Dundalk’s Sweet Adelines chorus is hitting a high note
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 11:25

Female chorus was founded in 1958

by Nicole L. Rodman

    Though they vary in age from 18 to 86, the women of Dundalk’s Sweet Adelines all-female chorus all have one thing in common – a passion for singing.
    Every Thursday at 7:30 p.m., the women of the Dundalk Chapter of Sweet Adelines, International, meet at the North Point Government Center to share their musical passion.

The Dundalk Sweet Adelines chorus was chartered in March 1958 for, as the group’s website notes, “the purpose of teaching members musical harmony and appreciation.”
    The chorus sings in the barbershop style, a style of unaccompanied singing in four-part harmony.             Though sung without musical accompaniment, the combination of 40 voices singing in harmony is powerful enough to fill any room.
    According to Dundalk Sweet Adelines chorus director Shirley Coffman, performing in the barbershop style offers singers a challenging yet rewarding experience.
    “When you sing barbershop, you have to listen to the ring of the chords,” Coffman explained.
    Coffman also pointed to the “large variety of music” available to barbershop choruses, noting that the group performs many types of songs, including show tunes, spirituals and old-time barbershop tunes.
    Though their love of singing has brought them together, there is an affection among group members that keeps them together.
    According to Coffman, the younger members of the chorus view older members as a type of “mother or grandmother figure,” showing concern when someone is hospitalized or falls ill.
    Coffman attributes this affection to the mutual respect that members young and old afford each other.
    It is this harmony, both musical and social, that attracts so many young women to the group.
    According to Coffman, of the 40 active members of the chorus, 12 of them are under the age of 25.
    Many of these women, part of the group’s Young Women in Harmony program for women under 25, have been with the group for at least five years, joining while still in high school.
    Two quartets made up of these younger chorus members will represent the chapter in the Rising Stars Contest at the International Young Women in Harmony Festival in Houston, Texas, in October.
    Of the older members, at least four, including chorus director Shirley Coffman, have been singing with the chorus for more than 50 years.
    For chorus members of all ages,  autumn promises to be busy, as the chapter prepares to host the region’s F.L.A.S.H. (Friendship, Laughter and Singing Harmony) conference.
    The conference, attended by choruses from Maryland, Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, will be held at the Marriott Hotel in Hunt Valley from Sept. 9 through 11.
    According to Coffman, F.L.A.S.H. will begin with  a number of workshops, hosted by “stage coaches,” professional performers who show choruses how to put on a show.
    On Saturday, Sept. 10,  at 6:30 p.m., the quartets representing the region in the international competition in Texas later this year will perform. Dundalk chapter quartets Whole Lotta Harmony and Stars of Harmony will perform.
    The show is open to the public. Tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for youth.
    Once their conference hosting duties are behind them, the Dundalk Sweet Adelines will begin preparing for their next show, a holiday performance at the Del Capri on German Hill Road on Sunday, Dec. 4.
    In the meantime, members will continue to meet at the North Point Government Center for practice every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. The group is always on the lookout for new members.
    Women who are interested in joining the chorus are welcome to attend a meeting.
    According to Hoffman, prospective new members are assigned a buddy – a veteran chorus member available to answer questions and offer assistance.
    Once they are ready, potential members must audition for a spot in the chorus. It is up to the new member to decide when they feel ready to audition for the chorus.
    For more information on the Dundalk Chapter of Sweet Adelines, International, visit www.
sweetads.com or contact membership chairman Doris Passaro at 410-
747-8032 or at dpassaro