Blue Skies Smiling at Us...Recently the east coast of Australia has been devastated by heavy rain and floods, but thankfully our members' homes escaped major damange. Unfortunately the weather impacted our plans for a weekend retreat at Tamborine Mountain from 6-7 March, due to the risk of further flooding. As much as we love Tamborine Mountain, we didn't want to become stranded there! We were grateful to secure a refund from Cedar Creek Lodges and will return at a later date.
We decided to salvage the weekend by holding a one-day 'at-home' retreat in Brisbane, and local choir Brisbane City Sounds was kind enough to lend us their risers for the day.
Our coach was Linda Wareham, who directs Coastal a Cappella and Northern Beaches Chorus in NSW. Linda was combining a few coaching visits with a 'sunny' Queensland holiday, so went to enormous lengths to drive north, trying multiple routes to avoid flood zones. And she made it!
We worked on our two competition songs that we're preparing for the upcoming Region 34 Festival in Adelaide, and then we had a group dinner and a talent show. Everyone's acts were a surprise. We heard from a recorder trio, saw a Backstreet Boys-inspired performance, enjoyed some songs played by Sharon on her steel drum, and took part in something that might be our new favourite social activity... Kerry-oke! We sang the night away thanks to Kerry's huge collection of showtunes and skilful keyboard playing! It's amazing to have such a diverse array of talents in our group.
In the end, the weather on the weekend was beautiful, but it's best not to take chances on the roads. We look forward to our next retreat in future - hopefully this time at Tamborine Mountain!
Musical Director Julie Edwards has been at the helm of Blue Sky Harmony since our formation in 2019. An important step in the journey of musical directors associated with Sweet Adelines International is obtaining their certification with by completing the Director Certification Program.
Reflections on 2021
Happy New Year! 2021 was another big year for Blue Sky Harmony. These were some of the highlights:
- We appointed Karen Magno as an Assistant Director, joining Jess Harriden and Julie Edwards on our music team
- We enjoyed several chorus social events - an afternoon tea soiree, karaoke sessions and group dinners
- We hosted Sequins and Songs - a networking and performance event for quartets in South-East Queensland (and beyond!)
- We received coaching from Linda Wareham, Vicki Dwyer and Kelly Shepard
- We competed in our first barbershop contest, placing second in our division, with the third-highest score across all divisions
- We chartered as a chorus with Sweet Adelines International! 🎉
- We were the inaugural recipients of the Lindsey Dyer Achievement Award
- We worked with Brisbane songwriters to record vocals for two new songs
- We changed rehearsal venue, from Nundah to Everton Park, and moved from Thursday night to Wednesday night rehearsals!
- We recorded a video of Solstice Carole for the Australian National Choral Association's virtual Christmas concert
- We performed at community events and private functions
- We were supported by The Lord Mayor's Community Fund to purchase sound equipment
- We were joined by eight new members! It feels like some have been with us forever, and we can't wait to get to know others better in 2022.
We've put together a photo collage (below) showing some happy moments from the past year. We wish you all the best for 2022!
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Blue Sky Harmony finished off 2021 with performances and some fun social activities. In November, we learnt a new holiday song – Solstice Carole by Kim Baryluk. We recorded a track at rehearsal and then filmed some footage to accompany it for the Australian National Choral Association’s Spirit of Song virtual Christmas concert. While filming in Teralba Park at Everton Park, we also took advantage of the goregous light to take some new photos of chorus members (including the main picture for this post).
A small group from Blue Sky Harmony brought some festive cheer to an event hosted by Brisbane's Living Heritage Network at Miegunyah House Museum. This unique event was the 'Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Soirée', and we loved performing in such a gorgeous, historic location. Shortly after this performance, we sang in a more relaxed atmosphere, thanks to karaoke night at our old local pub at Nundah. We managed to gather a bit of a fan club, and immediately decided to plan another karaoke night at a member’s house to sing in the new year!
At our final rehearsal for the year, we enjoyed watching the Spirit of Song concert, which had been released earlier in the day. We had a good laugh as we relived the filming of our own video submission, and thoroughly enjoyed the other performances by choirs across Queensland. We spotted our friends at Hervey Bay A Cappella Bay Singers, whose song was directed by our own Musical Director, Julie Edwards. They recorded their performance at their recent chorus retreat.
Honouring Local Volunteers
On 14 November, Blue Sky Harmony performed at the Everton Volunteer Awards, hosted by Tim Mander MP, State Member for Everton. These awards are presented annually to acknowledge the hard-working volunteers in our community for their work across community organisations, schools and sporting clubs.
Recording Stars and Making New Friends
Back in July, Blue Sky Harmony made the move from Nundah to Everton Park, after nearly 2 years of rehearsing in the historic Toombul Shire Hall. Not only that, we shifted rehearsal nights from Thursdays to Wednesdays – something that still confuses some of us (often we think it’s still Friday on the day after rehearsal, which leads to disappointment).
New member Clytie with Membership Coordinator Michelle - socially distanced
In September, we were finally able to see the end product of our fun night of recording at Toombuls Shire Hall, as ‘Let Us Rejoice’ was released. This uplifting, joyful celebration of music (song by Craig Allister Young and Donna Dyson, features soloist Lana Tukaroa and eight choirs from around Brisbane. Check out the video here - it'll put a smile on your face for the rest of the day! See if you can spot us in the clip. If you are able to support Upbeat Arts, you can buy the track via: craigallisteryoung.bandcamp.com.
Blue Sky Harmony Welcomes Singers to Try A Cappella
We are opening our rehearsal on Wednesday 20 October from 7–9pm to connect with people who love to sing! Whether you're an experienced singer who is looking for something fresh and new, or someone with minimal group singing experience, we welcome you to this event.
Blue Sky Harmony Joins Sweet Adelines International and Wins Award
We are thrilled to have become a chartered chorus of Sweet Adelines International on the 24th of May! In March 2020, we had sufficient members to charter after less than a year as a chorus, and were deciding whether or not to put our paperwork in before the planned Sweet Adelines Australia Regional Convention in Hobart in May 2020. Soon after, the decision was made for us, as the pandemic threw the world into a state of limbo. Although we were held up for a year in achieving our goal of chartering, we knew our chorus would persevere and thrive. This is our passion! Many of us are long-time barbershoppers, while others have recently discovered their love of this art form and have absolutely embraced it. It's wonderful to finally be official Sweet Adelines.
Blue Sky Harmony's Convention Debut
We had an amazing time at the Barbershop Harmony Australia Sunshine Region Convention on the 22nd of May, at Venue 114 in Bokarina, Sunshine Coast. This convention is run by the local branch of the Australian men's barbershop association, and Sweet Adelines International choruses (like ours) are invited along. As we haven't been able to attend a barbershop convention since 2019, all attendees were extremely excited to get together again to do what we love - perform and listen to amazing music!
Our chorus was so warmly welcomed by the local barbershop community, and we sang up a storm - both on-stage and at the afterglow (after-party, filled with spontaneous singing)! We were thrilled to not only place second in the invitational division (congratulations to first-placed Redland Rhapsody Chorus), but also achieve the third-highest score of the event, with only 12 singers on stage. We loved watching all the other choruses compete, and also enjoyed the quartet competition. Two Blue Skyers were lucky enough to cross the stage a second time, as part of Luminous Quartet. They lit up the stage and gave us goosebumps! We can't wait to see what they do next.
Fun in May
We had a fantastic few days last week with coach Linda Wareham - Musical Director of Northern Beaches Chorus and Coastal a Cappella Chorus in NSW, and member of the Sweet Adelines Australia Regional Education Faculty. Linda's visit was partially to assess us muscially as part of chartering as a Sweet Adelines chorus, and partly to help us prepare our contest package for the upcoming Barbershop Harmony Australia Sunshine Region Convention.
Welcoming New Members
At Blue Sky Harmony, we’re always looking for singers to join our ranks. Our membership process changes from time-to-time, but involves attending rehearsals for a number of weeks and learning an audition song with the chorus. There is no requirement to be able to read sheet music – we learn from a combination of sheet music and learning tracks. We seek singers who can learn their part independently and sing with good pitch accuracy, rhythm and vocal production. We are also looking for people who can perform the song with audience engagement and appropriate natural body movement.
A Great Start to 2021
Although we’ve had a couple of bumps in the road this year due to COVID-19, Blue Sky Harmony has had a fantastic 2021 so far!
Reflections on an Unusual Year
A few months ago, we weren’t sure what we’d be doing during the festive season – would we be singing in the community, like in a normal year, or would we be hiding out in our homes? Thank goodness COVID-19 stayed under control in Brisbane, allowing us to polish our seasonal repertoire and prepare for a number of performances.
Memorable Moments for Blue Sky Harmony
Earlier this month, our choir members returned to Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, where we had our retreat in March, for another memorable weekend.
In early November, Blue Sky Harmony decided to take part in the BarbershopTags.com International Tag Competition - a video entry competition sponsored by HarmonySite (which provides our website platform).
Add a Little Magic to Your Event!
It may not feel like it, but the festive season is right around the corner! Where has 2020 gone? Luckily, this is one of our favourite times of the year, when we get the opportunity to perform for a wide range of audiences and share the harmonies that we are addicted to creating!
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Re-connecting and Celebrating
In September and October, we've continued in-person rehearsals, but not without a few challenges. Due to a small outbreak of COVID-19 on the other side of Brisbane, we had to bring in a restriction on numbers attending rehearsals for a few weeks - a maximum of 10 singers were allowed in our venue. We took it in turns to have a night off, so nobody missed out on multiple rehearsals. Our members continue to be vigilant by not attending when sick, maintaining an appropriate distance from each other, using hand sanitiser, and we always keep a register of attendance.
We've also had cause to celebrate some milestones, presenting longevity pins to three talented choir members. Katrina has been a member of Sweet Adelines International for 10 years, Natalie for 15 years, and Karen has spent a whopping 20 years in choruses all over the country! Congratulations to these three fine singers on many years of creating beautiful barbershop harmonies! On the same night, we also wished our dedicated Musical Director, Julie, a very happy birthday.
August A Cappella - via Zoom!
In normal years, members of Sweet Adelines Australia are given the opportunity to attend a number of educational events throughout the year. Due to the pandemic, this year’s ‘August A Cappella’ workshop was moved online, and a number of Blue Sky Harmony members were excited to be involved – as an attendee, panel member or organiser.
Blue Sky Harmony Returns to Rehearsals
With no recent community transmission of COVID-19 in Brisbane, we decided to go back to in-person rehearsals in our regular venue on the 2nd of July. As we are a small chorus based in a very large hall, we can take appropriate precautions to minimise the risk of transferring the virus, such as sanitising hands on entry and exit, maintaining appropriate physical distance throughout the rehearsal, and keeping all doors and windows open. We are lucky that Brisbane generally has mild winters, as we would otherwise freeze!
Chorus Life During the Pandemic
Similarly to other singing groups around the world, life in Blue Sky Harmony has been significantly different throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we haven’t been able to sing together in the same room, we have continued to stay connected through online methods, and engage in additional learning opportunities. Some of our members have even taken the opportunity to participate in new musical endeavours!
- Close To You by The Carpenters
- Waltzing Matilda, performed with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for Anzac Day
- Heroes by David Bowie
- All My Trials by Norman Luboff
- Love’s in Need of Love Today by Stevie Wonder
- And So It Goes by Billy Joel, featuring the King’s Singers
- O Radiant Dawn by James MacMillan, featuring The Sixteen (video to be released)
- You’re All I Need to Get By, by Marvin Gaye, featuring The Swingles (video to be released)
- Adiemus by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins (video to be released)
Reflections on Blue Sky Harmony’s First Year
Just one year ago, a small group of singers got together for a cup of tea and a chat about an exciting idea – starting a new chorus! We shared our individual stories of the amazing things that barbershop singing had brought to our lives so far, what our goals were for the future, and what we believed we could each contribute to this project.
Sweet Adelines Australia Hosts Online Convention
Blue Sky Harmony is a prospective chorus of Sweet Adelines International – a wordwide singing organisation with more than 20 000 members. Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, our chorus was working towards performing at the Australian national convention in Hobart in mid-May. As events around the world were cancelled, we sadly had to cancel our quartet event, ‘Sequins and Songs’ (planned for 21st March) and shortly after, we realised that the convention could not proceed. It was quite a blow, after coming off the high of our amazing retreat in Maleny. We were loving our songs and excited to share our performance with the Australian barbershop community. Of course, it was not safe for mass gathering such as this, and we resigned ourselves to the fact that we would have to wait another year.
Chorus member Michelle was on the UnConvention Planning Committee, due to her role as Team Coordinator of Sweet Adelines Australia. She presented a welcome video, introduced a slideshow of the highlights from the past year (the 30th anniversary of Sweet Adelines Australia), and announced the first two inductees into the Hall of Fame. We were proud to have a member of Blue Sky Harmony so involved in this event. We were also extremely proud of two of our members, who were recognised for achieving significant longevity milestones during the opening ceremony. Jill has been a member of Sweet Adelines International for 25 years, and Karen has been a member for 20 years.
Next up we thoroughly enjoyed the quartet and chorus performances – some real highlights from past conventions, and also some original pieces created during isolation via some fancy video editing. Very impressive! Then it was time for our performance – and wow, we didn’t expect the reaction we received! So many people sent us lovely comments on the Facebook group, and commented that they were excited to see what was next for our chorus. We felt extremely welcomed into this community of singers.
After the performance sets were over, we tuned into the evening’s ‘Parade of Champions’, to watch videos of past quartet and chorus champions. Performances to aspire to. Some of us finished off the day at the Zoom afterparty. A party for nearly 100 people sounds like an odd thing to run on Zoom, but with a rotation of sing-alongs (on mute, of course), dancing, and small break-out groups to catch up with other singers, it worked really well!
UnConvention is something that we’ll remember for years to come. We truly hope that COVID-19 can be beaten with a vaccine soon, so that UnConvention doesn’t need to become a regular replacement for a real-life convention. But if we have to wait a little longer to sing on stage in front of hundreds of other barbershoppers, UnConvention will go a long way to filling some of the hole in our chorus lives and lifting our spirits.
Honing our Craft in the Mountains
We felt very lucky last weekend to spend the weekend at The Ridge at Maleny, working on our competition songs and also taking some time to connect as a chorus. Coach Glenda Lloyed travelled up from Canberra to join us in the stunning surrounds of Booroobin, and we are so appreciative of the support she continues to provide to our choir.
On Thursday 27th of February, Blue Sky Harmony had a fantastic evening performing at The Lounge, upstairs at The Royal Hotel in Nundah - one of our regular haunts! This cool live music venue features leather booths, Chesterfield couches, wood-panelled walls, and a pool table nook surrounded by beautiful framed black and white photos.
Blue Sky Harmony Music Team Attends Director Training Weekend
Last weekend was the Sweet Adelines Australia Directors' School in Sydney, which was attended by more than 100 musical directors, assistant directors and visual team leaders from all over Australia - and even some from New Zealand! The special guest faculty was Cy Wood, who has worked a an actor, producer, special events coordinator, and creative director, as well as coaching barbershop. Cy has significant experience in the area of showmanship, helping tie together the music, lyrics, singing and expression to create honest and moving performances.
Thursday Nights Well Spent!
We've had a lovely break from rehearsals since the 12th of December, but we couldn't resist the opportunity for a couple of get-togethers during our 'time off'. First, we headed to the Hamilton Hotel for their regular Thursday night karaoke night - this time with a Christmas theme! We thoroughly enjoyed watching some talented and entertaining singers hit the stage, and we even chatted to a few people about our awesome little a cappella group.
Blue Sky Harmony's first carolling season
Our chorus has thoroughly enjoyed the last few weeks - our first season of Christmas carolling! Our Festive Season Singing Workshop was a wonderful start to the holiday season, and we were proud to introduce 15 women to our style of a cappella singing during three rehearsals in November.
Sparkling Blends performs 'Santa Baby' Time for an audience sing-along!
Hanging out in the deli air con at Hawthorne Garage In amongst the crowd after our Scarborough performance
Sharing the joy of singing
Throughout November, Blue Sky Harmony was excited to welcome 15 women to a series of introductory workshops on a cappella singing. Participants came to the workshops with a range of levels of singing experience, from long-time choristers to complete newbies, and the lessons had something for everyone. Each week, we focused on a different skill area and worked on learning three festive songs.
Blue Sky Harmony in Canberra
Five members of Blue Sky Harmony travelled to Canberra to attend a special workshop by educator Steve Scott, from 22-24 November. Steve works for the Barbershop Harmony Society - the US men's barbershop organisation - as a Music Education Specialist. In this role, he oversees the development and implementation of new interactive and online learning for Harmony University, and assists in the operation of music-based curriculum at Barbershop Harmony Society education events.
The River City Clippers' Annual Concert
Blue Sky Harmony was honoured to be a guest act at the annual concert of Brisbane-based men's barbershop chorus, The RIver City Clippers (pictured above) on 27th October. This year, the Clippers took a creative idea and turned it into a wonderful themed show - Close Encounters of the Musical Kind.
Feel the festive spirit with Blue Sky Harmony
Blue Sky Harmony is proud to present our inaugural Christmas Concert on Thursday 5th December from 8pm at Toombul Shire Hall, Nundah, on Brisbane's northside.
Blue Sky Harmony is out and about!
Over the past month, we’ve had a packed schedule of amazing concerts and workshops! We attended the Vocalescence and Sound Connection combined show in August, which included an exciting Wizard of Oz-themed package. This was followed soon after by a concert hosted by the Blenders Chorus, featuring award-winning men’s barbershop quartets The Newfangled Four and Blindside.
Liliana as Henry IV Some of Blue Sky Harmony's members with The Newfangled Four quartet
Photo: Craig McDiarmid
Festive season singing workshop
Do you love to sing? Are you interested in learning more about harmony singing and vocal production? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a star of the stage? If the answer to any of these questions is 'YES!', then we invite you to join us for a fabulous festive season singing workshop!
Blue Sky Harmony Embraces Learning Opportunities
August has been an action-packed month so far for Blue Sky Harmony, and we're less than two weeks in! Last Thursday night we were thrilled to spend a night being coached by Glenda Lloyd in our new rehearsal venue - Toombul Shire Hall. Glenda is Master Director of Brindabella Chorus, a Sweet Adelines Australia Regional Education Faculty member, and also an arranger, songwriter, and medallist quartet singer (bass in Debacle Quartet). Although we are a small choir, we sounded five times the size by the end of rehearsal, and were singing with joy and freedom. We celebrated with a drink after rehearsal, and enjoyed a chat with one of our favourite coaches.
Blue Sky Harmony at August A Cappella Coaching with Glenda Lloyd (Glenda pictured centre)
Welcome To Our New Website!
Thanks for stopping by to learn more about Blue Sky Harmony. Although we are one of Brisbane's newest performance ensembles, our members have been singing together for many years. In our midst we have seasoned a cappella singers, educators, facilitators, and musicians.