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When I was young I went to an all girls’ high school where I used to be enthralled by the beautiful voices of the girls in our school choir. They were fortunate to be directed by a music tutor well versed in the art of a cappella singing, and I was fascinated when their harmonies produced an affect as powerful as listening to a small orchestra with nary an instrument in sight. I’ve remained a fan of a cappella performances ever since, so I was thrilled last month when I was given the opportunity to attend Coastal a Cappella’s “That’s Life” concert at the Impact Centre in Erina – a fundraising performance supporting respite carers from “Life Without Barriers”.
Coastal a Cappella are an all-women’s chorus based at Erina who practice four part harmony group singing in a range of styles that include pop, jazz and barbershop. They perform at various events and functions all over the Coast, in Sydney, and in the HunterValley and they regularly compete at a national level. Among their competitive achievements, they have won the 2011 Sydney Eisteddfod Show Choir championship and the Small Chorus competition for Sweet Adelines Australia in 2010.
It was my first visit to the Impact Centre and I was impressed by the modern, spacious and functional facility. It was an attractive space in which to watch and listen to Coastal a Cappella’s marvellous performance. The group made an immediate impact, all dressed in matching outfits that were smart and glitzy, and organized on stage in a visually pleasing arrangement, all of which combined to convey the impression of harmony even before they opened their mouths to sing. And when they did, their voices blended to fill the space with power and vitality. I enjoyed the range as well as the quality of a programme that included everything from traditional choral numbers like “That’s Life” and “It’s About the Climb” and jazz favourites such as “It’s a Wonderful World” and “It’s Jazz, Man” to pop hits like the Beatles’ “All My Lovin’” and Queen’s “Find Me Somebody to Love”. The women didn’t just sing; they performed with energy, enthusiasm and humour. Choreographed moves added to the performance, which they clearly thoroughly enjoyed and so, too, did the audience. The whole effect was invigorating and joyous.
The ladies were supported by the women’s barbershop quartet, Sista – last years’ silver medalists in the National Sweet Adelines Competition – who provided a more intimate experience of four part harmony with pitch perfect vocal stylings. And in addition to the musical entertainment, we were treated to the humour of HunterValley comedian, Alan Glover, whose stand up routine is known all over and Australia and at UK festivals as well. Dramatic vignettes and dance performances from grandfather and grandson team Bill and Ethan Wallace also helped to communicate the central theme of the evening: that of people from different generations and walks of life all coming together in harmony to create something beautiful, meaningful and uplifting.
Director Linda Wareham and assistant directors Tracey Connors and Candy Hoddinott are to be congratulated for their organization, their musical direction, and for compiling a programme for the concert that was thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining. I very much look forward to seeing more of these shows in the future.
Coastal a Cappella are actively seeking new members. If you enjoy singing and would like to know more about its benefits, you’ll find more information on the group’s website at http://coastalacappella.com
[Image courtesy of Natasha Whitwell on behalf of Coastal a Cappella]