Dressed in red, singing their hearts out are the ladies of Hearts of Harmony chorus, a chapter of Sweet Adelines International.
“In our region, western Canada, there are 24 choruses, in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C.,” said Leslie Mackay, team coordinator of the chorus.
Hearts of Harmony chartered in 2003.
With around 36 members, this is Mackay’s third year as part of the Red Deer group of ladies. Mackay is also the administrative head of the chorus, and of course sings with the ladies as well.
“I like the friends that I’ve made. I’ve sung in two choruses before this one in Edmonton; Alberta Heartland Chorus and Gateway Chorus,” she said.
Originally from Edmonton, Mackay currently resides in Sundre, commuting over an hour to get to the weekly chorus practice at the Davenport Church of Christ every Monday night.
And she’s not the only one that makes the long commute.
“We have two gals that come from the Therantosh area and we have quite a few that come from Innisfail,” she said.
Once a week the ladies meet, practicing from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Mackay said they sing all across Central Alberta.
“We sing a lot for old folks in nursing homes, extended care and that kind of thing. Often we’ll do that for free.”
The cheerful group also puts on shows every couple of years, and they have one coming up Oct. 21st at Living Stones Church. Tickets are $20 and are available from any of the chorus members and at the door. The performance starts at 1:30 p.m.
The ladies sing four-part harmony barbershop style.
“It’s all a cappella, no accompaniment. We sing a lot of fairly common modern stuff. We do a song from Pitch Perfect When I’m Gone. We do some ballads as well.”
They perform at Victoria Park Seniors Residence a couple times a year, and Mackay said they always enjoy when they come to perform, always requesting them to come back.
“They’re a really good audience. They clap and clap and tell us how great we are. They’re wonderful.”
Currently, the group’s main focus is preparing for their show. One of their songs they will perform is Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell. She said not all members are learning that as they’ve had quite an extensive song list to learn, but quite a few are choosing to learn that song, so there’s early rehearsal for that one right now.
A typical practice for the ladies is first a physical warm up, led by their assistant director to get their bodies moving. This usually lasts about five to 10 minutes.
The director will then do a vocal warm up, and then off they go.
This month also marks the group’s membership drive. Mackay said they are always looking for new members.
“We have an open door policy. The membership coordinator is right on it, making people feel welcome.”
There is an audition process that takes place for those interested in trying out for the chorus.
Additionally, the group has a program where prospective members are matched with a Hearts of Harmony member who act as a mentor during those early days of learning.
Their ongoing means of bringing in new members is through their web site, www.heartsofharmony.ca.
Those interested are encouraged to drop by the ladies’ practice on Monday nights at 7 p.m. at Davenport Church of Christ.