Lions Gate Chorus – International Silver Medalists and Recipient of the Audience Choice Award for Most Entertaining Chorus
What an experience! And hard to believe that it is over already. It seems like just yesterday that we were learning our contest songs and making the myriad other preparations for the competition.
How can one describe the week at competition? From enjoying the local Cajun and Creole cuisine and Jazz scene to being in the audience to watch the Quartet competition, to hours of rehearsal and of course competing on stage; there was plenty of opportunity to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy everything that the Competition and host city had to offer.
Whether you were a rookie (first time at Internationals) or a veteran, the energy and excitement reached out to you and took you on a journey. Imagine walking into the hotel lobby on Chorus finals day and seeing 150 glamorously clad Swedes preparing to leave for their performance. Imagine the elevator door opens and in walks four Queen’s of Harmony, fully decked out in crowns, who smile and spontaneously sing a tag – just for you! Imagine the excitement of putting on your stage makeup, styling your hair, and putting on your costume on contest day, knowing you are only hours away from the bright stage lights and your performance.
Beyond the razzle dazzle of the competition, contest week is a time to meet new friends, forge stronger bonds with existing ones, and to appreciate the connectedness we feel with not only our own chorus and regional sisters, but with those across the world. I don’t know of any other place where you can approach a perfect stranger and strike up a conversation about where you are from and what chorus you belong to. Admittedly, that stranger is likely wearing chorus logo wear and some not so subtle glitter. So not all that unexpected!
There is no denying the thrill of the Chorus Finals call-off and the tension and excitement as the Chorus names are read; everyone hoping they will be the last ones on stage. It is hard to put in words, the feeling you have when your chorus is one of two remaining and your mind flits ever so quickly to the notion that our Impossible Dream could be coming true. But no matter the colour of the medal, no matter whether you made the top ten or you competed in Internationals at all; what matters is that we are all ‘daring greatly’ and are striving every day to do our best.
NOLA 2019 is over and is now ‘one for the books’. But the real ‘gold’ is in our commitment to our choruses and each other and the joy of singing on the risers.
Submitted by: Barbara Vonas Communications Coordinator, Lions Gate Chorus
Rhythm of the Rockies - New Orleans, what fun!
What can you say about heading to competition in New Orleans when you’re a quiet sort of person who lurks around the edge of gatherings but rarely joins them?
All I can do is give you my impressions.
My roomie and I headed out a few days early as we wanted time to do non-chorus things before the actual “competition week.” We knew very well that once our chorus sisters hit town, we’d be very busy. Rhythm, like all the other choruses, had been working very hard towards this International competition. We hoped to push our scores up a little from the last one.
First, though, we had to drink in the sunshine, glory in the heat – well, I gloried. The roommate wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about roasting. We took a graveyard tour and learned lots of things. We rode the riverboat up and down the river and marvelled at the history this city has seen. We visited the botanical gardens. We explored the shops and buildings of the French Quarter. We rode the streetcars and looked around the Garden District.
We tried the food – oh, what food! Redfish and catfish, pecans and collard greens, shrimp and grits, and everything else the South is famous for.
We went to Loyola University for their first-ever acappella festival. As it happened, they had all these barbershop choruses and quartets in town anyway, so the first festival was all barbershop. Afterwards, I asked about the strange sound coming from everywhere while we were waiting for the streetcar and learned it was cicadas. I had thought it might be tree frogs.
And we met the people. Ordinary people going about their daily business, who, with true Southern hospitality, welcomed us wherever we went, made sure we had whatever we needed, invited us to join in with the joie du vivre that makes New Orleans special. People who parade down the street with brass bands a-wailing just because it’s Wednesday.
Then the Sweet Adelines started arriving. The sisterhood that waved cheerfully if they saw us, whether they recognized us or not. They didn’t need to know us personally to be our friends. We were part of the tribe. The sisterhood that wished every single competitor “good luck” and meant it. Women who saw the chance to encourage others, and did so.
Then... Monday. Classes on all manner of subjects taught by the best in the world. Rehearsal. Harmony Bazaar for all the sparkly stuff we love so well. Tour buses outside the convention hotels from what looked like every tour operator in Louisiana being pressed into service. Tuesday, rehearsal and Harmony Classic. Stellar packages and such fun! Wednesday, rehearsal, then rush to the arena for the quartet semi-finals. We had to be there to make sure our own No Strings felt (and heard) the love. I’m told the webcast hosts made mention of the noisy Canadians at the far end of the arena.
Thursday. Oh, boy. We’re SECOND! 6am costume and makeup check, rehearsal at 7am. That’s very unusual for us; we’re almost always in the second half. On the bright side, it meant that we actually got to see all but one chorus. That’s pretty unusual for us, too.
Blink your eyes and it’s over. We filed offstage. Why does it have to zip by so FAST? How did we do? It felt good, we did our best, was it enough?
We watched the best of all the regions across the world cross the stage and they all showed the results of their own hard work. We’ve got a lot of truly talented people in this organization. And when the finals list was announced... We weren’t on it.
Ah, well. We did improve our scores, just not as much as a few other choruses did. And of course, our “big sisters” in Lions Gate were in the finals for us to cheer on.
Friday, the quartet finals and what a contest it was! Saturday: the chorus finals, the reason most of us were there. There was one delay in the traffic pattern when the buses were unable to collect a competing chorus until a parade down Canal Street finished. They had a permit for their parade; they just hadn’t let SAI know. But it wasn’t long before things were back on track again.
Parades, cicadas, pecans, catfish, voodoo shops, beignets, alligators, history on every street, welcoming people and barbershop chords with my 70-odd sisters.
It doesn’t get any better.
Submitted by: Val (Robin) Ladouceur. Rhythm of the Rockies Chorus
No Strings – 51 points!
"At first we were ho-hum about placing 27th - just like last international....but then - wait a second - our score increased 51 points from our last international appearance! 51 points!!!
Yes, we work hard, but we couldn’t have achieved what we did without the continued support (financially and emotionally ♥️) of our friends and family. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
We're already working on new material and we can’t wait to sing for you - Region 26 - in Calgary this spring!
No Strings Quartet"