Region 13 of the Sweet Adelines International held its annual Chorus and Quartet Competition and Convention last Friday and Saturday at the Opera House. Region 13 covers Alaska, Washington, and parts of Idaho and Montana.
Hundreds of women in dozens of ensembles work all year to prepare for this event, digging up or writing their own barbershop show-stoppers, creating uniforms and costumes, coordinating choreography and, of course, practicing the music. This is a big deal for them and a lot of fun for others to see.
This made me wonder why the Saturday night program, featuring all of the winners, did not draw more people. Sure, the Opera House floor was fairly full, but if the resting Adelines and their relatives were not in the audience, it would have been rather sparse. Certainly there must be a few who enjoy close harmony singing who are not already involved in a group.
The women did sing their hearts out, even if it was mostly for each other. The culmination of a year of hard work gave a heady and empowered feeling to these women, whose shared love of barbershop style provides a deep camaraderie with their like-minded sisters.
The concert began with the 1994 chorus champions, Anchorage’s Cheechako Chorus, which will go on to represent Region 13 at the International convention in New Orleans this October. Outfitted in matching (all of the groups matched down to the shoes) pink satin and sequin dresses with handkerchief shirts, they danced and moved as much as a chorus on risers and in heels can.
Cheechako sang several numbers with a New Orleans theme, including “Tin Roof Blues” and a “what’s the big deal about Dixie?” spoof, extolling the virtues of the Far North with lines like Alaska’s where I wanna be/Ice and snow are fine with me.
This year, the top three quartets all drew at least some of their members from Bellevue’s Pacific Sound Chorus. Legacy sang its way to first prize, with the Heartbeat and Upstage quartets coming in second and third.
With only four singers on stage, each quartet member has to be a soloist. Having no weak spot is what really makes the difference for the best groups. Each of the women, in turn, could lead with confidence.
Heartbeat’s treat was a medley of Fats Waller tunes, and Legacy’s hottest number was an up tempo rendition of the old standard “Be Sure It’s True When You Say ‘I Love You.”’ Balance was good in both of these groups, and some of their chords were so in tune that the seats vibrated.
The chorus winner was the Pacific Sound Chorus, which will go on to the International festivities in 1996 in St. Louis. Lakeside, from Bellevue, and Jet City, from Federal Way, took second and third honors. The top choruses make their acts unique with custom arrangements and extensive choreography.
Pacific Sound performed a string of World War II-era numbers, including “This is the Army, Mr. Jones” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Their immersion into the era was made complete through costuming: They wore ‘40s cut skirts and jackets in white with red sequins, topped off with white and red busboy hats.
Interspersed in the program were sing-along numbers for audience participation. It was quite a sensation to be in the midst of a thousand singing women, feeling their bonds strengthening. The feeling was enough to make you realize why they will begin the work all over for another year.
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN; CONCERT REVIEW - Critic-at-large
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