In a recent Time online article, group singing scientifically was “proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins” (Time, 2013). The article looked at various studies and groups that each listed the various benefits to group singing. However, in the Sacramento, California area, one would not have to have read the article to see these benefits. All they would have to do is show up at 6:30 (for a 6:45 start) on a Wednesday night to the Developmental Disabilities Service Organization (DDSO) Multipurpose Room at 2331 St. Marks Way Sacramento, CA 95864. There they will see and hear the Sacramento Valley Chorus singing and working on choreography.
The chorus is a ninety plus all women’s barbershop chorus that is a part of Sweet Adelines International. Sweet Adelines International is a women’s musical organization whose goal is to advance the barbershop musical form. They do advance it in a very spectacular style via choruses and quartets (that are within choruses). There are over 500 choruses and 1200 quartets throughout the world. Each year, SAI has an international competition in which the top 30-40 choruses and 40 quartets perform to be crowned champion. However their main goal is to advance barbershop music and bring women together.
At the local level in Sacramento, you see this unity. Members greet each other with hugs and big smiles as they begin to set up the room for rehearsal. The risers that they stand on are put together by a small group and others begin what they call early choreo. Early choreo is for those members who come before rehearsal officially begins. They work on the choreography for a particular song that they will be performing as part of their annual show, their holiday show or in competition. As the start time approaches, one feels the joy that the ladies have of singing and sharing their love of singing. Some relate their stories about how the chorus is their “me” time.
When rehearsals starts, the ladies go through a set of vocal and physical exercises to warm their voices and bodies up. It’s very upbeat, light and fun. Then the rehearsal kicks in and the ladies go over what they will be performing next. As the rehearsal went on, one could only feel the positive mood that the ladies had as they went through the songs. Any issues that may have been happening wouldn’t have not been known due to the smiles and laughter being shared throughout the rehearsal. During my visit with them, they were preparing for their annual show, which happens in October or November each year.
This year’s show was titled “A New York State of Mind.” It was a tribute to their once in a lifetime performance at Carnegie
Hall in New York which happened back in May. The ladies were also still celebrating their placing second at their regional competition in April and scoring the highest score that the chorus has ever had. The show had pieces that they performed at competition, pieces inspired by Broadway and speaking portions that were based off of various members’ experiences in New York. The show was very entertaining. As a viewer, you got a very good sense as to the excitement and energy the chorus had about their trip to New York. It was very exciting and enjoyable to watch. Other show attendees reflected similar sentiment. Dick Frantzreb of the Sacramento Choral Calendar had high praise for the show.
The ladies throughout the entire time of our visit (the rehearsals and the shows) spoke about their love for the music and singing. It was truly an inspirational moment hearing the members talk about their passion for barbershop and the sisterhood that the chorus has brought them. Each also expressed their hope for the growth of barbershop and their sisterhood.
For more information on the chorus you can go to their website www.sacramentovalleychorus.com or their Facebook page www.facebook.com/SacValleyChorus