An abundance of vocal harmonies is slated for Temple’s Cultural Activities Center on Saturday, as no fewer than three a cappella groups will perform a “genre-bending” concert headlined by the Central Texas branch of Sweet Adelines International, the Chisholm Trail Chorus.
Founded in 1982, the chorus has rehearsed weekly at the CAC for 16 years, said Carol Scherer, director of the choir since 1997. “But this is our first collaboration with CAC — they handled all the publicity — and we hope to expand our audience by tapping the CAC’s clientele.”
Sweet Adelines International, a mammoth organization with choruses located across the U.S. and in 14 foreign countries, promotes “barbershop (quartet-style) singing for women.” Each singer memorizes her part and rehearsals and performances are sung without any percussion or other musical instruments, save for the pitch-pipe briefly sounded prior to downbeat.
“We run the genre,” Scherer said, “from Broadway, spirituals, pop and special contest numbers, too.”
The Chisholm Trail Chorus competes each spring in a regional competition in Houston. “We’ve won fourth place out of 16 overall in regional and third in our division,” said Carol Mouche, publicity chair.
“We’ll choose from Beatles songs, ‘Aquarius,’ Broadway tunes like ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’ and some holiday selections,” Scherer said. “But Saturday’s show isn’t really a Christmas concert.” The 35 women in the chorus rehearse each Thursday at the CAC, some traveling from Kempner, Georgetown and Belton.
“The neat thing is that we do have a part for every woman’s voice,” Mouche said. “From high pitched to low; some women really enjoy stepping out on stage while others just enjoy singing harmony.” She cited the popular success of TV shows like “Glee,” “The Voice” and other sing-offs as a positive influence.
Scherer will be joined by the other three women who make up the Bel Canto Quartet to perform a few selections during the show, providing a more intimate soundscape of barbershop harmonies. “It’s different from church choirs,” Scherer said. “We sing everything — all genres — and each vocal part is unique, too.”
Sharing Saturday’s bill is the Ransom Notes, a co-ed group from the University of Texas. “They are the premiere a cappella choir at UT,” said Jane Boone, CAC marketing director. “They’ve recorded CDs and program lots of contemporary songs.”
Ransom Notes incorporates “beat box” elements into its performances — percussive and bass sounds that are mouth-produced. Described as “entirely student-run,” the ensemble is claims to be a “powerful musical force on the UT campus and in Austin.” The 10 to 12 students in the group are scheduled to open the second half of the show with a repertoire ranging from Adele to Marvin Gaye.
With some choreography, memorized music and “homework,” Scherer believes the choruses are empowering.
“We want each singer to cross the genres, and for each to be a winner in vocal production.”