On November 8, 2014 the Melodeers became the first chorus in Sweet Adelines International history to win the gold for a 7th time. They also took home the award for Most Entertaining Chorus. As seen in the Sweet Adelines International Pitch Pipe magazine in January 2015, here is the featured article about the 2015 International Championship Chorus:
7 Times a Charm
By Julie Kendrick
“This is a dream come true.” These were the first words our chorus director, Jim Arns, spoke to us as he stood in front of the Melodeers at our first rehearsal together in 1988. We had no idea how many times we would joyously share his sentiments in the years before and since our first Sweet Adelines International Chorus Championship in 1994.
We are often asked, “Isn’t it a lot of hard work?”
As the saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Many of our members travel long distances to rehearsals—literally, hundreds of miles each week—so the time we have together is precious. Our dedicated administrative leaders take care of business behind the scenes, using a minimum of rehearsal time. Each chorus member records her own learning tape—often every week—as interpretations, lyrics, and notes change frequently. A day or two after each rehearsal, one of our music team emails to us the changes made that week. So we are “off the paper” after two or three rehearsals. Somehow, after three hours of standing on the risers each week, most of us return home too excited to fall asleep.
Each of us is responsible for learning music and choreography. Rehearsals are conducted at the learning rate of the quickest, so many members get together in small groups between rehearsals to go over music. Before contests, every member must qualify musically and visually to be on stage. This is not punitive; assistance is readily available to those who may struggle. By “auditioning” to be part of the performing group, we express our dedication to one another—and to our audience—to give the finest performance we can.
It’s not all grind. We take our music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves very seriously. A bit of devilish humor seems to creep into each of our rehearsals. For example, we rarely schedule extra rehearsals, but because we experienced so many weather-related rehearsal cancellations prior to the Baltimore contest, the chorus met for a one-day “school.” Each voice section dressed as high-school students: jocks, geeks, cheerleaders, and delinquents.
Renée Porzel, our artistically gifted associate director and choreographer, complements the talents of our favorite music geek. Renée plans and adapts our choreography not only to enhance the music we sing, but also to reflect the personality of the Melodeers. Although Jim doesn’t yet dance like a gazelle, we have hopes that one day, Renée will prevail.
We challenge ourselves to strive for higher levels of performance, and actively seek new insights and assistance to help us reach our goals. With gratitude, we applaud our terrific coaches Betty Clipman, Tony DeRosa, and Carole Persinger!
By the way, our membership is no different from that of other choruses. We have formally trained singers and others who don’t read music; career women, home-based moms, and retirees; snowbirds and those who stay (teeth gritted) through the Chicago winters; long-time members and newbies. Our members’ ages span fifty years. We are united by the love of music.
The Melodeers live for contests, yet we encourage and support the other competitors. Jim, Renée, and several other Melodeers coach and teach seminars and workshops throughout the organization. On-site at conventions, our rehearsals are planned so we can attend every event possible and reunite with friends.
Sweet Adelines International is unique in its culture of helping women around the world thrive musically and individually—and the Melodeers are proud to represent you once again as your International Champion Chorus!