Gold for New England Voices In Harmony and Aged To Perfection

In two very hotly contested finals, Harmony, Incorporated now has a new champion chorus and four new Harmony Queens.

On Friday, New England Voices in Harmony of Nashua, New Hampshire topped the field with a 79.7%. The group performed a special Disney themed set in a risky director-less set, but proving that Director Renee Tramack had prepared them well, they sang “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted and “I See the Light” from Tangled in gorgeous jewel-tone gowns.

New England Voices in Harmony - 2018 Gold Medal Chorus
New England Voices in Harmony – 2018 Gold Medal Chorus

The Village Vocal Chords, under the direction of the legendary Jeanne O’Connor, took second place for the second time with a score of 78.9%. Jordan Travis and A Cappella Showcase from Milton, Ontario finished in third with 78.4%. Limestone City Voices and Sounds of the Seacoast round out the medals in fourth and fifth, respectively.

See the full scores for the Chorus Finals.

The contests came to a close on Saturday afternoon with the Quartet Finals that ended with Aged To Perfection winning the crown. This team of two mothers and daughters scored an incredible 80.7%, edging out T4 who finished with an 80.0%.

Aged To Perfection - 2018 Harmony Queens
Aged To Perfection – 2018 Harmony Queens

Alexa Beal, Gaye LaCasce, Kathy Pomer, and Ellie Pomer are now a long distance quartet and all first time queens. Scoring 1441 in the Semi-Final round with a phenomenal rendition of “Blues in the Night” and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?,” Aged To Perfection raised the bar in the Finals with a total score of 1463 singing a solemn “Cry Me A River” and a lively, and genuinely adorable uptune in “Together, Wherever We Go.”

Rounding out the medals were Area 3’s Lip Service finishing third with 76.0%, Area 2’s Balancing Act in fourth with 75.2%, and Tonic! in fifth with 73.8%. Tonic! was also honored with the Image in Harmony Award and the Accord Award.

See the fulls scores from the Quartet Finals.

The IC&C closed out with a Showcase of Champions to a room full of Harmony Sisters (and a T-Rex), marking the end of Christina Lewellen’s two-year term as International President. The gavel was turned over to Donna McKay, who will push forward with the new initiative, “Harmony. Stronger.”

Harmony, Inc. Names The Ten

25 quartets from across the U.S. and Canada crossed the stage in Orlando yesterday for the Semi-Final rounds at Harmony, Inc. International Contest & Convention.

Rogue & Lip Service at IC&C
Rogue & Lip Service at IC&C

The day started off with outgoing Queens, Charisma, on stage as Mic Testers and after the judges worked through some technical difficulties which had FireStorm performing twice, the day was filled with ringing chords, emotion, and laughter.

The top ten quartets will return to the stage on Saturday at 1 pm at the Hilton in Disney Springs. In performance order they are:

  1. Skyfall
  2. True Colors
  3. Rogue
  4. T4
  5. Aged to Perfection
  6. Balancing Act
  7. enJOY!
  8. Tonic!
  9. Lip Service
  10. Just Jump

Something Good finished in 11th with 71.6 and will be Saturday’s Mic Testers.

Other highlights from the day include a vampire-themed set from The Karamels, HALO’s rhythmic set with a little Stevie Wonder, a reprise of the Kismet Cowgirls, and a female empowerment set from High 5s which included a song about a dress with pockets (what every girl wants!)

The finals will be broadcast live on FloVoice.

Harmony, Inc. Installs New International Board

In a night of classy pomp and circumstance, Harmony, Incorporated opened up the 2018 International Contest and Convention in Orlando last night. The installation ceremony highlighted the organization’s commitment to youth, with three youth members – Emily Travis (age 9, Area 5), Bryn Lewellen (age 13, Area 3), and Vincenza Como (age 16, Area 6) – leading the evening.

The new International Board of Directors, who will embark on the organization’s new mission, “Harmony. Stronger.” is:

International President: Donna McKay
Vice President, Convention & Contests: Donna Clarkson
Vice President, Education: Kelly Thomas
Vice President, Finance: Christina Lewellen
Director of Business Services: Jan DelVecchio
Director of Communications: Mary Ann Wert
Director of Membership: Amy Johnson
Director of Music Programs: Katie Taylor

The evening also included a treat of a performance from BHS Quartet Silver Medalists, Signature. The contest action gets underway today at 1 pm with Quartet Semi-finals, which will air live on FloVoice.

Historic Night For Scottsdale Chorus

In a hotly contested chorus final, Scottsdale edged out the Harborlites by 5 points to win their first-ever consecutive gold medal at #SASTL. The dazzling set also earned them the audience award for Most Entertaining.

The now 6-time international champion presented “Top of the World Medley” with extensive front row work, which included gymnastics and cheer lifts. Under the leadership of Master Director Lori Lyford, the entire package was based around jumping in and learning to fly and the joyful energy was only augmented by incredible singing. Well, and trampolines, jump ropes, conga lines, audience participation, and a hint of…rap.

Enjoy their entire package from finals:

barbershop, Sweet Adelines, Scottsdale, chorus, harmony

The final scores worked out to:

1. Scottsdale (2982)
2. Harborlites (2977)
3. Rich-tones (2959)
4. Skyline (2801)
5. Pearls of the Sound (2697)
6. Song of Atlanta (2687)
7. Pride of Portland (2686)
8. City of Lakes (2605)
9. Metro Nashville (2604)
10.Buffalo Gateway (2528)

See the full scores.

Other highlights from finals included:

Buffalo Gateway Chorus built their package around the cold and snow of Buffalo, complete with hats, scarves, and gloves, and plenty of warm humor.

Skyline Chorus from Rocky Mountain Region 8 brought a robust sound with a dramatic (and funny) tribute to the superwoman inside all of us.

The Harborlites Chorus from Huntington Beach, CA, brought more dazzling front row footwork with cartwheels and lifts and lock and ring chords for days.

Harmony Heartland Region 4 was well-represented by Metro Nashville Chorus with a fairy tale search for a princess with a modern day twist that included “Brave” by Sara Bareilles.

City of Lakes from Minnesota brought a parade of costumes, music, and sound and a message of diversity and individuality, which included “Seasons of Love” from Rent.

All the way from Sweden, Pearls of the Sound transported us the burlesque shows of Paris, complete with a full drum kit, beatboxing, and cowbell.

Song of Atlanta also transported us to Moulin Rouge with a colorful story of love….and diamonds. The ladies also transfixed us with their voices and dance moves for the Can Can.

North by Northwest Region’s Pride of Portland took the stage with a full sound, excellent dynamics, and classy footwork in a tribute to “Hello, Dolly.”

The Rich-Tone Chorus out of Richardson, TX were greeted with exuberant applause and they kept that energy going straight through their set, celebrating 50 years as Sweet Adelines. The group proved to be equally entertaining in their stand and sing songs, as they were with their uptunes “Can’t Stop This Feeling” and “This is Me.”

See all of the videos from finals on the Sweet Adelines YouTube Channel.

 

An Upgrade For ClassRing

After two full days of competition, 2014 Rising Star Champion Quartet ClassRing upgraded to crowns fit for Queens by topping the field with a score of 2769, edging out 2nd place finisher, Viva by just two points. 3rd place finisher, Titanium, also received the audience award for Most Entertaining.

See the full scores for the top 10 quartets.

The day started off with an extended set from this year’s Rising Star Quartet Champions, Hot Pursuit, and it was a shining example of the future of women’s barbershop – great harmonies and even a little bit of humor, it was a great kick off to the Quartet Finals.

Milli Blank, from the Nordic Light Region, came out to test the mics with a great energy kicking off their set with a quick clip of Hip To Be Square, as a nod to the fact that group is as wide as they are tall, making them the “perfect square” and then followed up with “Razzamatazz” and a dance parody that included everything from “Can’t Stop the Feeling” to square dancing to traditional Swedish music. Spoiler Alert: Eventually Lead Annika Kruk DID get into the spirit and dance.

Representing Great Gulf Coast Region 10, 2016 Rising Star Champions The Ladies took to the big stage with an energized version of “Luck Be A Lady Tonight.” They dedicated their next song, Bing Crosby’s “Cuddle Up A Little Closer, Lovey Mine,” to the loves, or “The Ladies’ Men.” They slowed things down with the ballad “When Sunny Gets Blue,” presented with a great deal of emotion and dynamics before bringing the tempo back up with Gershwin’s “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”

In dazzling gold, ClassRing, representing Spirit of the Midwest Region 5, kicked off their winning set with a building arrangement of “Seize the Day” that even included a little audience participation. Their second tune, classic “Sweet Adeline,” showed off an amazing dynamic range, while they showed off some attitude with “Shamey, Shamey, Shame.” They closed out with a message of sisterhood and bringing the world together through song with “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Last year’s Novice Champions and 6th Place International medalists, Titanium, started off their package with Peggy Lee’s “I Love Being Here With You,” representing Heart of America Region 25. Poking fun at their wide geographic roots, different accents, and vowel matching challenges, they sang a parody of “The Moment I Saw Your Eyes” as “The Moment I Heard Your ‘I’s”. The language puns continued with a little humor at the expense of the German language, which led into Sandi Patty’s “Love in Any Language” before closing with a joyful version of “Come On Get Happy.”

Back in the top ten after finishing 7th last year, Glamour started with humorous take on their album recording with an original song written by Larry Wright: “Glamour Girls,” followed by “I Love Jazz” by Louis Armstrong. After teasing with potential opera or rap, the representatives from Harmony Heartland Region 4, brought a little country flair with John Michael Montgomery’s “Be My Baby Tonight.” Gently easing from humor into their ballad, they finished with “Go The Distance.”

With a signature sparkle in their eyes, Northern Lights Region 6 representatives, Sparkle, started their package with the classic “Blue Skies.” Continuing the “blue” theme, they brought out the country tune “Painting This Whole Town Blue.” With three members in Minnesota and one ins Wisconsin, this quartet clearly was cherishing their time together on stage and off. The Beatles inspired their third tune, “Eight Days a Week,” and they ended their set with Connie Francis’ “Who’s Sorry Now.”

Back from intermission, Lake Ontario Region 16’s Spritzer looked fresh off a shopping spree as they started their set with Aaron Neville’s “Who Will Buy” before moving into a shopping-themed “Big Spender” parody. The shopping parodies continued with a group intervention and  Ella Fitzgerald’s “You Turned the Tables on Me.” Turns out the group’s lead, Susann McKinley, will only stop shopping “When Elephants Fly,” but honestly, who doesn’t need a boa and a larger-than-life wine glass with sweet barbershop harmonies?

Last year’s mic testers, Renegade kicked off with “It’s Too Darn Hot” which appropriately fit their youthful, yet polished sound – not to mention their stunning red gowns! They followed that up with “Stormy Weather.” Their third song was a gorgeous rendition of Sara Bareilles’ “Beautiful Girl,” which included a (gasp!) ukelele, before their closer “Let’s Live It Up.”

Also representing Harmony Heartland Region 4, Tenacious, turned the convention into a SA Anonymous meeting and a little bit of Dear Abbey in the form of “Dear Tenacious.” They sang full Beatles package that include “Help,” “Blackbird,” “We Can Work It Out,” and “I Will.” “Blackbird” included ukelele accompaniment.

Golden in spirit and dress, last year’s runner up, Windsor, brought us a humorous love themed set which included “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine.” After a great story from lead Mary Sarah Johnson, they sang Michael Buble’s “Just Haven’t Met You Yet,” before Jenny Allen started off their final tune with a great bass solo. The group represents both Region 5 and Region 9.

Coastal Harmony Region 10 was represented with final contestant, Viva!, who brought a USO themed package that started with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Complete with drum sticks, the group then sang “Billy-a-Dick” before doing a complete costume change for the second half of their set. Their song for the boys was Bette Midler’s “Stuff Like That There” followed by a song for the troops, Barbara Streisand’s “Not While I’m Around.”

The Starlettes Chorus, made up of all women who have won the Rising Star Quartet Contest, and Outgoing Queens, Lustre, entertained the audience while the final scores were tallied.

See all of today’s performances on the Sweet Adelines’ YouTube Channel and tune into the webcast tomorrow to see the Chorus Finals!

 

#SASTL Names Top Ten Quartets and Choruses

After a spectacular day of semifinals with 48 top quartets taking the stage, the top 10 groups that will compete in Friday’s final were named Wednesday night. We saw many previous Queens sing in their current ensembles, 2014 Rising Star Champions ClassRing rise to the occasion, and previous mic tester, Renegade break into the top 10, and several previous top ten finishers back for another shot at the crown.

See the scores for 11th through 48th place.

Here’s the draw for finals, which starts at 11:45 am CDT on today.

11th place finishers, Milli Blink, will be the mic tester.

1 The Ladies 
2 ClassRing 
3 Titanium 
4 Glamour 
5 Sparkle
6 Spritzer 
7 Renegade 
8 Tenacious
9 Windsor
10 Viva

Following the competition, the audience will be treated to a special presentation by Starlettes Chorus and 2018 International Champion Quartet, Lustre, before hearing the results.

Hot Pursuit, the 2018 Rising Star Champion Quartet will kick off the finals.

In a day full of harmony, class, and excellence, the choruses took center stage yesterday. The top ten will return to close out the Convention on Saturday, starting at 11:45 am CDT.

See the scores for 11th through 34th place.

11th place finisher, Motor City Blend, will start the show as the mic tester.

1 Harborlites
2 Pride of Portland
3 City of Lakes
4 Song of Atlanta
5 Metro Nashville
6 Scottsdale
7 Skyline
8 Pearls of the Sound
9 Rich-Tone
10 Buffalo Gateway

During the Chorus Finals, viewers will also see the bestowing of the Lifetime Achievement Award and 50- and 60-Year Member Awards. Following the competition itself, the Mixed Harmony Family Chorus will perform, as will both the Quartet and Chorus Champions.

Watch the Sweet Adelines International Convention and Competition live! 

Sirens Shine at Sweet Adelines International St. Louis

The festivities of the Sweet Adelines International Convention and Competition are well underway, with the Harmony Classic kicking off nearly a week of barbershop harmonies in St. Louis last night. It was truly an international affair with groups from across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Harmony Classic features the top 10 small and mid-sized choruses in a 12-15 minute performance package.

See the full lineup of this year’s Harmony Classic competitors.

Sirens of Gotham topped the field in Division A, as well as the overall Harmony Classic Title, with a colorful presentation and a score of 1232. The group is directed by Mira Taferner and Kari Francis.

barbershop, Sweet Adelines, NYC, singing, a cappella

It was a great night overall – here are the other Division A scores:

2nd Place: Carolina Harmony Chorus, Score 1202
3rd Place: Circular Keys Chorus, Score 1187
4th Place: Vocal Motion Chorus, Score 1171
5th Place: Bella A Cappella NZ, Score 1081

In Division AA, it was Wellington City Chorus of New Zealand who took home First Place with a score of 1229. The group is directed by David Brooks and Henrietta Hunkin.

barbershop, Sweet Adelines, singing, a cappella, New Zealand

Here are the other great scores from Division AA:

2nd Place: Mission Valley Chorus, Score 1177
3rd Place: Greater Cleveland Chorus, Score 1176
4th Place: No Borders Show Chorus, Score 1172
5th Place: Women of Note Chorus, Score 1136

All Harmony Classic performances are now available for viewing on the Sweet Adelines YouTube Channel.

Tune in for the rest of the competitions this week via the Sweet Adelines website. The webcast is free, but donations are welcomed and encouraged!

Big District Weekends for SLD & Dixie

Choruses and Quartets from both Dixie and Seneca Land District came together for their Fall District Conventions and have emerged with new District Champions and 2019 Midwinter and International Qualifiers. Here are the results:

Dixie District

2018 International 5th place medalist chorus Music City Chorus brought back their Star Wars Parody Medley and topped the field with an outstanding score of 90.5, qualifying to compete at International in 2019.

Across the three quartet contests,  Mac-n-Cheese qualified for the Senior International Quartet Contest in Nashville with a top score of 73.3 and Sentimental Gentlemen finished first in the Novice Quartet Contest with a score of 64.7. With a Final score of 79.0, Entourage was named District Quartet Champion.

See the Full Results.

Seneca Land District

The Liverpool, NY-based youth chorus turned full chorus, Harmonic Collective, scored an average of 77.8 to win the chorus contest and qualify for a spot at 2019 International in Salt Lake City.

The Harbor House 4 of Erie, PA won the Quartet Contest with a score of 71.9 and Group Therapy of Binghamton, NY earned a score of 64.0 to become the the Mixed Harmony Quartet Champion. Upgrayed, who finished second overall, finished with the top Senior score and qualified for Senior International in Nashville. Old Spice is the District Senior Quartet Champions, as Upgrayed is a previous champion.

See the Full Results.

Iris Tops The #AcaOpen

In a night of a cappella grandeur, brand-new New York City trio, Iris, tipped the scales in their favor. With masterful arranging and rhythm section work from Andrew John Kim, paired with the incredible vocals of Dara Orland and David Rowen, the halls of Carnegie were ringing with the sounds of just three voices.

Iris takes classic songs and presents them with a modern twist, bringing at once a feeling of nostalgia and a strong urge to groove. Vocals were delivered with near perfection in strong emotional arcs throughout their four-song set.  Iris kicked things off with Summertime with a simple and strong entrance that built over time. They upped the complexity with Blackbird with a natural call and response feel backing up strong solos, before moving into a breathtaking rendition of Bridge Over Trouble Water. They closed out their set with a powerful, upbeat take on Favorite Things. Kim’s beatbass was clean throughout, and he seamlessly transitioned in and out of harmony, as Rowan and Orland effortlessly captivated the audience.

But, of course, with ten of the world’s best groups on an iconic stage, there were so many more highlights throughout the night. Since there was a strict ban on any audio, video, or photos during the show, we’ll try to recreate the best parts of experience for you through storytelling.

Supergroup HIVE didn’t waste anytime bringing us spinetingling harmonies – with a mix of stellar original music and unique covers, these ladies were all sparkle. And that’s before you take their fabulous glitter attire into consideration. Whether it was the multitalented Courtney Jenson flipping between soft singing and room rattling percussion, the soulful warm tones from Lisa Forkish and Nina Kasuya, the angel-like sounds from Christina Wilson, or the stage commanding presence of Moorea Dickason, it was impossible to know where to focus – in the best way possible. (Side note – Nina, can I have your sequin cape? Pretty please?)

COLLAB took the stage next and used their strong collegiate presence to their advantage. Everything about their presentation was enjoyable – fluid movement, strong solos, and a smattering of show-stopping chords. Sara Gilbert was recognized for her efforts in leading the group’s visual presentation with the award for Outstanding Choreography.

We traveled across the pond for group three, as London-based VoCollective took the stage. The group utilized the strength of their rhythm section and offered great highlights of power singing with the female trio.  Add in a little sass and some dance moves and you had the audience coming alive and ready to sing and dance.

ICCA Finalist and Virtual Champion, RISE, stepped up the party vibe with confident soloists, a stable of talent, and a stirring rendition of Andra Day’s Rise Up. The group skillfully used key changes to amp up the emotional delivery and looked remarkably polished for a college group just getting into a new school year. The reaction from the audience was visibly positive, as they earned the first standing ovation of the evening.

Next up, we were treated to an encore competition set from ICHSA Champions, Legacy. A final performance for the 2017-2018 group, these talented young singers did not disappoint. The energy in the hall skyrocketed as these eight teenagers took the stage like seasoned professionals with a youthful exuberance. Proving they are more than just bubblegum pop, they sang one of my favorite ballads of the night in a cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” which they delivered with an emotional maturity well beyond their years. Their performance landed them in a respectable fourth place overall and number one in a lot of the audience’s hearts. Only two years into their creation, we can’t help but look forward to all the great things still to come from Legacy.

Third place finisher LUXE closed out the first half of the show with clean deliveries, a smart rhythm section, and very strategic use of the individual talents in the group. Another brand-new group with a history of success in ICHSA and ICCA, LUXE successfully engaged the audience and looked very much at home on the big stage.

Back from Intermission, the second half of the show kicked off with a bang, brought by none other than five-time ICCA Champions, The SoCal VoCals. Carnegie Hall was treated to an encore reprise of the incredible set that captured them the ICCA Championship at Beacon Theatre in April, delivered with the flair and precision we’ve come to expect from this group. More excellent solos, with a special Outstanding Solo nod to Kaylah Baker, it’s possible that their performance of Pure Imagination was their best yet, and their dance moves are simply unparalleled. The group went home with a very strong second place prize.

Reigning Harmony Sweepstakes National Champions and Bay Area favorites Business Casual had the tough draw of following the ICCA legends, but did so with such confidence and engagement, that they were one of my favorite acts of the night. This group knows how to win over an audience and they presented a very clear sense of identity in their performance. Each member of the group looked so natural on stage and brought a fantastic performance – but let me tell you how much I could sit and watch Cassie Greene all day. She epitomizes what I want as an audience member – calm but commanding presence, smooth vocals, and never a doubt that she is enjoying every second of her time on stage.

Iris’ performance was next, just before the final competing group of the evening, Ember. This septet out of Baltimore brought an all-original set that showed real talent in songwriting from Alyce (Lisa) McNulty, Hansel Romero, and Erik Fredriksen. A little bit of big stage nerves were evident at the start of their performance, but they quickly settled in and delivered a wide range of moods and incredible artistry throughout their very eclectic and unique set.

With the competition over and the judges hard at work, the audience got to sit back and enjoy last year’s champions, Women of the World. A superlative performance, as always, and full of demands for audience participation.

With small groups now on a winning streak, it will be interesting to see the growth of the AcaOpen moving forward. Is less more? Is professional a cappella embracing simplicity? But most importantly, what will the talent in our community come up with next?

Tune into #TheSpotlight to hear some singing and interviews with finalists, including a full performance of the finals set from 2018 AcaOpen Champions, Iris.