Sweet Adelines seeking a few good harmonizers

September 04, 1994|By Charlotte Moler | Charlotte Moler,Contributing Writer

Calling all shower sopranos! If you like to sing and harmonize, here's an opportunity to improve your voice in a friendly, fun atmosphere with the Upper Chesapeake Chorus of Sweet Adelines International.

The choral group, which sings four-part a cappella harmony in the barbershop style, is holding a four-week vocal workshop for prospective members starting Sept. 12.

"It's really a lot of fun," says Fran King, president of the chorus. "We decided on the name 'Vocal Images Show Chorus' for our performing group because we want people to know we're not just a bunch of old ladies standing on risers singing old songs.

"We sing everything from Broadway tunes to gospel to country and western, and we really perform the music with expression, costuming and choreography."

Chorus membership is currently at 43, and they're looking for a few good women.

What does it take to be a Sweet Adeline?

"Reading music is not a prerequisite," Dottie Vinopal, who coordinates publicity for the group, says. "But you have to have the commitment to attend rehearsals, a willingness to try and the ability to hold your part."

There are four parts in barbershop singing -- lead, tenor, baritone and bass. The vocal lines can be intricate, and a singer must be able to hold her part while singing. It's also important for the voices to blend, with no one voice standing out.

The chorus, now in its 20th year, has sung at Ladew Gardens, the Steppingstone Museum, the Bel Air Arts Festival and many other local events, and participates in the annual regional Sweet Adelines competition.

"We placed sixth the past two years in the regionals, which is great for a chorus of our size," says Ms. Vinopal. "But to get any higher, we need to 60 or 70 voices strong to create that wall of sound the judges listen for."

Says Linda Brown, who joined the chorus after taking part in last year's vocal workshop, "The minute I saw those happy faces and the energy in the room, I knew Sweet Adelines was for me."

"It's fun, but also a challenge learning the parts," says newcomer Sharon Lancer. "Sometimes when it all comes together, it just gives you goose bumps."

Chorus members hail from Harford, Cecil and northern Baltimore counties and from southern Pennsylvania. They range in age from teens to seniors, and come from all walks of life. Their common denominator is their love of singing.

The camaraderie of the group was evident as the members joked and jostled each other on the risers before getting down to business at a recent rehearsal.

But then all eyes were on director Cydney Wentsel. As the petite brunette bounded into the first bar of a new song, 43 faces lighted up.

"Believe it or not, I'm walking on air. I never knew I could feel this free!" they sing joyfully, as intricate voice parts weave in and out in close harmony.

Suddenly Ms. Wentsel clapped her hands. Something was wrong. A tricky bass line was dissected and polished, and the other voice parts were added. Satisfied, she says, "OK, let's try the choreography."

Ms. Wentsel, a certified director, arranger and barbershop coach, will lead the free vocal workshop starting Sept. 12 for four Mondays at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Southampton Middle School in Bel Air. The workshop will include vocal instruction, ear training, four-part a cappella harmonizing, stage presence and choreography.

Information: 838-0921.

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