The Surrey-based ensemble earned a sixth-place medal at the COVID-delayed Sweet Adelines International contest, held in Phoenix in mid-September for the first time in a couple of years.
Led by music director Anne Downton, Westcoast is billed as an “a cappella chorus of women and people of marginalized genders who love to sing four-part harmony, mainly in the barbershop style.” They rehearse weekly at Parkland Community Church in North Surrey.
In Phoenix last month, they sang their way to fourth place in the Sweet Adelines semifinals, in a field of 26 competing choruses from around the world. That top-10 score took Westcoast to the finals, where they came away with the 6th-place medal.
The achievement was celebrated after more than two years of Zoom rehearsals, followed by outdoor rehearsals, indoor rehearsals in hula hoops, masking and COVID cancellations.
“I think we all are still on Cloud 9,” said Kelly Collins, Westcoast’s marketing co-ordinator.
“I am very proud to say, for the first time in our chapter’s 57-year history, Westcoast Harmony made the Top 10, which put us on the finals stage the Saturday evening. We are proud to be the sixth-place chorus in the world of Sweet Adelines!”
The chorus sang versions of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” and Serena Ryder’s “Sing Sing,” among several other songs.
The week-long gathering in Phoenix featured competing choruses and quartets from the U.S., Canada, Sweden, United Kingdom and New Zealand, and was webcast live around the world. The event was Sweet Adelines International’s 74th annual convention and competition.
Several new members joined Westcoast when the chorus switched to online rehearsals in 2020 and 2021.
“(To Phoenix) we took 12 members with us who had never competed on the International stage, along with three members who sang with us at our first ever International competition back in 1987,” Collins added.
Looking ahead, Westcoast is planning a return to the competitive stage next spring in Saskatoon, and will return to regular weekly rehearsals Wednesday, Oct. 19.
“We are actively looking for members to join this incredible hobby, and they (new members) will have to opportunity to participate in several holiday performances coming up quick,” Collins noted.
Westcoast has confirmed gigs at Westcoast Christmas Show in Abbotsford (Nov. 20), and at Surrey Tree Lighting Festival (Nov. 26).
Several other Surrey-area choirs and choruses are looking for new members, too. Details are posted below.
Peace Arch Chorus: A capella group celebrates 50th anniversary this year, with plans for a Celebration Concert on Dec. 3. Rehearsals are at Newton Cultural Centre under the direction of Elvera Collier and assistant director Bev Feick. “Auditioned members are provided with excellent musical education and vocal coaching.” Chorus welcomes women to join. Info: peacearchchorus.ca.
Aequitas Singers: Located in Surrey, Aequitas Singers is an adult-only, non-auditioned choir “that sings to bring hope, to raise awareness of social justice issues, and to have fun.” New singers can attend rehearsals Tuesday 7 p.m. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Info: aequitassingers.ca.
Soundscape A Capella Chorus: Love to sing? Check out our mixed-voice, auditioned community chorus for adults. Rehearsals are Tuesday evenings at Fraser Heights Secondary in Surrey. Info: soundscapesings.ca/auditions.
Handel Society Choir invites new members. “We will be performing Handel’s ‘Messiah’ in the South Surrey/White Rock area at Christmas.” Rehearsals began Sept. 13 at 7.30 p.m. at Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church, on 174 Street and 60 Avenue. Soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices are wanted. Phone 604-202-7801 for information.