By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
A local women’s a cappella chorus, Southern Accord, was recently awarded two medals at the 2022 Region 26 Sweet Adelines virtual contest. “The chorus earned third place for small choruses and fifth place out of all chorus sizes in western Canada,” said President of the Southern Accord Chorus, Carol Quan, who has been involved with the chorus for nearly 15 years.
Southern Accord Chorus is comprised of 30 women from across southern Alberta. Members from Coaldale, Milk River, Iron Springs, Warner, Brooks, and Lethbridge contribute to the velvety sonic landscape of the chorus. “I’m very proud of the fact that we that we want to medal after everything that we’ve been through,” said Quan and added, “I think we’ve been pretty successful. The group is pretty strong together, so just trying to manoeuvre through the end of COVID and get back to where we usually are.”
The group performs four-part, a cappella harmony with a vast repertoire including everything “from barbershop to Bruno (Mars) and everything in between,” and said, “the four-part harmony is just magical. A lot of us are not solo singers, but to be part of making that beautiful music together is so exciting,” said Quan.
Quan added the group has been resilient in navigating the nuances and challenges presented by the pandemic. The recent competition was made possible through a slightly different format than conventional recitals or competitions. Quan explained, “we had somebody record us singing the songs,” and then, rather than receiving in-person feedback, the video submission was adjudicated virtually. However, whether the chorus is performing in-person or virtually, Quan said, “it’s an opportunity to sing and get some feedback to make us all better singers.”
“It’s kind of nice to be recognized for all the hard work that we’ve put in,” said Quan, noting the challenges of the last two years. The virtual practices, while different and challenging in some ways, did provide an opportunity for the singers to practice in unconventional ways. “We’ve had to be creative and very flexible week by week to maintain interest and support our singers during this time,” said Musical Director Jill McLeod in a written statement.
Quan explained, “we’re lucky that our music is all shared online,” so the singers were able to practice their individual and group parts with a recorded piece of music. Even if this was not always ideal, the singers, “got to use that (recorded piece of music) over and over—it helps you tune because your ear gets so used to hearing the proper notes that you’re less likely to go out of tune.”
While this rehearsal arrangement is atypical, the singers adapted and found creative ways to make harmony together. “Whenever we could, we took opportunities in the last two years. We’ve rehearsed outside of McNally Community Centre with the hay bales behind us. We did a thing last summer called “car-ber-shop”, where we sang in our cars. We had microphones in each car and then we could hear each other on an FM channel,” explained Quan, a strategy which allowed the group to sing together after months of not being able to work together in real-time or close proximity due to COVID and the inevitable lags with technology.
More recently, Quan said the chorus has gradually been able to re-establish in-person rehearsals, with members who are comfortable, and continue to have other arrangements in place for those who wish to keep things online for now.
Quan said the chorus members are looking forward to getting back to more live performances in the future. “Harmony really relies on you tuning to each other. And so when we’ve been able to get together, we just rejoiced that opportunity,” Quan said.
Next year will mark the group’s 25th anniversary. “We are inviting talented singers to join them and experience their music at rehearsals Wednesday evenings in May and June this year at McNally Community Centre.” For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Helen at (403) 394-4041.
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