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 .
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!
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”.
|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.”
(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)|
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.” -