Singing together has California Note Catchers staying together

0
111
WEBSingers.jpg

Singing together has a way of bringing people closer, as the California Note Catchers well know. The women’s barbershop chorus unites in precise harmony, even as they practice every Monday evening in the Social Hall of La Mesa United Methodist Church.

Anita Reith, a member of the chorus for 14 years, keeps coming back to sing in the chorus because it’s a healthy thing for her to do. “It’s good for my whole body to sing,” she said.

Singing together has a way of bringing people closer, as the California Note Catchers well know. The women’s barbershop chorus unites in precise harmony, even as they practice every Monday evening in the Social Hall of La Mesa United Methodist Church.

Anita Reith, a member of the chorus for 14 years, keeps coming back to sing in the chorus because it’s a healthy thing for her to do. “It’s good for my whole body to sing,” she said.

Vice President Karen Hasma has been a member of the chorus since it was first chartered 20 years ago. She had seen a small advertisement about the chorus in Christian Times Magazine. 

“The difference with this chorus is you really have to be on pitch,” said Hasma, who was voted Barbershopper of the Year 1998-1999.

Barbershop harmony singing is, in fact, quite distinct from typical chorus styles.  

Becky Combest, a professional singer, says the CNC is the most challenging choral group in which she has participated. 

“Singing chords with other people is completely different than with just me and my guitar. Chords have to blend and everybody has to hit the right note or you don’t get the right chord,” Combest explained. 

In place of the typical soprano and alto, tenor and bass format, in barbershop the tenor takes the high part. The lead, good for the average voice, is where the melody lives. The baritone is pure harmony; the bass, also a harmony, is the second melody part. The four parts must harmonize all together, creating the specific barbershop sound. 

But new singers should not be afraid to come in and give it a try, said Director Randy Parrish-Bell.

The California Note Catchers welcomes women from the community to come in for the evening of September 21 and sing with them. If they stay in the group, they can perform along with the regular members in a holiday concert on December 6. The women will educate the newbies and do everything they can to ensure success for them. In fact, many of the women who walked in for a community sing had never performed or even sung in a chorus before, but now they are some of the Note Catcher’s top singers.

“As director, my goal is to have smart singers and for them to think through things themselves. The ladies work very hard on technique. The things that they work on in chorus follow through in life, like being able to project and being in front of people,” Parrish-Bell said.

Newcomers attend for a minimum of three times before they are invited to audition for the group. They will take a piece of music and learn their parts and then sing within a quartet for the group. What the group will be listening for in the beginning is not perfection, but to help the new singers become better and more comfortable

New singers are brought in every year in this way. 

“The chorus really empowers women through music and the camaraderie you find here. Music has a way of bringing people together. 

“It affects the entire being—body, soul and brain. It’s a communication unlike any other form that will get to the emotional state of a person,” Parrish-Bell said.

One of the imperatives given the ladies as they rehearse is that they emote, to demonstrate the emotional quality of the songs they are singing.

“The audience needs to believe that you agree with the words you are singing,” Parrish-Bell said. 

Another important ingredient to barbershop harmony is showmanship. “Barbershop tells a story. We want to be able to bring our audiences with us in the story we are telling,” she explained.

Reith summed up the California Note Catchers’ experience. “I am good for the chorus and the chorus is good for me,” she said.

Any and all women interested in performing with California Note Catchers are welcome to come join in the singing on September 21 from 7 to 8 p.m. La Mesa United Methodist Church is located at 4690 Palm Avenue in La Mesa. For more information, go to www.californianotecatchers.com.