Hearts of Harmony to perform at ‘First Friday’ Aug. 3rd

Singers will perform three sets between 6:15 and 7:45 p.m.

The Red Deer Arts Council and Red Deer Public Library are prepping for a concert featuring Hearts of Harmony for ‘First Friday Red Deer’ on Aug. 3rd from 6 to 8 p.m.

The performances will run in the Kiwanis Gallery (downtown library branch).

Hearts of Harmony Chorus is a group of Central Alberta women who sing traditional barbershop, jazz, rock, gospel and show tunes in intricate four-part harmony.

As organizers point out, this coming event – which will consist of chorus and quartet performances – will thrill those who have a passion for a cappella tunes. The show will feature a generous slate of Canadian-themed tunes, said director Sheryl Brook, who has been directing the group for 11 years.

Classics by folks from Joni Mitchell to Leonard Cohen to the Arrogant Worms will be featured in what promises to be a fun and lively performance.

As Brook points out, the barbershop style, while offering loads of fun, is nonetheless quite challenging to nail down.

“I really try to run every rehearsal like a master class so that they are learning something new at every rehearsal,” she explained. “And it’s a complicated thing singing barbershop harmony.

“It’s a fairly structured harmony, so you can’t be fooling around with your notes. There is no ‘scooping in and scooping out’. You need to be accurate,” she said, adding the impeccable tone must exude an ‘opera skill with a pop focus’.

“You’re singing in a pop style; your sound is forward and bright. So you need all of that good breathing technique and all of that drama in the body. You have to exude energy to make this stuff work.

“Everyone who sings it well knows how much work it is.”

That’s not to say it’s not an absolute blast for these talented women as they perform at various venues throughout the year.

Hearts of Harmony began in Red Deer in 1993 with six members and by 2001, the membership had grown to 20.

To date, Hearts has 38 members who travel from Ferintosh to Carstairs, Stettler to Sylvan Lake, to join Red Deer women weekly to improve their skills and learn new melodies.

Women are by no means new to the genre, having been performing barbershop for some 73 years now, added Brook.

Local members rehearse on Mondays at 7 p.m. at Davenport Church (68 Donlevy Ave). It is an auditioned process, but anyone interested in singing is welcome to drop by.

“What we are looking for are voices with potential to be taught those skills. It’s difficult to do but it’s all teachable, and I’ve been teaching it for almost 40 years,” she said, adding that Hearts of Harmony marks the fourth chorus that she has directed.

A love for singing was sparked early on, as Brook comes from a family with lots of singers who share a passion for the stage as well. “My folks met because of music. And I later just fell in love with that harmony.”

As mentioned, members of Hearts of Harmony constantly work to improve their sound. Vocal instruction is a regular part of chorus rehearsals and a very important component of the chorus experience, said Brook.

During the year, they also host visiting coaches from other choruses.

But ‘Hearts’ is more than work – as well as learning music and performing in the community, members also emphasize friendship and fun, for which they are known to be about.

“I find the challenge of the music really great, and I also love the friendships that come about.”

Hearts of Harmony performs at several local community functions, nursing homes, churches, women’s conferences and private functions. For more, visit heartsofharmony.ca.

Meanwhile, besides enjoying the music provided by Hearts of Harmony, folks will also be able to check out the visual arts exhibit currently being featured in the Gallery which is ‘Close Up’ by Donna Gallant.

This collection of oil paintings will be featured through to Aug. 19th.

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