Monday, March 26, 2007

Chorus members emote about '07 contest

Piney Hills Harmony President Judy Sisson sent an e-mail to chorus members Sunday night after we returned home from regional competition in Richardson (Dallas), Texas. It certainly prompted an outpouring of emotion from the chorus. With each writer's permission, here are both Judy's original e-mail and the responses so far. I anticipate more to come -- and we'll also be posting photos from the weekend.

-- The PHH Blogger

To all you sweet, wonderful ladies of PHHC,

Competition weekend 2007 has come and now gone, and what a weekend it was. For some of us, it was experiencing Region 25 for the first time. Now, you know why we are the BEST region there is in Sweet Adelines International. You've seen a few of the best quartets, and choruses in the entire world, right here in our neighborhood. You've met new friends and sisters, shared comments on the elevators and in the hallways, Harmony Bazaar, and just about anywhere around the hotel. We've laughed, cried, and made some unforgettable memories, especially those of us that stepped out on that stage for the first time, in one way or another.

I, personally, want to thank all of you for any part you had in making this weekend so special for all of us. Thanks to anyone that worked our booth, especially Donna and Carol for taking care of getting the merchandise and hauling it to Richardson. The shirts were GREAT and a big hit! Thank you, too, for the support and encouragement you have given to Sweet Harmony and Masquerade (quartets). We HEARD you!!! You made our time on stage much more bearable.

If you will, please take a few moments to share with all of us your thoughts and feelings about this past weekend. I think it will be fun to see what everyone says about it.

I love each of you and enjoyed the weekend tremendously!

Hugs and harmony,
Judy Sisson
AMEN, Judy! I had an awesome time this weekend! You ladies are the best in the world to be with. Your talent is inspiring and unbelievable, and it is truly a privilege to sing with you each week. We are great, and we're only going to become greater in the future because of our talent and because of the wonderful dedication and excellence of our director, Wanda. Thank you for your wonderful support of Masquerade. (I heard you screaming, and it helped SO much!) I had a BLAST, and I can't WAIT for Summer Music Camp!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love you all!
Well, I wrote a long note last night but seems it has disappeared in cyber world, so, I’ll give it a shorter version this time. What a great weekend it was for all of us. I think my favorite part (other than not fainting on stage with the quartet!! Ha) was seeing all the wonderful faces and hearing the explanation of what they saw at the show Saturday night. It was so good to see all the new ladies enjoying themselves and understanding now my vision for our chorus. Seeing the energy on stage and how much movement it takes to put the music out to the audience is what we all experienced, and now we can take all that understanding and apply it to our chorus.

I love the harmony off the risers and the love and support we have of each other. So now, we are on our way to our next big project. We are planning a Christmas show on Dec. 1st this year so you can put that on your calendars. We will start learning new music next week. Some fun songs and some Christmas ones so that we will be ready when December gets here ….

I think you will all be happy with the video. We looked great and … sounded good … We are a good chorus and I am very pleased with everything …

Love you all,

P.S. Thank you for all the support you gave our quartet. You were all very encouraging to us and we appreciate it very much!!!

As this was my first chorus competition I was, putting it simply, AWESTRUCK! Having found out what "Sweet Adelines" was all about after my husband died, I have made many new 'lady' friends that I have not had in the past. Each of you are very special to me. I was NOT nervous going on stage because I felt all the wonderful support and encouragement from all of you AND I was too new to know enough to be scared. The weekend experience was indescribable! It's a 'you gotta see it to believe it' opportunity of a lifetime. If you didn't even like 'barbershop harmony,' the whole weekend would still have been a spectacular event for anyone.

I felt like a child going to Disney World for the first time: "Ooooooohhhh, look at that...…….WOW, the sound, costumes, choreography, razzle, dazzle, singing, singing, and MORE singing." I was like a wide-eyed kid in a candy store. Can we have it again next month???

I've learned so much being around all the 'seasoned' singers in our chorus and having the great opportunity to learn from Wanda and sing for her as well as myself. I wanted to make her proud to have let me be a part of the chorus. I had a blast doing a parody of Wanda and one of your competition songs. Lisa was the brains behind that little spoof, and it was all in fun. I had a great time working so closely with all the other rookies. I appreciate all of your senses of humor as I pulled pranks with the rookie rash and our redneck rendition. I was amazed at the organization of activities during the competition. I would think things would be chaotic trying to round up and herd that many people on and off stage in a timely manner. That impressed me immensely.

Words cannot describe my weekend experience. Like a sponge, I soaked up as much as I could. My eyeballs were popping out at what I heard. (No, that's not right. How can my eyes hear? Ya'll know what I mean.)

A big thanks to Wanda for helping me 'blossom' into a beginning singer. I have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but I've got my bags packed and I'm ready to go down that road I'll call "education" and be a great Sweet Adeline!

Thanks, everybody!
Hi, all my fellow singers,

It was a great weekend of fun, fellowship and singing. I cannot tell you how important this group is to me as it came at a time in my life when I was so alone and away from all family and friends, and I did not know how or what to do with myself and then I saw your article in the paper and hope sprang eternal. I really love you guys, and you really are a family of wonderful friends, each different and unique, and that is what makes it so good. Let's just keep on singing and getting better and better. I really do love ya and appreciate you taking me in.

Thanks, Piney Hills....... What a wonderful time we had in Richardson. I sat by the elevators this morning (March 25) and watched the ladies pulling their luggage and bags toward check out and cars. Each one was so precious -- some young, some older, some in great health, some struggling -- everyone so different except for their "glow." From each face radiated a glow of confidence, peace, joy that would overcome any difficulty they hurried home to face. It was like seeing a message from God -- and I thank him for you and our experiences together.
Hello, all!

I'd like to add my two cents' worth to the discussion of competition 2007....

I thought it was a great weekend! I felt better about going into this contest than I have ever felt in all my Sweet Adeline years. I knew that we knew the plan, and I also felt as if we executed it well on stage. OK, so maybe we could have done a few things a little better. But, you know, the Rich-Tones never achieve a perfect score either. (Go figure!)

I feel very good about what we have accomplished this year … We have seven great new members!!! We have more lurking in the wings. We have a great spirit of harmony and energy within the chorus. And lots and lots more people are finding out about one of the best-kept secrets in North Louisiana!

What's more, I was so proud of our two quartets that I almost didn't know what to do. To me and all the other PHH members whom I talked with -- we thought y'all sounded wonderful. Lea, you are a profile in courage ….

Being a member of Sweet Adelines and being a member of Piney Hills Harmony is about much more than pieces of gold hanging around our necks. Are those shiny things nice? Bet your bippy! Are they the be-all and end-all? No. Do we want to add another piece of jewelry to our collection in the future? Yes. Will it take work? Yes. Are we willing to do it? I hope so.

Right now, though, let's bask in the glory of having competed with our largest number ever on stage. Let's bask in the glory of being a small chorus that had *two* marvelous quartets competing, also for the first time. Let's bask in the glory that our director is being singled out by the organization for her skills.

It's enough to make me want to break out into a Chica cheer! And light up those little glow-stick-thingies that Mary and Jerri gave us.

Guess I'll settle for: Go, PHH! I love you!
Sallie Rose
Sallie, You said EXACTLY the words I was going to say! Ditto, ditto and ditto! Really, I had the best time ever at competition. Yes, the music was a part of it, but our group of wonderful ladies was the best part. (What about those Rocking Rookies--I love them!) I felt joy creeping back into my heart -- and it's still here today. I love this chorus so much -- you have been so caring and loving to me. Who needs to PAY for therapy when you get it for free in this sweet group!

I love you all!
... Our quartets sounded a lot better than others. Of course, I could be prejudiced. I don't know how we (the chorus) sounded, but we gave it our best....
Hey, Sisters in Harmony,

You all have eloquently described your Competition 2007 experience with total LOVE. I agree with all of you: IT WAS A DYNAMIC WEEKEND, and we done ourselves proud!! This was my third year to the stage and I, like everyone else, felt like it was the most confident year I have had. We knew our plan and we worked it out and it was smooooooooth!! Actually, grrrreat! I love our contest set better than any music we have sung before … And we, a little ole' chorus with not one, but two very talented quartets, stuck out in the piney hills with 29 singers, know how to entertain!!!


With the inclusion of our newest sisters, we have developed a strong, rounded sound and a very good balance. We will only get BETTER.

Wanda, you're a terrific director, and we have gone far and will go further. Thanks to you for all you do and for all your hard work to get us where we are and to everyone for all the memories of this past weekend -- and by the looks on the 'newbies' faces, which I checked often, it was an AWESOME WEEKEND!!!

Our quartets did a fantastic job. I would have crumbled into a heap of whole curd cottage cheese, had I had to sing in a group with only 4 people....omigosh...I commend you for your bravery and for your talent to do it.

OK, I'll hush up for now, but, only for now (heehee). Now, I'm gearing up for Summer Camp, too, and can hardly wait for that to happen. Everyone have a wonderful week, and I'll see you Thursday.

Hugs 'n Harmony,

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What a great send-off!

Hello, all,

Just a quick hello and "God speed" as chorus members and supporters begin our trek to Dallas tomorrow for regional competition.

Our Friends and Family Night last night went great! We had between 70 and 80 attendees, and with the chorus included, we ended up with 100 or more barbershop devotees in the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church of Ruston. (Pix to come as we were preparing for the event.)

Another big thanks to Tricia for ramrodding the refreshments -- and to all who helped her. (The PHH Blogger took a respite and didn't volunteer for duty this time. Sorry!)

And to our supporters who turned out for our special "Night": Thank you so much! It was the perfect send-off. We hope to do you and North Louisiana proud.

Lea, if you're reading this: We love you! We hope to see you in Dallas, but if not, we know that you'll be there in spirit. Our prayers are still ascending for you!

Guess we'll catch you on the flip side when we return from a weekend of harmony. Break a lip ... or break a lash, as I just read the other day.

Hugs & Harmony,
The PHH Blogger

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Piney Hills Harmony's two newest members

As we prepare for Family and Friends Night 2007 -- and also our regional competition -- we are proud to post photos of our two newest members. Shown above are Faith Cooper (left) and Jennifer Patterson.

Some interesting info about Faith: She is the granddaughter of our director, Wanda McKaskle, and great-granddaughter of our treasurer, Janet Philbrook. So we now have three generations of singers in our chorus -- with an actual span of four generations. Those Union Parishers do love their singing! (Note: The PHH Blogger has Union Parish "sangin'" roots, too. That's how some of my elders pronounced it in Rocky Branch!)

A hearty Piney Hills Harmony welcome to both Faith and Jennifer! We're so pleased to count you among our Sisters in Song!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Piney Hills Harmony offers Friends & Family Night

Piney Hills Harmony chorus will present a Friends and Family Night at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, as members hold their dress rehearsal in preparation for regional competition in Dallas. The Sweet Adelines chorus will take its biggest delegation ever to the contest.

Friends and Family Night will include performances of the chorus' two-song competition set as well as other numbers from its repertoire. Additionally, for the first time, two quartets from within the group are competing regionally and will perform their songs.

Admission is free, and all are welcome. The event will be held in the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church of Ruston, 212 N. Bonner.

New members experiencing their first regional competition with Piney Hills Harmony are Faith Cooper, Dubach; Karen Downs, Monroe; Jean Dunham, West Monroe; Frances Grafton, Ruston; Ginger Hicks, West Monroe; Lisa Holmes, Homer; Jennifer Patterson, Ruston; and Tricia Strickland, Ruston.

Quartets competing are: Masquerade – Mary Jo Brister, Quitman; Wanda McKaskle, Bernice; Sue Moore, Calhoun; and Sheila Stepp Ruston. Sweet Harmony – Donna Fike, Carol Ogle and Judy Sisson, all of Monroe; and Lea Rutherford, West Monroe.

Eighteen choruses and 21 quartets are scheduled to compete. Region 25 includes Arkansas, Oklahoma and parts of Louisiana, Missouri and Texas.

Piney Hills Harmony claimed gold with a first-place small chorus win in 2004.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ladies, start your prep: It's time for competition breakfast again

One of the ladies in charge of our competition breakfast this year (I won't mention names, but her initials are J.M.) asked me to post this pic to the blog. The hope, I'm sure, is that it will inspire us to greatness for our 2007 PHH breakfast at our regional competition that is upcoming in Dallas.

Let me interject here that the competition breakfast is an internal event, meaning that it's attended only by PHH members -- although we do have to walk down hotel hallways and ride hotel elevators to get to the room where our breakfast is held.

Some of the personalities who appeared at the 2006 breakfast are (above, from left) Mae West (aka Sheila S.), Marilyn Monroe (aka Judy St.) and Edith Bunker (aka Marcia S.). As the PHH Blogger recollects, when Sheila got into the elevator on her ride to the breakfast site, a male hotel guest asked her, "Are you supposed to be Mae West?" Hopefully, that made it all worthwhile!

Again, J.M. (whoever she may be) encourages PHH'ers to dress appropriately for our '07 Grunge Breakfast and also to submit to her (again, whoever she is) the name of your "act" if you intend to perform at said breakfast.

Ladies, start your engines!

-- The PHH Blogger

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