet, who can all boast of experience in several high ranking quartets, Gary is lucky to be singing in any quartet at all. Gary has problems with some of the quartet's repertoire and occasionally digs in his heels and refuses to sing some songs altogether. The guys in the Downstate Express have found it extremely difficult to sing down to Gary's low level, but they reluctantly admit that he is very gifted on the pitchpipe. Professionally, Gary is in the insurance and securities industry.

Baritone Richard "Trep" Treptow lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, and joined the Downstate Express in early 1997, after a three-year stint with the popular show quartet, Imagination. Richard is an experienced quartet man, and has three District Quartet Championships to his credit, as well as having sung with the International Champion Quartet, the Happiness Emporium. Richard is also a certified judge in the Barbershop Society, and is the Society's Presentation Category Specialist. Despite his credentials, the Downstate has put him on temporary probation until he proves he can really sing baritone -- but how would they ever know? Richard is a financial advisor to state and local governments.

Ed Wirtz, from Waseca, MN, sings tenor and has two District Quartet Championships to his credit (the Ring of Gold and the Downstate Express) as well as having sung in several other quartets. Ed is a past chorus director of the Waseca barbershop chapter, is a current member of the Mankato Riverblenders, and competed with them in International chorus competition. There is absolutely nothing funny that can be said about Ed. He is an Engineering Director for a large electronics manufacturing company and has routinely made business trips to the Orient. (Claims he's an expert in Chinese 7ths!)

How to contact the quartet:

Mr. Gary Rogness
4119 - Seventh Place NW
Rochester, MN 55901
H: (507) 288-0606
W: (507) 421-2748

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