The Grand Harmony a cappella choir is capping off a very successful year with their annual Christmas concert this Sunday in St. Agatha.
In May, the 40-member all-women’s chorus took home two awards at this year’s competition of the Sweet Adelines’ Border Lakes Region 2. Grand Harmony was named both the most improved chorus as well as the overall champion of the 20 Region 2 choirs located in Ontario and Michigan.
The choir will compete on the international stage in Kentucky next year.
“We’re 27 years old and we’ve had members with us… over 25 years and they have not been on the international stage, so we’re quite excited,” said Grand Harmony’s Jane Stoltz.
As an a cappella chorus, the group sings without musical accompaniment or books to refer to, Stoltz explained. All the music Grand Harmony performs is memorized.
“It’s in four-part harmony, so we have at the top your tenors, which are your angelic voices, then our leads, which usually carry the melody, and our basses are the undertones – I guess they are the drum, keeping the rhythm – and our baritones fill in the middle. It’s quite remarkable. The beauty of our human voice and how it can make a cappella music,” she said.
The chorus acts as an important space for women singers in the region, Stoltz added.
“We’re constantly learning new pieces of music. It’s a great stress release. And you build lots of friendships. There’s lots of educational workshops throughout our region. The chorus gives us the opportunity to take on leadership responsibilities…and I think it’s more than just to be able to sing in four-part harmony,” she added.
Grand Harmony also features quartets of different singers in the group who perform separately.
“Key of She is one of them. And as well as Rezonation, consisting of four. New this year is Vocal Vitality – we are a group of eight individuals and with eight we can switch our parts around. There’s a lot of flexibility when we have more in a small group,” Stoltz explained.
The chorus performs a wide variety of music, including jazz, contemporary a cappella, pop, and show tunes. They have performed covers of songs by artists such as Adele, John Lennon, Tom Cochrane, Cyndi Lauper, Bonnie Tyler, Barenaked Ladies and Celine Dion.
Grand Harmony is directed by Andrew Carolan, who joined the chorus last year.
“He has a wealth of barbershop [music] education. We have learned so much from Andrew, and he was the one that helped us achieve our goal of winning to become Region 2 champions,” Stoltz said.
They also strive to be active in the community and provide performances throughout Waterloo Region, including last week’s tree lighting in St. Jacobs.
The upcoming Christmas show will feature the Grand Harmony’s take on classic Christmas songs.
“It is just an afternoon to listen to some beautiful voices in four-part harmony, a cappella style, singing Christmas classic songs all throughout the afternoon for our guests. It’s going to be a very delightful and entertaining concert. It’s going to be a cappella sounds from the beginning until the end of the show.
The Dear Santa Christmas concert is at 3 p.m. at the St. Agatha Community Centre. It will feature a guest performance by the KW Mixology A Cappella Chorus. There will also be a raffle of several gift baskets including a wine basket, a spa basket, coffee basket, a kid’s hockey basket and golf fitness basket. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by visiting the Grand Harmony Chorus page at www.eventbrite.ca.