Sweet harmonies thrill town hall crowd

Barbershop harmonies hit the right note with Elizabeth Bouman.

Sweet Adelines NZ Convention 2017
Dunedin Town Hall
Thursday, April 20


Elizabeth Bouman
Elizabeth Bouman

Barbershop harmony originated in the mid-19th century and has fallen in and out of vogue over the years, but currently this style of a capella choral singing is very popular worldwide for both male and female choruses, and this weekend Dunedin hosts the Sweet Adelines New Zealand Convention 2017.

The convention opened in Dunedin Town Hall last night with Scottish pipes, a keynote speech from Janice Tindall-Morris and a showcase performance by the Christchurch City Chorus.

Their 15-minute themed "package'' won them audience choice and fifth placing overall at last year's International Sweet Adelines competitions in Las Vegas.

Director Virginia Humphrey-Taylor achieved the status of "Master Director 700'' for that performance with her chorus of 133, which included several Dunedin Harmony Chorus out of town members.

Barbershop demands a change of harmony on nearly every beat and the ability to hold parts while confidently moving by tone or semitone, as homophonic texture engulfs melodies with overtones and harmonics produced through exact intonation and little or no vibrato.

Visual aspects sustain the aural magic, with glamorous "chorus uniforms'' sparkling with femininity, and last evening Christchurch City, resplendent in black and bling with a dash of crimson, certainly delivered a top-shelf performance of this vocal genre.

Innovative choreography and body language matched every word of their dance-themed selection, which opened with Will It Be Me This Time? and continued with songs and displays of flamenco, limbo, Charleston, twist, Maori poi and much more.

Humphrey-Taylor fashioned an incredible palate of shading and emotion which thrilled in the town hall's magnificent acoustic qualities.

Some 450 chorus members from all over New Zealand are competing in quartets and chorus sections (public audience are welcome), and a Massed Sing at 5.30pm in the Octagon this evening promises to be great entertainment.

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