Have you ever listened in awe to the harmony of a barbershop quartet? The blend of voices, the magic of intermingling leads, tenors, baritones and basses? It has an audible overtone that sends chills up your spine.
O.K. City Chorus, a chapter of Sweet Adelines, one of the top performing groups in Oklahoma, brings music to life. “Our four-part a cappella harmony has garnered rave reviews at concerts and corporate events for fifty years,” said Nancy Nortz, their Marketing Coordinator.
Sweet Adelines International has 600 chapters of female singers in five continents, divided into thirty regions around the world. There are two primary performances available—chorus and quartets.
“I’m a third generation barbershopper myself,” said Nortz. “Both of my parents sang, and three brothers still sing in barbershop quartets. I didn’t start until after I was forty years old because of a busy lifestyle, but once I started I loved it.”
Nortz says her daughter is also involved. “While [she] was in college, her group won the international contest for the “Rising Stars,” a Sweet Adelines quartet for members under 25 years old. Their members were 15 to 17 years old and scored a perfect score in every category. It’s still a record!”
Competition, which focuses on a few songs practiced over and over to perfection, is different from performances. “We compete in a five state area,” said Nortz. “Our chapter has won eighteen times in regional competition and we’re currently preparing for the International Competition in Hawaii. We’ve consistently placed in the top ten internationally.”
Nortz says it will take a year to prepare for the competition in Hawaii. “Besides practicing, we have fund raising. The cost of taking our group will exceed $100,000. Being an Allied Arts member agency will help with promotion and make some funds available for travel and costumes,” she said. “We also raise some money by performing for corporate events like company banquets. Our quartets do a lot of performances for small companies and parties.”
According to Nortz, people initially participate in Sweet Adelines to have a place to perform and an outlet for creativity. “But one of the greatest rewards is the kinships that form,” she said. “We become close and supportive since we spend so much time rehearsing and traveling together. We also form close bonds with other chapters. Camaraderie and friendships are big benefits.”
The groups rehearse one evening a week for three hours, although extra time may be needed for a major event. They also have ‘learning opportunities’ each week just before rehearsal, like extra vocal training or choreography, classes—not required but available.
Wide age spans of individuals perform with the O.K. City Chorus. The youngest is twelve years old and the oldest is approaching eighty. “Some associate members in their 80’s are no longer on the risers,” said Nortz.
The O.K. City Chorus has around 95 members. They come to rehearsal from towns as far away as Tulsa and Lawton. Almost a third of the members come from Edmond, including Polly Worthington, the Costume Chair; Anne Lashley, a Section Leader; and Donna Smith, a member of the Choreography Team.
Nancy Nortz is also a member of the Music Staff and Choreography Team. The third member of the Choreography Team is Marcia Massey, whose husband, Jim Massy, has been the director for more than forty years.
Dual membership is a new opportunity made available to Sweet Adelines. A person can be a member of two different Sweet Adeline chapters. “This allows people from smaller groups to compete at the international level.”
“We’ll perform in Honolulu on November 4-8, 2008, and we’d like to take a hundred chorus members.” said Nortz. “We’re still looking for quality singers.”
If you are interested in singing or booking an event, visit O.K. City Chorus’ website, www.OKCity.org, or call 405-720-SING.