A Special Group of Women

Aug 2nd, 2012 | By | Category: Choir Events, Personal Reports, Top Post, World Choir Games

Liz Sabo Johnson, Cincinnati Sound Chorus with Georgia Southerland, Bay Area Showcase Chorus (Photo: BASC photographer)

Cincinnati Sound Chorus is a diverse group of women whose experience in singing Barbershop ranges from 5 months to 55 years. Within our Chorus is a smaller ensemble called Sound Effects who competed in the Open Barbershop Competition. Just minutes before the group went on stage a long time member of the group fell down the stairs and had to be rushed to the hospital. She is fine, however, she was unable to sing with this group and our larger chorus. In speaking with Sound Effects members, the pain they felt having to leave their friend behind was terrible. The friendships developed in a chorus are very important to the members.

Often rehearsing together for long hours, carpooling to events, competing with friends, sharing family stories and celebrating successful contests make the experience richer. Since joining the group, I have noticed how very welcoming and helpful in learning music and understanding the ins and outs of the chorus everyone has been. I think that is why I decided to audition for the chorus. I have never felt out of place or unwelcomed in the group.

A Dream Come True

Since I have not sung professionally in 24 years, I never expected to be able to sing at Music Hall. It is one of our most beautiful venues in Cincinnati. Although it seats 3,600 people it still seemed intimate and friendly.

Arriving in time to do a short warm up, we were able to hear Sothern Gateway Chorus warming up. The friendship among the choruses was amazing. Each time someone headed for the stage they left the room with well wishes from the other groups.

As we headed to the auditorium you could hear whispers of “watch the stairs” along the way. Once out on the stage the warm lights allowed us to see the audience. Hearing the audience laugh, applaud and rising to give us a standing ovation at the end was exhilarating.

Special Moments

There are special moments about the Games that I will never forget, like sitting in a workshop between a chorus from California (who were mostly Chinese) and a group from China, watching them speak to each other in Mandarin Chinese. I proceeded to e‐mail my mother about the fact that I wish I had learned Chinese when I was younger (I am actually full Chinese). In that same class the girl sitting next to me saw that I was cold and offered me her red jacket. Another event was while waiting for a workshop whose time had changed, two choruses sang for each other. Their directors’ found out that both knew the same arrangement for a Christmas song, so they sang it together.

The day that week two of the Games started, we walked in the parade from Duke Energy Center to Fountain Square. All of the choruses from the United States were waiting on one side of the large hall. One group started singing the Star Spangled Banner and all of the choruses joined in together. It was absolutely beautiful. But I think my favorite moment was when Lynn Hartmuth, our director and Holly Boyd, our manager stood on the platform to accept our silver medal. It has been an amazing 11 days.

Learning about other countries, their music and sharing Barbershop with others. Thank you for a fantastic opportunity we will never forget.

Tags: ,

5 Comments to “A Special Group of Women”

  1. Zheng danhong says:

    I’ve read the blog above and moved by the comment that the writer was offered a red jacket when she felt cold by a Chinese. I am very proud of that Chinese since I am a Chinese and have experienced the Cincinnati atmosphere myself. And I was moved by many occasions too. The most moveing one is that at a concert hall many people were in a line,waiting for the turn to the rest room, among them arised a beautiful song of Shenandoah that was the competition piece sung by our chair(Guangzhou Female Phillamonic Chamber Choir). I went nearer and made record by my recorder, Americans and Chinese were singing together and one American women was laying her arm on the Chinese women shoulder with tears in her eyes…….I’d like to shere more if I will receive a feedback.

  2. Zheng danhong says:

    It is amazing when I see people don’t speak a same language but sing a same song!

  3. Zheng danhong says:

    I am so exciting that I can still get intouch with you, the Barbershop women! I would like to remind you that in November another fantastic choral scene,1st Xinghai Prize International Choir Championships organized by the same INTERKULTUR will be opened in our town ,Guangzhou,China. If we could meet you at my hometown that will be a great moment! I and my husband who is the conductor of our choir were impressed by your performence very much, and we love everybody in your choir and the artistic genre is also the first time we got to know! This event I mentioned above will be quite different since some of our citizens have the changce to receive the foreign choir menbers to our home as their accommodation. I’m longing to greet you as my own guests!

  4. hen says:

    Thank you for your kind comments! Glad to hear that you enjoyed your experiences in Cincinnati. We’re looking foward to meeting you again in Guangzhou this year. Please share more of your stories, we can’t wait to hear them!

  5. Vivien says:

    What a wonderful experience the Games were! I don’t expect to be able to afford it, but would absolutely love to go to Latvia in 2014! The lady in Sound Effects who fell backstage is doing very well now. She is actively participating in Cincinnati Sound and Sound Effects. It was particularly scary since she was recovering from back surgery when she fell. Sound Effects performance suffered a bit, but all’s well that ends well, right? Thanks Liz for this great blog post! VC

Leave a Comment