Some sweet female harmonies will be heard in Surrey this weekend.
An all-Canadian regional convention and competition hosted by Sweet Adelines International will fill Chandos Pattison Auditorium with a cappella singers from B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Several vocals-only choirs and quartets will sing at the “Fusion”-themed event from Friday to Sunday (May 4 to 6), with a trio of public concerts planned.
Canada’s most westerly provinces represent Region 26 of Sweet Adelines International, a global organization of women singers established in 1945.
“This is going to be an exciting weekend of excellent a cappella music showcasing the joy and skill of women’s barbershop,” event publicist Monica Spreitzer told the Now-Leader.
“After Friday’s Quartet competition (5 p.m. start), and Saturday’s Chorus competition (11 a.m.), there will be a Show of Champions (7:30 p.m. Saturday) showcasing the winning performances as well as performances from Vancouver’s own Lions Gate Chorus, who placed second internationally this past October. Region 26’s Frenzy Quartet, who won first place at Internationals in 2016, will also be performing at the Saturday night showcase. It is going to be an amazing night.”
Tickets are $30 per event – or $15 for those aged seven to 25 – and are available for purchase in the theatre lobby.
In a free event to give people a taste of what’s to come, Spreitzer added, “we will be starting out the weekend event with a Mass Sing on Friday, May 4 from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. at Guildford Town Centre.”
Twenty-four choruses are listed on Sweet Adelines International’s Region 26 website (region26.ca/choruses), including two Surrey-based groups: the Anne Downtown-directed Westcoast Harmony Chorus and Peace Arch Chorus, directed by Emma Gibson.
Last Wednesday evening (April 25) at Newton Cultural Centre, the 24-member Peace Arch ensemble performed a “sneak peak” concert that served as a dress-rehearsal for the competition at the Chandos.
“It’s a big weekend for us, absolutely,” Gibson said of Region 26 convention. “There will be hundreds of us, even thousands, and we’ve basically filled up the Sheraton (hotel) in Guildford, and some other hotels, too.”
The competition aspect of the weekend event is very friendly, Gibson noted.
“Sweet Adelines is very much a sisterhood of women who love to sing and love to sing together,” she explained. “It’s kind of a cool feeling singing with a bunch of people you love, and this contest, this event, is just a big get-together of people who see each other only once or twice a year, in some cases, so there’s lots of partying that goes on too,” Gibson said with a laugh.
Peace Arch Chorus, which has been around for more than four decades, rehearses at Newton Cultural Centre every Wednesday starting at 7:15 p.m., and prospective members can come check it out anytime, Gibson said. “They can come out and see what we’re about, stand on the risers and learn a bit, and then there is an audition process.”
Gibson, a South Surrey resident and self-described “barbershop brat” whose parents were both barbershop singers, is engaged to be married to Josh Honrud, an American who sings with the all-male Aldergrove quartet. The cross-border romance will include some performance time at this weekend’s gathering, with Honrud filling in on baritone for Gibson’s Glow quartet. “We’ve been invited to sing on the opening night of the weekend, not part of the competition,” Gibson noted.
Top groups from this weekend’s event in Surrey will move on to an international competition hosted by Sweet Adelines International, this year in St. Louis. Judging is done in the four categories of music, sound, expression and showmanship.
Region 26 is proud to send very high-calibre choruses and quartets each year, Spreitzer said.
“There are approximately 550 quartets worldwide,” she explained. “Anne Downton (baritone of Frenzy) is the master director of Westcoast Harmony Chorus, based in Surrey. Also, at the International Chorus contest our very own Lions Gate Chorus (Vancouver) placed second in the world, (and) director Sandy Marron (White Rock) is so proud of her 110-member chorus. Both Frenzy and Lions Gate Chorus will present a special performance at the Show of Champions (on Saturday evening). You’ve got to hear this!”
Those who can’t attend the three weekend concerts in person are invited to watch and listen on the web, at region26webcast.com, for the price of $25 (USD).