Feature: Sweet Adelines in Australia to celebrate 25 years of singing
Sweet Adelines Australia is part of Sweet Adelines International, a premier world-wide organisation of women singers committed to advancing the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education, competition and performance.
In Australia, over 1300 women meet regularly to sing in their local choruses, large and small, and perform locally, nationally and internationally. There are currently 31 choruses all over Australia which range in size from 15 to over 100 members.
Sweet Adelines Australia is celebrating its 25th Anniversary next year, which is an outstanding achievement and a milestone for barbershop singing in Australia. We asked them what these choruses are doing in 2014 and what the future holds for Sweet Adelines.
Where did these groups originate and how did they come to be popular in Australia?
Some enthusiastic women singers got together in Perth in 1981 to start a prospective chorus. Their efforts were surpassed by an equally enthusiastic group from Victoria, now known as the Melbourne Chorus, which became the first official Sweet Adelines chorus in Australia in 1983. 31 chartered choruses now meet across Australia. Singers come for the opportunity to sing a cappella and the high level of vocal and performance education offered at each rehearsal. The goal for musical excellence underpins lifelong friendships, team work and personal growth that members experience.
How do these groups differ from other choirs?
Unlike many other community based choirs, Sweet Adelines choruses take members by audition and provide education in singing at each rehearsal. Members gain skills in vocal skills, visual performance along with a range of other skills such as public speaking through their chorus membership. We aim to provide a great product for audiences.
Barbershop arrangements are designed to lock and ring chords. When they are sung with good vocal production, well tuned and delivered with passion and energy, it really connects with audiences and leaves them wanting more.
Our research has found that some choirs are based around particular demographic groups. Are Sweet Adelines Choruses more popular with older or younger women?
Members range from the 30 to 70 age group, though you will find others outside that age bracket.
Younger members, often daughters of members join to be part of the barbershop family. Some choruses have members as young as 15 and as old as 80!
What repertoire are Sweet Adelines Choruses performing?
Almost any song can be written in four part harmony, barbershop style, although some songs lend themselves more to this such as jazz standards. Our repertoire includes pop, wing, gospel, jazz, country and even classical.
What can people do to find out more about Sweet Adelines Choruses?
We have groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra, Perth, Gold Coast and many regional centres in between!
Information on chorus listings, conventions, and educational activities can be discovered on the Sweet Adelines Australia website at: www.sweetadelines.org.au
The Redland Rhapsody Chorus (top right) from Brisbane were placed second in the mid-size chorus competition held in Perth in 2013.
Circular Keys Chorus (bottom left) from Sydney were the Sweet Adelines Australia Chorus Champions in 2011 and went on to compete at the International Competition in Denver in 2012.