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Singing together in harmony

Arbutus Sounds Chorus
Lowry Olafson (centre) with Arbutus Sounds Chorus.

Nearly five years ago, Lowry Olafson, a Gibsons performing songwriter, professional speaker and workshop leader, offered a contest to win a free songwriting workshop to write a theme song for a worthy organization. Arbutus Sounds Chorus, a local chapter of Sweet Adelines International, entered that contest telling why they felt they should win, mentioning things like their love of singing in the community, and the sisterhood and warmth of their organization. And win they did!

Olafson’s ThemeShop is a team-building experience that takes any team on an unforgettable creative journey, guiding them as they collaborate together, writing a song that celebrates that organization’s unique vision and contributions.

With Olafson’s guidance, Arbutus Sounds members explored and captured the essence of what singing in a Sweet Adelines barbershop chorus means to each of them. Thoughts were written down, words were arranged, and rearranged, Olafson put it all to a tune, and a song was born. Not just any song, but their song, entitled Together in Harmony.

Arbutus Sounds Chorus then took this song to the next level, hiring Joey Minshall, a Sweet Adelines vocal arranger from Enderby, to arrange the song in the traditional four part a capella style, common to barbershop. Minshall’s arrangements are known for their creativity and have been performed by vocal groups around the world. She did Arbutus Sounds proud in producing an outstanding arrangement, which included all the elements and nuances of a true barbershop song.

Sweet Adelines is a worldwide organization of women singers, dedicated to singing barbershop, in four-part harmony, a capella. There are so many singers in the organization that it is divided into regions. Arbutus Sounds belongs to the region that includes British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Education is an important function of Sweet Adelines, and every year choruses are coached by experienced women well versed in this genre of singing.

Much to the delight of Arbutus Sounds and Lowry Olafson, the song was selected by a Sweet Adelines International coach to be used as a learning tool at her singing education workshops across the three western provinces. Over the past three weeks, hundreds of women were singing this song in workshops held in Saskatoon, Calgary and Vancouver. The song was selected not only for its masterful arrangement by Minshall, but also for the fact that it does truly capture what Sweet Adelines are all about. And they do sing “together in harmony”!

– Submitted by Connie Johnston