A personal account by Convention newbie and Surrey Harmony Bass, Jodi Marsh.
May 2022 saw Sweet Adelines’ Region 31 all-female barbershop choruses immersing themselves into the first regional convention since 2019, held at Warwick Arts Centre at Warwick University. What an incredible weekend it was!!
Competing were twelve choruses and a range of quartets who were all enjoying the experience and education.
The moment we stepped on campus on the Friday afternoon you could feel the excitement and buzz in the air. Everyone involved was polite, encouraging of each other and just over the moon to be back singing together.
The competition on Saturday was extremely high and it was so thrilling and enjoyable to watch the different choruses, see their makeup and costumes and to hear their voices ringing around the auditorium. All other groups gave more traditional performances with their choice of songs, sparkly outfits, makeup and choreography…yes there is choreography in Barbershop singing! We, on the other hand, decided to break our mould, try something new for us, and perform more of a stage show. If you can’t push boundaries and think outside of the box after a pandemic, when can you?!
Our music team and chorus director decided upon a ‘My Fair Lady’ theme singing ‘On the Street Where you Live’ and ‘Get me to the church on time’. Convention states that groups must perform a ballad and an uptune. Our concept started with the ballad, putting ourselves on the road or street where someone we love from afar lives and the feelings of excitement and anticipation we would have just in case we saw that person. We used the uptune ‘Get me to the church…’ as the ‘henfest’ before the wedding to the person we fancied on the street. Our performance package was filled with new ideas, different more casual costumes and it was extremely colourful and fun to both participate in and watch. Everyone loved the new ideas and how brave we were to perform them and the performance judge gave us a glowing critique.
That Saturday night was most enjoyable. We sat outside the bar in a sunken garden and anyone who wanted to sing stood up and sang in a quartet to the rest of the chorus. Then we moved inside, all the choruses came together performing to each other and singing Regional songs together. The atmosphere was magical, just incredible.
The Eurovision Song Contest was on that evening making the atmosphere around campus absolutely electric especially as the UK entry played out over the giant outdoor screen whilst a huge crowd, comprising of students and visitors, watched, danced and sang.
The following day, Sunday, was filled with various different lessons; Quartet Tuitions, Management Chats, Voice Coaching and much more. Sunday afternoon was the closing ceremony and then it was time to head home.
Convention was an incredible experience and we cannot wait to do it all again next year.