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Leaving a Legacy: North Metro Chorus

I recently attended my Regional Sweet Adeline contest in Syracuse, New York where we honoured our director of 45 years.  The legacy she has left for not only her chorus, but the Region and the International organization is undeniable.

Singing has been a passion of mine since I was a young girl and though I sang in school choirs and dreamed of growing up to be in musicals…. I never would have guessed that my passion would find its home in a women’s four-part a cappella organization. I found it when I was 22 years old and was hooked from the first visit. I didn’t realize that a women’s organization like this existed – I thought it was only a men’s gig.  I had so much fun on Tuesday evening rehearsals; I made great friends, learned so many vocal skills and the bonus was the choreography which reminded me of the musicals I loved growing up.

North Metro Chorus

After 5 years with a local group, I made the decision to try out with the Toronto group who I had the chance to watch and be inspired by at our Regional contests. Their level of performance, choice of music and fantastic choreography had me spellbound every time I saw them. So, in May of 1987, I made the move to North Metro Chorus where I am to this day 30 years later.

Director June Dale Always Led Us to Victory

June Dale has directed this chorus from its beginning with only 17 members to a peak of 185 members. She has led us to win every Regional Contest I have ever been in with North Metro which qualifies us to compete at the International level.  These international contests have fulfilled another of my passions, travel; as they are held in various US cities including Waikiki, Hawaii. When we placed first in 1996, we were the first chorus outside the USA to bring the gold medal home.  We now have 4 International gold medals to go along with many other top 5 medal placings.

We have been Walt Disney Newsies, chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins, Oklahoma, Sailors, Miners, Martians and Toy Soldiers, just to name a few or our themed packages. June continued to expand her talents over the years and became a Master Director, a certified music arranger, coach, International faculty member and a true visionary. Together with her daughters – Erin who created all our award winning choreography and Lynn who created our incredible costumes – this team was a true winning combination.

Passing of the Torch to Erin Howden

This past Regional, we had the opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of our incredible leader as she has decided to step down from directing us in competition and pass the torch over to her daughter Erin Howden. It was a weekend of emotional celebrations. There was a strong outpouring of love and respect shared from everyone in attendance including our International Judges who were present. I got another chance to reflect on how much this hobby has added to my life over the years. It makes the weekly travel, hours of learning, the cost of our dues and travel a small price in exchange for the lifelong friendships, transferable skills, numerous life experiences and the rush of creating the most beautiful harmony that changes the lives of ourselves and audiences alike.

It is an organization that welcomes novice singers of all ages to come together and create a professional level performance. I am as excited about the journey today as I was 35 years ago.   I can’t imagine my life without it!  Here is a link for a YouTube clip of our last International performance.  We have a show planned for this September 16th to perform the package we will take to international Competition in Las Vegas in October.   If you are interested in learning more, check us out here.

I would love to hear about your hobbies and how they add richness to your life.

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In harmony,

Karen

Acknowledging Your Own Greatness – I Am Awesome!

I am awesome! Yes – I just wrote that statement, a humble Canadian!  It has taken a lot of practice, let me tell you.  It appears that we Canadians have a reputation for not being able to acknowledge our greatness – we are just fantastic at acknowledging other peoples greatness!  You see, the real eye opener took place about 3 weeks ago when I was at chorus rehearsal.  It was the week before leaving for our International competition in Denver, Colorado and we were tweaking our performance package with the unbelievably amazing Erin Howden, our choreographer.  Half way through the night after almost standing on her head to get a point across about how much we needed to transcend the footlights with our expression and energy – she asked us to do a little exercise.

She asked each of us to turn to the chorus members standing around us and tell them how awesome they were.  Well – that was effortless, it came with complete sincerity and lots of energy.  Once we calmed down she said, ok, now turn to the chorus members around you and tell them how awesome you are!  Oh my goodness – that was a whole different ball game.  It did not flow effortlessly or with sincerity or lots of energy…in fact it was rather awkward!  I even witnessed a fellow chorus member stick her finger in her mouth and make a gagging motion after she said this to her riser buddy.  We obviously had some work to do.  Did it mean we didn’t think we were good enough to go after the Gold medal in Denver?  No it didn’t.  However it might have impacted how our attitude would come across on stage.  It was not a time and place to be “nice polite Canadians”!   So the next part of the exercise (because it was not over yet)….was to imagine we were one of our Sweet Adeline idles and once we took on the persona of how we believed they would handle this situation – we again approached the riser gals around us and shared the message with them that we in fact were Awesome!!  It worked!  And you can bet that that became an exercise we did every practice until we stood on International stage to perform our package.  And you know what?  It really did get easier and I would say that something shifted because along with all the other preparations we did, our time on stage for the semi-finals was incredible and we came off feeling like we executed our plan!

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