|A Cappella women’s chorus, the ScotianAires, (a chapter of the international organization Harmony Inc.), are very fortunate to have not just one, but three directors! Sue Kember is the anchor of that team with help from two Assistant Directors, Adele Merritt and Cathy Hunter. With financial assistance from Sing Canada Harmony and the ScotianAires Chorus, all three travelled to Harmony University this July. Focusing on a cappella singing in the barbershop style, “Harmony U” is the Barbershop Harmony Society’s annual week of friendship, learning and singing, held on the campus of beautiful Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Barbershoppers from across North America and beyond meet to impart and receive knowledge, improve their craft and share their love of this style of music making.|
Cathy Hunter (far right in quartet photo) first took part in Harmony U in 2017 but has been a member of the ScotianAires chorus since 2005. The chorus immediately recognized her many talents, and Cathy quickly became a baritone section leader and was made Assistant Director in 2008. In the past she has also worked with the makeup and performance committees and is currently the ScotianAires Music Librarian. It is a labour of love for Cathy! “Apart from the love of singing and harmony”, recalls Cathy, “[I remember] the amazing welcome I received, and the way I was made to feel like a part of the family from the very start. In the years since, that feeling has only grown stronger, with both the ScotianAires and Harmony Inc.”
Another highlight for Cathy has been singing with the quartet Tonic! as their baritone since July of 2014. Tonic! has proudly represented Harmony Inc.’s Area 1 (Atlantic) region as Quartet Champions for the last five years and at Harmony Inc.’s International Competition in 2018, received fifth place medals. The same year they also won the “Image of Harmony Award” for service within the organization and the wider community, and the “Accord Award” for the most improved quartet. “I was and still am thrilled to be singing with such wonderful singers and friends” Cathy happily adds. “Love them to bits!”
Attending Harmony U with her quartet Tonic! has definitely helped Cathy learn and improve but the experience is more than that. “Being with 800 other people of such diverse backgrounds and countries, all with a shared love of singing barbershop and a desire to learn and grow and share the music, was almost overwhelming” explains Cathy. “It just fills the heart and soul with joy.”
One of the themes of the week this year at Harmony U was that it was a safe space to share, explore, and be free to be yourself. Cathy recalled the powerful keynote address given by Shane Scott, who shared his experience on the recent loss of his wife, and how the barbershop community was helping him to heal. “On the other end of the emotional spectrum” according to Cathy, “our performance coach had us laughing so hard at times that we could barely breathe! It was a very emotional journey.”
The main message from this year’s Harmony U was to keep it real. This is the message Cathy will be bringing back to the chorus: “Sing words and phrases as you would say them, without artifice; deliver the message of the song with authenticity; don’t worry about being perfect, just be yourself on stage and your audiences will connect with you.” The ScotianAires look forward to putting that into practice!
The ScotianAires chorus and quartet Tonic! have retained top honours at Atlantic Canada’s most prestigious competition for women barbershop singers. Both were repeat champions at the Harmony Inc. 2019 Area 1 Convention and Contests (AC&C) held at the end of May in Sackville, NB.
The weekend also included education sessions and coaching and a “Fun Night” of singing planned around this year’s theme…”A Night on the Red Carpet”. The ScotianAires dressed up as the high school students from “Grease” and sang an a cappella arrangement of “We Go Together”.
The ScotianAires will take their a cappella singing skills to New Brunswick on Friday, May 31, 2019 when they compete against barbershop choruses and quartets from across Atlantic Canada. From May 30 to June 2, Harmony Inc. holds its Area 1 Convention and Contests (AC&C) at Mount Allison University in Sackville. The quartet and chorus competition on Friday is one of a series of regional contests across North America leading up to the International Convention and Contests (IC&C), which will take place in Sandusky, Ohio in November 2019.
In November 2017, chorus member Joanne Ryan Stewart was diagnosed with ALS. It has been a difficult and challenging journey for Joanne who spoke of the distress of trying to figure out how she would break the news to her sisters in Harmony, but also of the love and support she has received in turn. As Joanne explains, “The chorus members were not singing partners, they are family. Since November 2017, life has changed dramatically. I got married, sold my house, travelled across Canada and so much more. I have lost my voice and I’m unable to swallow. My ScotianAires family keep in touch and reach out often. When I’m introduced to people by my new husband, he often pops up pictures of me on stage as a member of the ScotianAires or me dressed as Ursula the Octopus on fun night. He is proud of my being part of the ScotianAires family, and how they help boost my spirits.”
The ALS Society NB/NS chose the dragonfly as its symbol because dragonflies have flown the earth for millions of years and have the ability to overcome hardship as well as remind us to reconnect with our strength, courage and happiness. Those who know Joanne know that resilience, courage and joy are definitely what she demonstrates!
Every chorus and quartet has been working hard leading up to this event and brings its very best to the competition. But as any participant will tell you, even stronger is the feeling of love and support that is the foundation of the family that is Harmony, Incorporated. Joanne feels that support too. “To be wearing the ALS symbol Dragonfly with your on-stage costumes, you are all making me feel I will be up there with you.” Yes you will, Joanne!
What does it take to run a successful chorus? One thing is for sure, it takes a lot of dedicated members working behind the scenes to keep all the parts of the ”choral machine” in good working order and functioning together. For the ScotianAires, the center of that team is our Board of Directors, and in April at our Annual General Meeting, we had the opportunity to thank our 2018-19 board and welcome in the executive and members at large for the 2019-20 year.
Kim Meechan came to the world of a cappella harmony singing via Chapman Mills Sound Connection, a Harmony, Inc. Chapter in Ottawa. A move to Halifax in 2013 led her to eventually seek out the ScotianAires and she joined the chorus in 2015. As Kim describes it, “The joy I felt when standing on the risers with my new group of Harmony sisters was uplifting and I was hooked!” Beginning as a lead, Kim has moved to the bass section and enjoys helping to create the foundation of the chord!
Never one to sit still, Kim got involved in chorus activities right away. With her love of photography, she became the chorus photographer and part of the Public Relations and Marketing Committee. Her creative and fun loving nature has also served her well helping the Ways and Means Committee (which she has chaired for three terms) to produce successful fundraisers. Other chorus roles include: Liaison Officer (three year term), Nomination Chair in 2018, and member-at-large on the Board of Directors from 2018-2019.
Personable and knowledgeable about her new home town, Kim was the obvious choice to guide three of Harmony Inc.’s International Convention and Contests (IC&C) organizers around the local sites when IC&C was held in Halifax in 2017. In April 2018 she served as the personal tour guide for then Harmony President Christina Lewellen, showing her the highlights of Halifax while Lewellen was visiting for the ScotianAires’ 35th anniversary celebration!
Kim is passionate about the work of the committee and the opportunity it affords members of Harmony, Inc. to speak honestly about their feelings and their experiences in order to ensure that “every woman feels they belong”. Issues that face diverse members of the organization can easily go unnoticed or be misunderstood by the general membership, but Kim hopes to raise awareness through her articles in Harmony, Inc. publications and the educational opportunities she will create.
The ScotianAires are proud to have leadership like Kim’s emerge from our membership and we too value the growth that all of Harmony, Inc. will experience from the work of the Equality and Diversity Committee. Just like the bass note is often the foundation of the chord, inclusivity is the foundation of our organization!
The Atlantic provinces, also known as “Area 1” in the international organization Harmony, Incorporated (Harmony, Inc.) boasts ten women’s a cappella choruses (also known as chapters) with a total enrollment of over 360 chapter members and associates. It’s a big ship to steer and Area 1 is welcoming a new hand at the tiller, ScotianAires chorus member Linda McMaster.
Linda first joined the Halifax based ScotianAires chorus in 2006. Jan Coffin from Island A Cappella (at that time known as Abegweit Chimes) introduced Linda to her quartet and chorus when they were both working with the National Research Council. It was love at first sound bite! Linda was enamoured by the four-part harmony and the making of music with so many talented women, not to mention the challenge and joy of experiencing her own growth along the way.
The chorus benefited from the addition of this enthusiastic lead and it didn’t take long for them to also take advantage of Linda’s administrative expertise. Prior to retirement, Linda worked as Strategic Advisor for the Nova Scotia Departments of Community Services and Justice. Within the ScotianAires, Linda stepped up to co-chair the Ways & Means Committee, served the board as a member at large followed by two terms as Vice-President and two terms as President, and also served as Membership Chair. She is proud to have begun the annual membership survey that helps make sure all voices are heard in chorus decision making. Linda currently serves as Past- President and developed and chairs the chapter`s Strategic Planning Committee.
Linda is absorbing more and more about her new role as Area 1 Director. The key functions are representing Area 1 at all International Board functions and ensuring that the Area 1 Council understands and meets the needs of its chapters and quartets. Overseeing educational functions and events such as AC&C (Area Convention and Contests) are a big part of the role.
And in case her role as Area 1 Director doesn’t keep her busy enough, Linda has two granddaughters and one great grandson who, in her words, “I love to pieces! ”. She is also an avid curler, beginning out of the Mayflower Club in Halifax and for the last ten years, with her club in Dartmouth.
It’s the 60th year for Harmony, Inc. and this year’s vision is “Harmony. Stronger”. There is no doubt that Linda McMaster will continue to lead Area 1 down that path of strength. Along with all her sisters in Harmony, we welcome Linda into her new role as Area 1 Director!
We all love to celebrate milestones and the ScotianAires celebrated one recently…our 35th anniversary in 2018. But an organization like ours doesn’t reach those milestones without the foundation and support of the “rocks” that serve as our cornerstone. One of our “rocks” is celebrating her own milestone this month as Pauline Morehouse, charter and still current member of the ScotianAires celebrates her 90th birthday!
Pauline grew up in Kentville, NS where she met and married Ralph Morehouse. They raised two daughters, Sheri and Kathy, in their dream home in Bridgewater NS, eventually moving to Bedford when Ralph was transferred to Halifax. Pauline and Ralph loved the outdoors and took many trips to Kejimkujik National Park in NS where they canoed and enjoyed the park adventures. They later bought a mobile home in Lutz, FL and spent many winter months vacationing there as well as making trips farther afield such as Australia and New Zealand. When travelling so far became tiresome, Pauline and Ralph decided to build a cottage in East Dalhousie, Kings County on Butler Lake which they both enjoyed and loved.
Pauline was heavily involved with the Guiding organization and volunteered with the Red Cross for many years, but she also enjoyed singing. Her husband Ralph sang with the the City of Lakes Men’s Chorus in Dartmouth and spent many years with the quartet, The Countymen. Not one to be left out of the fun, Pauline decided to look for a women’s chorus and so visited the Bluenose Belles, a Sweet Adelines group based in Halifax. But history had other plans…in late 1979, Pauline and some friends from Dartmouth, Layne McCoubrey, Marion Griffiths, Marion Penton and Nora Bastedo, decided to investigate starting their own chorus.
Pauline did most of the groundwork on the rules and regulations of how to become chartered and how to run a chapter and so became the ScotianAires’ first Secretary. On April 16, 1983, the ScotianAires received their official charter as a member of Harmony, Incorporated. Pauline was (and still is) a stickler for doing everything properly and correctly. In fact, sometime in the late-80’s, the ScotianAires presented her with a hat to prove her tenacity which says “Fussy Old Fart” which she proudly wore for a long time…especially at Board meetings!
Today Pauline lives in an apartment in Bedford, NS. Although she misses her back yard and flowers (and her clothes line!) she is glad not to be too far away from her two daughters, two grandchildren and one great-grandson! Still singing lead in the chorus, Pauline has always been the “rock” of the ScotianAires and has the group in her heart and soul at all times. A constant at all functions, events and performances, she was always the “go to” person for any question involving the ScotianAires or Harmony, Inc., and today we still count on her wisdom.
Where would the ScotianAires have been without the determination and vision of this force of a woman! Happy 90th birthday to our rock, Pauline Morehouse!
The ScotianAires, a women's a cappella chorus with members from across the Halifax region, represented Atlantic Canada at Harmony, Incorporated’s International Convention and Contests 2018 in Orlando FL, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4. The five-day event included chorus and quartet competitions, education classes, gala shows, and of course, lots of singing in four part harmony!
The chorus competition was undoubtedly one of the best yet, with performances ranging from beautiful ballads such as “I See the Light” from the Disney movie “Tangled” to a clever and comic “zombie” version of “Moonlight Becomes You”. The ScotianAires performed the Grammy award winning ballad “What Kind of Fool Am I” followed by a lively medley of “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Steppin’ Out With My Baby”. Twenty-five of Harmony’s 65 chapters competed in the international competition and the ScotianAires were the 3rd highest scoring Canadian chorus coming in 12th overall.
Tonic!’s bass Adele Merritt expresses the gratitude of all four members. “We have worked with some dedicated and inspirational coaches this year who have helped us to deliver an authentic performance and to connect with the audience. Thank you to Theresa Weatherbee, Eddie Martinez, Steve Tramack and a special thank you to Renee Tramack for all her encouragement and wisdom! Thank you also to our loving, caring and enthusiastic ScotianAires Chorus! You ladies rock!”
On Saturday, the ScotianAires enjoyed performances by the medalists, including their own Tonic!, the new championship chorus, New England Voices in Harmony, and the new championship quartet, Aged to Perfection. The singing went on into the early hours as quartets entertained and people gathered to sing in various venues at the resort.
Looking back at the event, director Sue Kember related how proud she was of the ScotianAires, particularly because they had premiered a new performance technique for their ballad. Kember shares the impact of the experience. “To work with such an impressive group of women is so rewarding and humbling for me, I consider myself extremely lucky. Sharing this passion for a cappella singing with them is fantastic!"
Director Kember also hopes their success will help to raise the profile of women’s a cappella singing in the Halifax region. “We’re always looking to expand our membership, so if you’re a woman who loves to sing, we want to hear from you.” The ScotianAires can be contacted at email@example.com .
As Eastern Canada experiences its first few cold fall days, the members of the ScotianAires are packing for warmer weather. The chorus is heading to Orlando FL to represent Atlantic Canada at Harmony, Incorporated’s International Convention and Contests 2018 (IC&C) from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4. The five-day event includes chorus and quartet competitions, education classes, gala shows and of course, lots of singing, as friends old and new, blend in harmony.
Having qualified for IC&C after winning the Atlantic competition in June, the ScotianAires will compete against women's barbershop choruses from across Canada and the US. Over the year the chorus has worked hard at weekly rehearsals to improve their delivery with additional workshops from internationally recognized barbershop coaches such as Rob Mance, Theresa Weatherbee and Steve Tramack.
Performance chair Jill Reid reflects on the progress the chorus has made over the last season. “With the ultimate goal of delivering a moving performance to our audience, our members have continued to grow their level of individual commitment this past year, allowing themselves to be immersed in the story of the song and opening up personal vulnerabilities to get there. I look forward to sharing the stage with these Wonder Women in Orlando!"
Weekly rehearsals also focus on improving the technical aspects of singing while paying attention to and delivering the musicality of the song arrangement. The ScotianAires are excited to bring all this preparation into one great performance on the contest stage. Director Sue Kember shares the anticipation and enthusiasm of the whole chorus. "The ScotianAires have been working hard to refine their contest songs and bring them to life. While the competition is pretty fierce this year, our goal is to put our best performance on that stage!”
The ScotianAires will also be cheering for their two competing quartets, Atlantic Champions Tonic! and relative newcomer enJOY!, when they take the stage on Thursday, Nov. 1, for the start of the quartet competition.
“Tonic! has worked hard since last IC&C on delivering an authentic performance and connecting with the audience” relates Tonic! bass Adele Merritt. “With advice from some great performance coaches such as Theresa Weatherbee, we focused less on technique and seeking perfection, and instead tried to let the music 'live'.” The quartet was thrilled with their scores in this category at the Atlantic Championships and is hoping to raise their singing and music category scores to match at this year’s IC&C. To help accomplish this, adds Merritt, “We have worked with several wonderful coaches this year, but Steve and Renee Tramack have been a guiding light in our preparation. We are immensely grateful for their friendship and inspired coaching!"
EnJOY! made their debut on the international competition stage last year, finishing impressively as 5th place medalists. Although challenged by the fact that one of their members spends a significant portion of the year away from the east coast, they try to find time to sing as much as possible in rehearsals and performances, and true to their name, truly enjoy their time together. Education was a strong theme in their preparation this year, including working with top notch coaches like Steve Armstrong and Steve Tramack. The quartet hopes to find the medalist circle again at IC&C 2018 while proudly representing their Atlantic area harmony sisters on the contest stage. As tenor Judy Robichaud explains “We feel that enJOY! possesses a combination of unique skills and experience that allow us to bring something special to each and every one of our performances on or off the contest stage; Confidence and proper preparation are key; AND we love what we do!”
If you can’t pop down to Orlando to be in the audience for the competition and gala performances, you can watch the live stream through the online subscription service, FloVoice. (Information and sign up at http://bit.ly/2OyOLwL) You can also follow the progress of the ScotianAires and their quartets on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/scotianaires.chorus/.
Music and food have always been a great pairing, so this year’s luncheon fundraiser at Intact Insurance already had the odds stacked in its favour! On Thursday, September 27, the ScotianAires provided the music and some tasty lunchtime treats which were purchased by the Intact employees at the Dartmouth office. Add in an art raffle and a silent auction for a beautiful carrot cake and before you know it, the ScotianAires had raised over $1200 for the organization because of the generous participation of its friends at Intact.
The ScotianAires is an award winning choral group that specializes in four-part a cappella harmony. Welcoming women of all ages from across the Halifax Regional Municipality and beyond, the chorus is a chapter of Harmony, Inc., an international non-profit organization whose purpose is to “empower all women through education, friendship and a cappella singing in the barbershop style”. Fundraising helps defray the costs for such items as costumes and travel for competition, hall rental for rehearsals, and workshops and continuing education for all members of the chorus.
This is the second year for the luncheon fundraiser at Intact, and the third year that Intact has supported the chorus, all at the initiative of Intact employee and chorus member Elaine Blanchard. Intact Insurance has a local charitable donations committee that helps to support non-profit events near and dear to their employees' hearts. Elaine, who joined the ScotianAires in September of 2015, is not surprised that her fellow employees are so generous year after year. “My Intact family was here once again with big support for the ScotianAires! I’m sure, along with leaving with a belly full of great food, they left with a song in their hearts and souls! ”
Indeed, the afternoon had many highlights including the tasty mac ‘n cheese (the overwhelming favourite on the lunch menu!), a singalong led by the ScotianAires ukulele group, Ukes R Us, and of course the songs shared by the chorus. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. Intact employee Carol Keyes had this message for the ScotianAires: “What a great group of people you are! Your singing gave us goosebumps and even made some of us emotional. Loved seeing and meeting you!”
Thank you Intact Insurance in Dartmouth for helping the ScotianAires to continue to share the joy of a cappella performance!
Tonic! has been the Atlantic Champion Women’s Barbershop Quartet every year since 2015, but there is more to this quartet than a cappella singing excellence. Recognizing their service to their barbershop chorus and beyond, members of their choral community have nominated Tonic! for Harmony Incorporated’s “Image of Harmony” Award.
Created in July 2012, Tonic! has gathered a long list of accolades at the Atlantic (Area 1) Championships. In addition to their four championships, the quartet received the Kathryn Ryan Memorial Trophy in 2015 and 2017 (most improved quartet based on score from previous year) and the Karen Gordon Memorial Trophy every year since 2015 (highest performance score). Always striving to improve their craft, current members Marion Fraser Pritchard (lead), Adele Merritt (bass), Cathy Hunter (baritone) and Mary Gareau (tenor), attended the Barbershop Harmony’s Society “Harmony University” in Nashville TN in the summer of 2017. Tonic! finished 2017 with their best showing ever at Harmony Incorporated’s International Quartet Competition, taking the eighth position in the coveted top ten.
Within the ScotianAires, the chorus to which all four belong, the women of Tonic! take on many leadership roles. Adele and Cathy are both assistant directors and section leaders for their voice parts. Adele has served as Music Chair and on the board of directors and Cathy is now the chorus librarian. Marion is a bass section leader, member of the board of directors and is Social Committee Co-Chair. Marion also serves as the Area 1 Quartet Co-ordinator. Mary just completed a very active few years as Music Chair and curator of the chorus history book and was Facilities Chair for the Area 1 contest for the last two years. These are just some examples of the duties the four have taken on over their time with the ScotianAires. And every chorus member knows that aside from their “official” roles, each of these talented women lead, encourage and support in many informal ways as well.
Teaching and developing the skills for and the love of a cappella singing is also a priority for this quartet. Adele and Cathy were responsible for preparing and implementing the “Find your Voice Program” for prospective new singers in the fall of 2015 and all four Tonic! members were involved in teaching this program. Adele and Cathy were also part of a group of musical leaders from the chorus that prepared a series of “Early Bird” training sessions that took place in the half hour before the chorus formal rehearsal and ran for two years. These were made available to any chorus member for their own development free of charge. For the past few summers Tonic! has led the chorus in ‘summer sessions’. Several of these have focused on encouraging quartetting, but the sessions have also helped members focus on vocal technique and just the fun of singing together!
As a quartet, Tonic! has also performed at numerous fundraisers and community functions including retirement parties, corporate events, at schools, at the Halifax Central library, and other venues too numerous to mention. They have also served as a demo quartet for Harmony Incorporated education classes, including Richard Llewellyn’s “Riser Placement for Quartets” class at the International Convention and Contests in 2015 in Verona, NY. For the past two years Tonic! has been the teaching quartet for the Area 1 Education days.
Area 1 director Linda Brehaut sums it up this way. “Area 1 is so pleased to have Tonic! represent us as our Area Champions!!! They have played a significant role in mentoring other quartets in the Area
The chosen quartet will receive the “Image of Harmony” award at this year’s International Competition in Orlando, FL in early November. Thank you to Tonic! and all the nominated quartets for the many ways you nurture and spread the joy of a cappella harmony!
|As the ScotianAires Women’s Barbershop Chorus from Halifax, NS begins to gear up for another season of harmony, the group will be fortunate to benefit from the experience of five members who attended Harmony University in Nashville TN this summer. Focusing on a cappella singing in the barbershop style, “Harmony U” is the Barbershop Harmony Society’s (BHS) annual week of friendship, learning and singing, held on the campus of beautiful Belmont University. Barbershoppers from across North America and beyond meet to impart and receive knowledge, improve their craft and share their love of this style of music making.|
With financial assistance from Sing Canada Harmony and chorus funds, the ScotianAires were privileged to have five members in attendance. Knowing there is always more to learn about performing and sharing this craft, Director Sue Kember, Performance Chair Jill Reid, Assistant Director Adele Merritt and Bass Section Leader Marion Fraser Pritchard were all eager returnees. The four a cappella enthusiasts commented that Harmony U provided a positive, nurturing environment with talented and encouraging leaders from many of the international barbershop organizations. It gave them the chance to rekindle old friendships and make new connections, with everyone sharing a common love of a cappella singing.
Performance Committee member Fatima Whelan was a first time participant at Harmony U and was delighted with everything the week had to offer. “The hospitality was awesome” recalls Fatima. “You really felt welcomed and at home the week you were there”. From the other attendees who would sit down and introduce themselves to her when she was dining alone to the invitation to join an impromptu “tag” sing along that she stumbled across on a Saturday evening, it was indeed “everyone in harmony”. Fatima added, “Even the nightly ice cream social featured non-dairy items, catering to everyone’s needs”.
There were many standout moments for Fatima, not the least of which was the opening address. Deke Sharon (best known as the arranger of the music for the popular “Pitch Perfect” movie series) reminded everyone that barbershop began as an African American art form and challenged his audience to consider how black voices have been excluded. Sharon also cautioned against looking for perfection in technique at the expense of the soul of the performance. But the willingness to remain current was evident at Harmony U. One of the a cappella arrangements Fatima enjoyed was Justin Timberlake's hit "Can't Stop the Feeling"!
A “Coaching Under Glass” session, where coaches from the three judging categories of music, performance and singing worked with a men’s quartet, was another highlight for Fatima. “Even though each coach was working from his or her own specialty, they all ended up focusing on the same performance aspects, just through their own lens.” And Fatima had her own chance to perform during the Saturday night showcase with the Women’s Honour Chorus where she was joined by her fellow ScotanAire attendees. “The director of the Women’s Honour Chorus, Charlotte Murray, is a very sweet soul and a great director”, Fatima added.
Fatima would highly recommend that anyone thinking of attending Harmony U next year should take the plunge and her ScotianAire sisters would agree! The sheer number of talented faculty all in one place for your learning pleasure is reason enough, but then you add in the beautiful campus, the variety of educational opportunities, the experiences both expected and unexpected, the hospitality, the camaraderie, meeting old friends and making new, the ice cream….and of course…the singing! Will you be there in 2019?
Five talented music leaders from the Halifax-based Atlantic championship a cappella chorus, the ScotianAires, will soon be heading to Nashville, TN for a week of music education, thanks in part to the financial support of Sing Canada Harmony, a Canadian charity supporting music education.
The ScotianAires are a chapter of Harmony, Incorporated, an international organization of female a cappella singers specializing in the barbershop harmony style. Harmony, Inc., and Sing Canada Harmony, have partnered to support Canadian musical directors receiving scholarships for best-in-class training opportunities. Harmony University (Harmony U), held on the beautiful grounds of Belmont University in Nashville, is an intensive week long workshop hosted by the Barbershop Harmony Society with a wealth of educational opportunities for barbershop style singers from all over the world. This year's program runs from July 22-29, 2018.
ScotianAire members Jill Reid, presently a Performance Judge with Harmony, Inc., and Fatima Whelan, a Performance Judge Candidate, will both attend the Coaches’ Apprentice Program. Reid will take part as an observer in order to free up her schedule for additional workshop opportunities. Whelan, a first time attendee at Harmony U, looks forward to the “great opportunity to learn from some amazing leaders, coaches and educators with the focus on Performance.”
Bass Section Leader Marion Fraser Pritchard returns for her second year in Nashville and looks forward to “classes in chorus leadership, and promotion of a cappella singing with youth in our community”. ScotianAires Assistant Director Adele Merritt will attend the Directors College and can’t wait to be immersed in a “barbershop bubble” for the week!
ScotianAires Director, Sue Kember is also a returning participant. Her schedule contains a little bit of everything: “I am looking forward to another awesome week at Harmony University. I have chosen courses that touch upon every aspect that I am involved in so I am really looking forward to the education I will be receiving on directing, coaching, leadership, quartetting and for a challenge, some arranging and beat boxing! It is going to be fantastic!”
Everyone is looking forward to the keynote address to be delivered by Deke Sharon, sometimes referred to as “the father of contemporary a cappella” and best known as the arranger of the music for the popular “Pitch Perfect” movie series. Performances by outstanding men’s barbershop quartets such as Main Street and Instant Classic will be a highlight and the five ScotianAires will also have a chance to perform as members of the Women’s Honor Chorus.
The Harmony, Inc. funding initiative “Director’s First” that Sing Canada Harmony has supported was launched in 2016 with the impressive goal of sending as many as 60 musical directors and leaders from Harmony, Inc. chapters to Harmony University in the space of five years. Since its inception, 25 Harmony Inc. music leaders from across Canada and the United States have travelled to Nashville.
The five ScotianAire participants attending Harmony U are grateful for all the support they have received, financial and otherwise, and look forward to sharing their experiences with the whole chorus when they are together again in August.
The a cappella chorus, ScotianAires, made up of women from across the Halifax region, and Tonic!, a quartet made up of four members of the ScotianAires, have retained top honours at Atlantic Canada’s most prestigious competition for women barbershop singers. Both were repeat champions at the chorus competition at the Harmony Inc. 2018 Area 1 Convention and Contests (AC&C) held in Sackville, NB on June 1, 2018.
It was an exciting win for the chorus who became the first Atlantic chapter to achieve a score of 900 since the competition began 44 years ago! Director Sue Kember reflects on the experience: “Our goal of improving our scores was met and surpassed as we earned the highest scores ever in our area. It was an incredible feeling to know that all our hard work was rewarded especially since we recently celebrated our 35th anniversary as a chorus. It is so wonderful to work with these amazing women who keep the music alive with their desire to improve and who also maintain and enjoy the special camaraderie that is the ScotianAires!”
Tonic! took home the first-place Wona Wright Memorial Award and also the Karen Gordon Memorial Award, presented to the quartet with the highest performance score. ScotianAires’ quartet enJOY! were right behind them in second place and the newest competing quartet from the chorus, Arpeggio, earned a respectable fifth place finish in their first competition.
The ScotianAires, Tonic! and enJOY! all qualified to compete against choruses and quartets from across North America at the International Convention and Contests (IC&C) to be held in Orlando, Florida in November, 2018.
Director Kember also hopes their success will help to raise the profile of women’s a cappella singing in the Halifax region. “We’re always looking to expand our membership, so if you’re a woman who loves to sing, we want to hear from you”.
The ScotianAires will draw on 35 years of singing a cappella harmony when they compete against barbershop choruses from across Atlantic Canada on Friday, June 1, 2018 as Harmony Inc. holds its Area Convention and Contests (AC&C) at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.
The event is part of a series of regional contests across North America leading up to the International Convention and Contests, which will take place in Orlando, Florida in November 2018.
The ScotianAires are the current Atlantic Champions but every competing chorus brings its best effort so nothing is taken for granted. Director Sue Kember sums up the excitement: “The chorus has been working hard on developing our new ballad, "What Kind of Fool Am I?", and hopes that the audience is moved by our interpretation. Our goal is to have an improvement in our scores from last year with our two song package, as well as have a fun and fabulous weekend of love and harmony with our Area 1 family!"
he public is welcome to attend the competition on Friday, June 1 with the quartets competing at Convocation Hall at 12:30pm and the chorus competition taking place at Convocation Hall at 7:00pm. Tickets are $10 at the door.
A popular feature of AC&C for the choristers is “Fun Night”, which will take place on Saturday, June 2. “Fun Night” provides an opportunity for choruses to show off their creativity by singing a song and wearing costumes related to a specific theme. This year’s theme is “Decades of Song” – watch our social media next month to find out what the ScotianAires came up with!
You can follow the ScotianAires AC&C activities on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/scotianaires.chorus/ or on Twitter @ScotianAires.
Harmonizing for 35 years is worth celebrating! Past and present members of the ScotianAires Chorus as well as special guests gathered to do just that April 7, 2018 in Dartmouth NS, celebrating the special milestone with an evening of food, fun and friendship and, of course, singing!
The ScotianAires chartered in 1983 as a member of Harmony, Inc., an international non-profit organization whose purpose is “to empower all women through education, friendship and a cappella singing in the barbershop style.” Five original “charter” members attended the evening: Nan Bowlin, Roseen Clayton, Pauline Morehouse and Marion Penton, all who have sung with the chorus since 1983, and Judy Robichaud who recently returned to the chorus after a successful eight years as director of another Nova Scotia chorus, The Valley Voices.
Adding to the excitement and definitely the “bling” factor was Harmony, Inc.’s International President Christina Lewellen who travelled from Virginia to join the ScotianAires for the celebration. Other special guests included Harmony Inc. Area 1 (Atlantic) Director, Linda Brehaut, past directors Shelagh Radcliffe and Mary King , honorary chorus members Hugh Dickie and Mark Radcliffe, and representatives of one of Harmony, Inc.’s newest maritime chorus, Seaside A Cappella.
The event also featured the installation of the ScotianAires board for 2017-18. Christina Lewellen served as the Installation Officer and also offered the champagne toast to the ScotianAires on the occasion of their 35th anniversary. Lewellen reminded everyone of the dedication and commitment that exists between the chorus director, members and past members and her toast celebrated the love that barbershoppers feel for each other and their craft.
There was plenty of opportunity to reminisce as attendees browsed through chorus history books full of memorabilia, tested their ScotianAire knowledge in a trivia contest and enjoyed a fashion show featuring costumes from Atlantic and international competitions. Even past quartets Cadenza, Girls Nite Out and Exit Four, regrouped to perform for the appreciative crowd.
Recent chorus accomplishments were also in the spotlight. Chorus member Roseen Clayton was recognized for many years of service as libarian and Paul Nauss, a longtime supporter of the ScotianAires, was named as the newest honorary chorus member. Sue Kember , Joanie Langley and JoAnne Paw shared the attendance award, and Barbershopper of the Year was awarded to chorus member and vice-president, Tanya Reid.
|Ten years ago, Jill Reid first stepped onto the risers at the ScotianAires women’s barbershop chorus rehearsal clutching a guest book and wondering if she really belonged. After all, she hadn’t sung in a choir since grade school, and it wasn’t like she was looking for something else to cram into her busy, fulfilling life. But when she joined in the harmony, Jill found a piece of herself she “didn’t even know was missing”. And so did the organization to which the ScotianAires belong, Harmony, Incorporated! Fast forward those ten years and Jill is now a certified Performance Judge with Harmony, Inc., ready to share her new skills with the organization where she has found so much fulfillment.
Jill was introduced to the ScotianAires through her good friend and director of the group, Sue Kember, and has sung lead with the chorus since that first rehearsal. Not one to sit back and let others do the heavy lifting, Jill dug in to help wherever she could in the organization. She worked in many capacities for the chorus including historian and photographer for a number of years, co-chaired show committees and served as the chapter president from 2013 to 2015. When the Area 1 (Atlantic) competition was hosted by the ScotianAires, Jill stepped forward as Co-Chair.
All those contributions would create an impressive resume for someone involved in Harmony Inc. for less than ten years. But there were new goals to reach. In 2014 Jill felt a desire for a further challenge and an opportunity to give back to the organization that had become part of her. She applied to Harmony Incorporated’s Judging Program and went to Harmony University (HU) in Nashville that same year, determined to increase her knowledge of this cherished "hobby". In the fall of 2014 Jill was ecstatic to receive her invitation to attend Category Training School the following January. After three years of training, with opportunities to hone her skills as a practice judge at area and international competitions and as a performance coach with various quartets and choruses, Jill received her official certification as a Harmony, Incorporated Performance Judge in January 2018 at her fourth Category School in New Hampshire.
Harmony, Incorporated members know it to be a very supportive organization and Jill is very thankful for all her mentors who have accompanied her on this journey. Starting right at home, Jill felt the overwhelming presence of support from the chorus and Area 1. “Everyone contributed to my feeling that this was doable.” Good friends like directors and coaches Sue Kember, Judy Robichaud and Theresa Weatherbee provided encouragement and expertise even when Jill doubted the way forward. Constructive critique and encouragement came from other sources such as judging panels, HU instructors and the expert teams at Category School.
And in the future? Jill looks forward to helping performers strive for a higher level of audience entertainment. Jill explains “Every performance is a gift, and if I can assist someone in putting on an extra bow, then that makes me happy. I thoroughly enjoy coaching, and look forward to the opportunities this new title may bring.”
The ScotianAires, Harmony Incorporated and the wider Barbershop community all look forward to the gift of this new Performance Judge in our midst! Congratulations, Jill!
The hard work, the months of rehearsal and preparation, the extra coaching sessions, all paid off for the ScotianAires who recently competed at Harmony Incorporated's International Convention and Contests for women's barbershop choruses and quartets. This year's event was particularly special because it was held in our hometown of Halifax at the World Trade and Convention Centre.
Competing with twenty-three choruses from across Canada and the United States, the ScotianAires placed sixth, attaining our highest standing at International since the 1990s. In addition to being the top scoring Canadian entry in the competition, the ScotianAires were awarded the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers trophy for the highest performance score for a non-medalling chorus.
ScotianAires director Sue Kember shares the impact of the experience. “It is so wonderful to work hard for something and have an amazing result. To work with such an impressive group of women is so rewarding and humbling for me, I consider myself extremely lucky. Sharing this passion for a cappella singing with them is fantastic! “
Atlantic Champion quartet Tonic! had their best result since they began competing, coming in eighth in very close standings with only four points separating the sixth, seventh and eighth placings. Tonic! expressed their elation at being part of this successful event. "Wow! What an amazing ICC weekend in Halifax! Tonic had such a blast! ... Congratulations to everyone! Area 1 ROCKS!"
Indeed it was a very good contest for all choruses and quartets from the Area 1 (Atlantic) region with five Area 1 groups in the chorus finals and all three Area 1 quartets making it to the final quartet round on Saturday.
This year also marked a first for Harmony, Incorporated as the competition portion of the event was made available live through streaming service FloVoice. As a bonus, FloVoice shared video interviews, daily summaries and behind the scenes spots on their Facebook page.
The competitions were not the only activity during the four-day event. The convention portion of the gathering included education classes, a marketplace, social events and special performances including a couple of appearances by Barbershop Harmony Society award-winning quartet, Throwback. And now and then, a few lucky customers of the food court at Scotia Square would hear an impromptu performance by a quartet or chorus as singers traveled from the hotel to the competition venue.
Arguably the most popular social gathering on the final Saturday night was that hosted by the Area 1 choruses featuring a sing-along with over sixty convention delegates from across Canada and the United States playing their ukuleles! The camaraderie and friendship on display was truly the hallmark of the event.
Director Kember hopes the success of the chorus and quartets at this year's International will help to raise the profile of women’s a cappella singing in the Halifax region. “We’re always looking to expand our membership, so if you’re a woman who loves to sing, we want to hear from you.”
|What could be more exciting than preparing for an international a cappella competition? Having that competition come to your home-town for the first time in fourteen years that's what!|
During the first week of November, Harmony, Incorporated brings its International Convention and Contests 2017 right here to Halifax, NS as over 1000 women barbershoppers bring their craft to the World Trade and Convention Centre. The ScotianAires, having qualified for International by winning the Atlantic competition in June, will compete against women's barbershop choruses from across Canada and the US.
The five-day event includes chorus and quartet competitions, education classes, gala shows and of course, lots of singing as friends old and new blend in harmony.
The ScotianAires will also be cheering for their two competing quartets, Tonic! (11th place finishers last year) and newcomer Enjoy! when they take the stage on Thursday for the start of the quartet competition.
On Friday the focus shifts to the chorus competition where last year the ScotianAires captured the Montreal City Voice Tait Trophy for the most improved chorus. Director Sue Kember shares the anticipation and enthusiasm of the whole chorus. "The ScotianAires have been working hard to refine their contest songs and bring them to life. Our goal is to put our best performance on that stage!"
Atlantic Canada is well represented at the event with the Valley Voices from Kentville, NS, the Sea Belles from Saint John, NB, and the Elm City Echoes of Fredericton, NB also competing in the chorus competition. Island A Cappella of PEI will compete Thursday in the chorus silver division with the winner advancing to the Friday chorus finals. In the quartet competition, Gotta Sing!!!! from Fredericton, NB is the additional Atlantic Canadian competitor.If you find yourself in downtown Halifax from November 1-5, you can take in some of the excitement. The chorus and quartet competitions on Thursday and Friday and the finals of the quartet competition on Saturday all take place in the Grand Ballroom of the WTCC and are open to the public at a cost of $20 ($10 youth). You can also attend The Parade of Champions on Friday night (also in the Grand Ballroom) with admission by donation at the door. For more information, see the facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/114926135773113/or contact the Scotianaires at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|If you stop to think about the most significant cities for music performance and production in North America inevitably Nashville TN comes to mind. What better location then, for the Barbershop Harmony Society's annual week of friendship, learning and singing at Harmony University (lovingly referred to as Harmony U). During the last week of July, sweet barbershop chords bounced off the rooms and hallways of Belmont University as barbershoppers from across North America and beyond met to impart knowledge, improve their craft and to share their love of this style of a cappella singing.|
Among the one thousand plus participants at Harmony U, the ScotianAires Women's Barbershop Chorus from Halifax, NS was privileged to have six members in attendance: Director Sue Kember; Performance Chair Jill Reid; and all four members of the quartet Tonic!: Adele Merritt, Cathy Hunter, Marion Fraser-Pritchard and Mary Gareau.
Each morning began with a variety of Harmony U faculty members leading a general session, including physical and vocal warm-ups, tweaking and performing a song, and learning a new "tag" (the most fun with harmony you can have at the end of a song!). The day would then proceed with a wealth of workshops and hands-on-coaching in all kinds of areas pertaining to barbershop with ensembles, directors, and coaches from around the globe.
Tonic! was thrilled to receive intensive coaching from some of the best in the business including Mo Field, Charlotte Murray, Evan Boegehold and Eddie Martinez. Bass Adele Merritt recalls, "Mo helped us with showmanship and challenged us to re-examine our mental blockages which might be preventing us from being ourselves on stage. Charlotte helped us to consider the subtext to each lyric line and to allow true, authentic emotions to guide our performance. Evan gave us insight into the music category and helped us to interpret the music with more artistry. Eddie held up a figurative mirror to show us where we could improve our blend and balance to create a smoother singing sound".
Jill Reid benefited from workshops such as A Level Rehearsal Techniques, Make a Compelling Visual Plan, Master Class with the Performing Arts College and particularly appreciated watching and learning from the legendary performance guru Gene Spilker. Classes were engaging and topical, offering the best in contemporary barbershop practice to the Harmony U participants (A number of these presentations are available on the Harmony University facebook page www.facebook.com/HarmonyUniversityBHS/) Sue Kember noted, "I feel that I have learned the most current information on the direction the world of barbershop is taking...It has allowed me to network and meet people from near and far who are just as passionate about barbershop as I am."
Barbershop Harmony Society's new vision #EveryoneInHarmony was evident all week. The men from BHS traded notes on paper and notes in song with women from the Sweet Adelines, Harmony, Inc. and the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers (LABBS). Ringing chords reached beyond traditional boundaries to include delegates from Istanbul, Turkey, who formed a group after watching barbershop videos on YouTube!
Friday evening was the chance for Harmony U quartets to shine and Tonic! performed the appropriately titled I Love Being Here With You. The week culminated in the highly anticipated Saturday performance showcase. Reid and Kember rocked the house as part of Harmony University's Women's Honor Chorus, and the audience enjoyed guest quartets such as BHS champions Instant Classic and Forefront and surprise guests, celebrated American gospel group The Fairfield Four. Tenor Mary Gareau appreciated the authenticity the choruses and quartets brought to the stage. "[T]his new category of "performance" has influenced the other two categories of music and singing. It is all about being true to the music, being believable and embracing the audience."
Considering Harmony U 2018? All six ScotianAire attendees agree that the Harmony U experience motivates and inspires. Baritone Cathy Hunter sums it up. "Every single person is valued and is given the freedom to be exactly who they are. It's like being enveloped in a giant group hug every day! And then there's the music, amazing teachers, and coaches, quartets and choruses, singing and harmony everywhere you turn! It just makes my heart happy and full, and I can't wait to go back!".
In late January of 2017, the ScotianAires took a road trip to gather in South Alton, NS at Brigadoon Village for a weekend retreat. It was the perfect winter location for us to gather, work, socialize and enjoy hearty food in the main building and then retire to our modern cabins to enjoy a slumber party. (Top bunk, anyone?) It gave us a chance to get to know each other better, to take part in workshops to help develop our craft and to makes plans for an exciting future for the organization. And on top of all that, there was karaoke!!
During the weeekend, we had the opportunity to learn more about the Brigadoon Village facility from Brendan Loughnane the off season coordinator. Brigadoon Village has been operational since 2011 but was conceived a number of years prior. Founding director Dave McKeage was a childhood cancer survivor and later worked at the Canadian Cancer Society's Camp Goodtime. McKeage decided he wanted to create a camp for children with chronic illnesses, giving “extraordinary kids a chance to be ordinary”. Today, Brigadoon Village offers twelve camps each designed to accomodated a specific chronic illness, condition or special need – the latest program is Camp BELIEVE for children who have a parent living with mental illness.
The ScotianAires plan to continue our relationship with Brigadoon Village as an inspirational place to gather and grow. And we want to help offer that same opportunity to the children who attend the summer camps at Brigadoon. The ScotianAires have donated $400 to Brigadoon Village this year and will extend this support in future years.
If you are interested in learning more about Brigadoon Village or would like to support the organization with a donation, visit their website at brigadoonvillage.org.
|ScotianAires and quartet Tonic! both successfully defended their 2016 championship placing at Harmony Inc.’s 2017 Area 1 (Atlantic) Convention and Contests for women's barbershop singing , held in Sackville, NB on June 1-3.|
The ScotianAires received the highest score of the six competing choruses in the chorus contest with their ballad "What'll I Do?" and a lively medley of "Steppin' Out With My Baby" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love". Following very closely in second place were the Sea Belles of Saint John, NB whose energetic and entertaining presentation of “Joint is Jumpin'” earned the best performance score of the evening. The five top placing choruses also qualified to compete in Harmony Inc.'s International Competition to be held this year in Halifax in early November, 2017.
Tonic!, which is made up of four ScotianAire members – Marion Fraser-Pritchard, Cathy Hunter, Adele Merritt and Mary Gareau –competed with seven other quartets and turned out to be a triple threat! Tonic! took home the first-place Wona Wright Memorial Award, the Karen Gordon Memorial Award, which went to the quartet with the highest performance score, and the Kathryn Ryan Memorial Trophy for the most improved quartet.
Tonic! will be joined by two other new quartets, Gotta Sing!!! from the Elm City Echoes and enJOY! from the ScotianAires and the Valley Voices as qualifiers from the Atlantic Region at the international competition.
Participants commented very favourably on the overall experience. “What a weekend!” exclaimed one of ScotianAires newest members Tanya Reid. “I've made so many memories, learned so much, made stronger bonds, and laughed and cheered so hard. I love this craft!”
Director Kember also hopes the success of Tonic!, enJOY! and the ScotianAires will help to raise the profile of women’s a cappella singing in the Halifax region. “We’re always looking to expand our membership, so if you’re a woman who loves to sing, we want to hear from you.”
ScotianAires director Sue Kember is one of the first directors from Harmony, Inc. to receive a “Directors First” scholarship.
Harmony, Inc. announced the Directors First fundraising campaign in 2016. The goal is to send one director or musical leader from each chapter (chorus) to Harmony University, a world –class educational experience hosted by the Barbershop Harmony Society – in the next five years.
This is not Kember’s first visit to Harmony University, held at Belmont University in Nashville, but there is always more to learn in the barbershop world. "I am looking forward to spending another week being surrounded by talented people who come to HU to share their knowledge with such intensity”, Kember enthused. “I learn so much about all aspects of Barbershop and music that it is quite addictive going to HU. I am grateful to have received this scholarship to attend this year.”
The ScotianAires are rightly proud of Kember who first joined the ScotianAires in 1994 and became their director in 2006. Recently, Kember was certified as a Singing Judge for Harmony, Inc. and has found her way back into quartetting with the newly formed group, enJOY.
Congratulations to Sue Kember and all the Directors First scholarship recipients!
|Sue Kember, director of Atlantic Barbershop Champions The ScotianAires Chorus, has been certified as a Singing Category Judge with international barbershop organization Harmony, Inc. at its Category Training School held in January 2017 at Greenfield NH.
Harmony, Inc. trains candidates for certification in four categories: Singing, Music, Performance, and Chairman of Judges. In the Atlantic Provinces, which comprise Area 1 in Harmony, Inc., there are currently two Performance Candidates (ScotianAires members Jill Reid and Fatima Whelan) and one Performance Judge (Theresa Weatherbee). Sue’s certification now gives the Atlantic Provinces its first Harmony, Inc. certified Singing Judge in six years.
Sue entered the Harmony, Inc. judging program as an applicant in the singing category in January of 2015. The fact that Sue was able to certify after only two years in the program is a testament to her extensive musical education and talents, coupled with decades of experience teaching, directing, and singing barbershop music.
Sue first joined the ScotianAires in 1994 and sang in a variety of quartets including Sudden Impulse and former Atlantic Champions Cadenza and Exit Four. After serving for many years as Assistant Director in the chorus, Sue took over as Director of the ScotianAires in 2006, leading the chorus to a total of six Atlantic championships.
Retired Harmony, Inc. Singing Judge and past ScotianAires director Shelagh Radcliffe recognized Sue’s potential and encouraged the talented young singer. “Sue was like a sponge from the day she walked in the door at rehearsal for the first time. She attended every possible barbershop class that she could and was constantly peppering me with questions, especially when I had been away to a school of some sort,” Shelagh recalls. “It was that enthusiasm and desire to grow and flourish that made my decision to ask her to be my Assistant Director and then to turn the chorus over to her, the right one. I knew that as she grew and flourished, so would the chorus. Her certification is just one more step in Sue’s progression through barbershop and indeed, through her life. She’s not done yet, I’m certain!”
The ScotianAires honoured Sue and her certification at a recent ceremony to which Shelagh was invited as a special guest. There she presented Sue with a treasured music pin to mark this high point in Sue’s barbershop journey. ScotianAires' president Linda McMaster remarked, “It is so wonderful that others can see her amazing gifts the same as we do, and now all of Harmony will have the opportunity to benefit from her sharing. Well done, Sue!”
Congratulations to ScotianAires director Sue Kember on this significant achievement in the world of barbershop music!
|Atlantic Barbershop Chorus Champions ScotianAires announce their upcoming concert "Music Speaks Louder than Words" with guest artists Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe and championship women's barbershop quartet, Tonic!, at the Bella Rose Arts Centre, Halifax, on April 1, 2017 at 7:00 pm!|
|All the practising, planning and preparation paid off for the ScotianAires, who recently returned from Harmony Inc.’s International Convention and Contests (IC&C), which took place in Providence, Rhode Island from November 2-6.
Competing against 23 other choruses from across North America, the ScotianAires placed 12th, winning the Montreal City Voices Tait Trophy for the chorus which had improved the most over the previous year.
The result was a testament to the dedication, commitment and hard work of all the chorus members, as well as Director Sue Kember, Assistant Directors Adele Merritt and Cathy Hunter and coaches Debra Lynn, Ray Johnson and Theresa Weatherbee.
Sue Kember and chorus member Jill Reid also gained important experience as practice judges in the singing and presentation categories respectively.
But the scores were not the only thing that made this year’s contest special. In preparation for the journey to Providence, the ScotianAires launched a GoFundMe campaign to help defray chorus members’ costs, made significantly higher because of the exchange rate between the U.S. and Canadian dollars. The campaign raised just over $6,000, which was divided among all the ScotianAires who attended IC&C.
It also marked the debut of the chorus’ new black-and-teal performance costumes, which were a hit among chorus and audience members alike. A total of forty-six chorus members performed at IC&C this year, seven of them for the very first time. New chorus member Tanya Reid enthused “What a great week learning from the very best! The other quartets and choruses are such an inspiration.”
And for the first time, we had live video feeds on Facebook so ScotianAires who couldn’t attend – as well as friends and family – could feel that they were part of the action.
It was also a good year for the ScotianAires’ quartet, Tonic!, who placed 11th in a tough field of 36 quartets and earned the opportunity to perform as microphone testers in the quartet finals.
But IC&C is not just about competition – it’s also about camaraderie and the opportunity to reinforce existing friendships and make new ones. Quartet winners from past years, known as Harmony Queens, performed at the Parade of Champions Show on the Friday evening where the ScotianAires own Jane Fritz was celebrated on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of her championship quartet, Metro Music Machine.
Now that IC&C 2016 is over, the ScotianAires can begin preparing for next year’s event; but travel won’t be part of the equation. IC&C 2017 will take place right here in Halifax!
|(Originally published by Andrea Nemetz on Oct. 28, 2016 for the localXpress)|
When the ScotianAires perform in four-part a capella harmony, the tunes feature all four parts, all the time.
The group includes more than 50 women from all over Halifax Regional Municipality, ranging in age from their 20s to 80s, who come together to share their love of singing, performing arrangements of popular tunes sung in barbershop style.
"It originated as a male genre, so we still use the male terms, bass, tenor, baritones rather than sopranos and altos," Merritt explains.
The group is part of Harmony Inc., an international non-profit organization that holds yearly contests and conventions. This year's event is in Providence, Rhode Island, Nov. 2 to 6. It is expected to draw around 3,000 women singers with more than 20 choruses and about 40 quartets competing.
In order to compete, groups must reach a designated score at regional events. In June, The ScotianAires easily surpassed the mark as they topped the field at the chorus finals in Sackville, N.B., with their performance of This Could Be Something Big and What I'll Do?, narrowly outpointing Valley Voices from Kentville, with the Sea Belles from Saint John, N.B., coming third.
Tonic! comprised of ScotianAires members Merritt (bass), Mary Gareau (tenor), Marion Fraser-Pritchard (lead) and Cathy Hunter, baritone, also met the standard as it easily won the quartet competition and will also compete in Rhode Island.
Groups are judged on the total package including music, presentation and singing. They wear costumes and have choreographed movements.
"We are put under the microscope and the intent is improvement," says Merritt, who teaches music to students in Grades 3 to 6 and boys in Grades 7 to 9 at Sacred Heart School of Halifax.
"We bring a performance that is authentic as it can be and judges sit at a table and assign you a mark. They meet with each chorus and quartet and give an evaluation on strengths and where to improve. It's an amazing experience and a lot of fun."
Spending the weekend away together puts a focus on camaraderie and sisterhood.
"We all support each other and sing in each others' rooms, it's lovely."
And there are friends made at previous competitions to reconnect with during a packed weekend with workshops and classes and watching other groups perform.
Previous international winners are dubbed Harmony Queens and receive a crown to wear at future Harmony conventions. Two members of the current ScotianAires are Harmony Queens and will be wearing their crowns.
While participating at the competitions ives members something to work toward, rehearsals and other performances keep members engaged through the year.
The Scotianaires are slated to perform at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Dec. 8 (the above video is from last year) and are already signed up for various tree-lightings and performances in nursing homes, including the Cobequid tree-lighting ceremony, says director Sue Kember. The group also has a show scheduled on April 1 at the Bella Rose Arts Centre.
Kember recalls the first time she attended a ScotianAires rehearsal.
"It was at the end of November and I was mesmerized by the four-part harmony. I remember the goosebumps I got listening to the Christmas songs."
The native of Guelph, Ont., who moved to Nova Scotia 23 years ago with her husband, did her Royal Conservatory levels in piano in high school and majored in music and drama at the University of Guelph.
But she she says she learned more about singing through barbershopping and teaching private voice lessons than she did at university and notes the sound created in the barbershop chorus "knocks your socks off."
A piano and voice teacher in her home studio in Windsor Junction, Kember joined the ScotianAires in 1994 and took over as director in 2006. She also sings lead and baritone.
Merrit, who lives in Upper Tantallon, joined the ScotianAires about eight years ago after moving from Swindon, England, with her family, including daughters who were 10 and 12 at the time.
In England, she had studied piano and clarinet at the Royal College of Music, earned a music degree and worked as an elementary teacher with a specialization in music.
When she moved to Halifax, Merritt thought auditioning for a choir would be a great way to meet people.
"I had never encountered the world of barbershop before. I thought of it as the Dapper Dans on Mainstreet in Disney World and I thought of it as a quartet, not a chorus so I was curious to check it out."
She was drawn in by the warmth of the women she met.
"I left my mom in the U.K. and it was like having 50 mothers and sisters. The music was interesting and I loved that the music was memorized. It wasn't a group of women with their noses in the music," she says noting she was also impressed by the performance aspects involved and the diversity of the women.
The ScotianAires strive to encourage a positive environment at their weekly rehearsals at Trinity Anglican Church in Fairview, making sure everyone feels valued, learns and improves. Before rehearsals there are classes focusing on breathing, vowel matching, vocal placement and more. The group also has workshops with guest instructors.
As director, Kember chooses music for the chorus who bring to life with their musical performance the sound she has envisioned.
This year in Providence, she'll begin training to be a judge and will practise scoring for the quartets.
Competing at the international events is expensive and the ScotianAires have a GoFundMe campaign set up for contributions to their trip.
Next year, though, they won't have to worry as the annual convention and competition will be held in Halifax.
|When Elaine Blanchard joined the ScotianAires in the fall of 2015, she never realized that her love of singing with a local women’s barbershop chorus would carry over to her workplace. But when the ScotianAires launched a fundraising campaign to help the chorus travel to this November’s International Competition in Providence, Rhode Island, Elaine’s colleagues at Intact Insurance Atlantic Region were only too happy to help.
Elaine joined the ScotianAires through the chorus’ “Find Your Voice” program and hasn’t looked back. She journeyed with the ScotianAires to the Atlantic Competition in Sackville NB in June, where the chorus took first place honours and qualified for the Harmony Inc. International Competition. As the chorus consists of more than 55 women and costs for attending the competition are particularly high given the unfavourable exchange rate for the Canadian dollar, the ScotianAires initiated a GoFundMe campaign to help alleviate some of the expense.
Intact Insurance has a local charitable donations committee that helps to support non-profit events near and dear to their employees' hearts. Elaine and her co-workers in Dartmouth NS, Moncton, NB, Saint. John NB and St. John’s NL held a “wear your jeans to work day” at the end of September where participants contributed to the ScotianAires GoFundMe campaign for the privilege of more casual office attire. Together they raised an impressive $504 towards the campaign!
Elaine is not surprised at the generosity of her fellow employees. “There is always something going on here”, Elaine explained. “Come November there will be events for Christmas families, the food bank etc.” As for the upcoming International Competition with the ScotianAires Elaine remarked, “I can’t wait! It’s going to be great!” Thank you Intact Insurance Atlantic Region for helping the ScotianAires to make the journey!
Flying high off their first place finishes at the Harmony Inc. Area 1 Convention and Contests in June, the ScotianAires – and their quartet, Tonic! -- are setting their sights on Providence, Rhode Island for the Harmony Inc. International Convention and Contests (IC&C) in November 2016. They will be competing with choruses and quartets from across North America, and need financial support to help them get there.
With that in mind, the ScotianAires have launched a GoFundMe campaign in an effort to offset the chorus members’ travel costs, which are significantly higher as a result of the exchange rate between the U.S. and Canadian dollars.
GoFundMe is a website where people can make a secure online donation to a given project or cause. Unlike some other crowdfunding sites, GoFundMe is specifically NOT for charities. People use it for everything from supporting kids’ sports teams to raising money for a birthday party or wedding – just about anyone can use GoFundMe to raise funds for a project. The ScotianAires are hoping to raise a total of $10,000 to help them get to Providence, and the proceeds will be divided equally among all the ScotianAires members who attend IC&C.
The site includes clear instructions on how to donate and information about how GoFundMe works When people donate, they have the choice of donating anonymously (there’s a box to click) or they can have their names publicized on the site. Donors will receive a receipt that specifically mentions the ScotianAires and the site uses a secure pay system so that credit card information will be kept confidential.
|(This article was written by Donna Balkan and was orginally published in Harmony, Inc's "The Key-Note" in the Summer 2016 edition)
Just before Elaine Blanchard was about to perform at AC&C for the very first time, she asked several other ScotianAires to join her in a smudging ceremony, a tradition befitting her Mi’kmaq heritage and common to other North American indigenous cultures.
Elaine felt the ceremony would release her creativity and help her deal with any negativity or nerves. When the curtain opened on our contest performance, she was pleasantly surprised at how “not nervous” she was. “It really made a difference. A sense of peace came over me and I’m sure the others felt the same way.”
Elaine was one of five ScotianAires “newbies” who attended this year’s Area 1 Contest in Sackville, New Brunswick in June.(see photo above... Elain is second from the right) Like Elaine, first-timer Kim Meechan was also surprised at her lack of stage fright. She joined the other ScotianAires for a period of quiet time (no talking!) just before going on stage. “I was in the zone,” she later recalled.
At first, Kim was reluctant to wear the special ribbon that would signify her “newbie” status: “I didn’t want to stand out.” But she was pleased with how friendly and welcoming everyone was to her and the other newcomers.
Pam Callow, who writes thrillers when she isn’t singing with the ScotianAires, made a similar observation.
“Whenever a chorus came off the stage and came into the auditorium, the audience applauded them again. When you’re on stage, you can’t really see your audience – when you’re in the auditorium, you get to see the other choruses and have more of a connection of what’s happening,” she said.
At the same time, she enjoyed the competitive aspect of AC&C.
“The competition forces you to work on your musicianship and different elements of performance. It exposes you to so many other choruses,” she said. “It was wonderful to win, but whether we won or not, I like performing and I like competing. It’s rare in the performing arts where adults can actually compete.”
All the new members – like the rest of the ScotianAires – are looking forward to attending IC&C in Providence in November. In fact, Kim Meechan was so inspired by her first contest experience that she organized a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to help defray the chorus members’ travel costs, which are particularly high as a result of the exchange rate between the U.S. and Canadian dollars.
(written by Donna Balkan)
The ScotianAires received the highest score of the six competing choruses in the chorus contest with their songs “This Could Be the Start of Something Big” and “What’ll I Do”. ScotianAires director Sue Kember also won the Don Regan Memorial Trophy as the director of the chorus showing the most improved score from 2015.
Tonic!, which is made up of four ScotianAires members – Marion Fraser-Pritchard, Cathy Hunter, Adele Merritt and Mary Gareau – beat out eight other quartets to win both the first-place Wona Wright Memorial Award and the Karen Gordon Memorial Award, which went to the quartet with the highest presentation score. Their two contest songs were “Nevertheless” and “I Love Being Here With You.”
In addition to placing first in the chorus competition, the ScotianAires won an award for the greatest growth in membership over the past year. Last fall, the chorus sponsored a program called “Find Your Voice”, which provided free singing lessons to women interested in trying out barbershop singing.
|(written by Donna Balkan)
The Sea Belles, a 55-member women’s barbershop chorus based in Saint John, NB, is the winner of this year’s $1,000 Karen Gordon Scholarship, administered by the ScotianAires.
The scholarship was created in memory of Karen Ruby Gordon, a member of the ScotianAires who was killed by a drunk driver on the way to chorus practice in May, 1992.
Any Harmony Inc. chapter in Atlantic Canada (except the ScotianAires and the previous year's winner) can apply for the scholarship, which provides financial assistance for chorus education.
The scholarship winner was announced at the 2016 Area 1 AC&C in Sackville, NB.
The ScotianAires will compete against barbershop choruses from across Atlantic Canada on June 3 as Harmony Inc. holds its Area Convention and Contests (AC&C) at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.
The event is part of a series of regional contests across North America leading up to the International Convention and Contests, which will take place in Providence, Rhode Island in November 2016.
In addition to the chorus contest, there will also be a contest for quartets. In 2015, the ScotianAires’ quartet, Tonic! won first place in the AC&C quartet competition and will be competing again in Sackville in June. The ScotianAires placed third in last year’s chorus competition; both the ScotianAires and Tonic! qualified to compete at the international level.
A popular feature of AC&C is “Fun Night”, which will take place on June 4 this year. “Fun Night” provides an opportunity for choruses to show off their creativity by singing a song and wearing costumes related to a specific theme. This year’s theme is “Fairy Tales” – watch this page next month to find out what the ScotianAires came up with!
Have a musical brunch with the ScotianAires!
…on Sunday April 10, 2016 at St. Theresa’s Church, 6351 North Street, Halifax. Call 902-454-8221 for tickets.. $15 for adults, $8 for children under 16.
|(written by Donna Balkan)|
Harmony Awareness Week was proclaimed by the ScotianAires’ parent organization, Harmony Inc., as a time to celebrate the joy of women’s barbershop singing.
It is a time to generate public awareness of this unique form of music, and to spread the word about the contribution of Harmony Inc. and its chapters – here in Nova Scotia and across North America.
It is also a time for Harmony Inc. members to talk about what singing barbershop means to them and the impact it has made on their lives.
With this in mind, we have asked four ScotianAires – Marion Fraser-Pritchard (Bass), Joanie Langley (Bari), Jo-Anne Paw (Lead) and Linda McMaster (Lead) -- to tell their stories. Click on the videos to find out more!
|Thousands of women barbershoppers from across North America will converge on Halifax in November 2017 when Harmony Inc. holds its International Convention and Contests at the new Halifax convention centre. And the convention centre is already announcing the big event, as ScotianAire Ros Morrison (pictured) discovered.|
Members, friends and supporters of the ScotianAires had a wonderful opportunity to see a special preview of Dartmouth Players’ latest production…and raise more than $1,300 in the process!
Since last June, the ScotianAires have been operating the refreshment concession at all Dartmouth Players performances, and Dartmouth Players’ had invited the ScotianAIres to be the beneficiary of their 2016 Community Sharing Night on January 11.
The play, entitled The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged is a rollicking romp through the works of the Bard, spoofing 32 Shakespearean plays in the first act alone! It was a wonderful evening, including a surprise cameo performance by ScotianAires baritone Joyce Pitcher, who was invited to the stage during an audience participation portion of the show.
COMMUNITY SHARING NIGHT AT DARTMOUTH PLAYERS – JANUARY 11, 2016
Friends of the ScotianAires are invited to attend a special performance of the Dartmouth Players’ new production, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged. Now all of the Bard’s most familiar pieces are condensed into one hilarious rollercoaster spoof! This has become one of the world’s most popular shows, and you don’t have to be a fan of Shakespeare, or even familiar with his plays, to enjoy this inventive, fast-paced comedy!
Time: 8 p.m. (Doors open at 7:30)
Tickets are $15 and proceeds from the evening will go to support the ScotianAires.
|We had a surprise guest at our performance at Pier 21! Thank you, Premier McNeil, for stopping by and posing for a photo with us.|
|(written by Donna Balkan)
The first Tuesday in September was an exciting day for the ScotianAires. Not only were many of our members back from summer holidays, but we also welcomed more than 20 new faces – and new voices – as we launched our Find Your Voice program.
The five-week program was aimed at introducing women who have not previously sung barbershop to the techniques and harmonies that characterize our genre of music. While some of the participants had a background in more traditional choral music, others had only experienced the joy of singing in the shower…or along with the radio.
Led by ScotianAires Assistant Directors Adele Merritt and Cathy Hunter, the free program consisted of four lessons in vocal techniques, including good singing posture, efficient breath control and free vocal production. Through the program, participants explored their singing range and tried out some a cappella singing with a real song. After each 90-minute session, they had an opportunity to share refreshments with ScotianAires members and stay on to watch the second half of our regular rehearsal.
The fifth session, on September 29, consisted of a graduation evening in which Find Your Voice participants had an opportunity to show what they had learned. While there is no obligation to join the ScotianAires once the program ends, we are hopeful that some Find Your Voice participants will come aboard as regular members of the chorus.
|(written by Donna Balkan)|
Tonic!, a quartet made up of four women from across the Halifax region, has won first place in Atlantic Canada’s most prestigious competition for women barbershop singers.
Tonic! won the top prize in the quartet competition at the Harmony Inc. 2015 Area 1 Contest and Convention (AC&C) in St. John’s, NL on June 5. Founded in 2012, this is only the third time Tonic! has competed for top quartet honours.
"We are very proud and honored to have won the Area 1 Harmony Quartet championship and thankful for the support of our fellow ScotianAires,” said Windsor Junction resident Marion Fraser-Pritchard, who works as an RCMP officer when she’s not singing. “Now we are looking forward to preparing for the International contest in Verona, New York next November. This is a very exciting time for us and something all quartets hope for and dream of."
All four Tonic! members, who also include Cathy Hunter (Dartmouth), Mary Gareau (Fall River) and Adele Merritt (Halifax), are members of the ScotianAires, a 52-voice women’s barbershop chorus which took third place in the chorus contest at AC&C.
“The weekend was a wonderful experience for participants, both on and off the stage,” said ScotianAires director Sue Kember. “The competition in the chorus contest was extremely tough, and I would like to congratulate Sea Belles from Saint John, NB and Valley Voices from Kentville, NS who placed first and second. And of course, we’re all extremely proud of Tonic! They have come a long way in a very short period of time.”
Kember said she hopes the successes of both Tonic! and the ScotianAires help to raise the profile of women’s barbershop singing in the Halifax region.
We’re always looking to expand our membership, so if you’re a woman who loves to sing, we want to hear from you.” -