The 2017 Bella Nova Award Winners and Board Installation

We installed our 2018-19 board today with the guiding hand and wisdom of Dr. Perry White, CEO of the Harmony Foundation. His take on leadership was so good that Richard practically tackled him to steal his written notes when he was done speaking!!



Our founding president, Christina, created a series of annual awards that are decided each year by the outgoing president. Our current president, Cat Lander, noted that she couldn’t pick just one person for each category, so she decided to award two of each!

Riser Diva — Niambi Powell Stewart and Allyn Powell

Fabulous Freshman — Alessandra Daigneault and Jennifer Bushong

Richard’s Other Wife — Teri Allred and Christina Lewellen

The Invisible Crown Award — Annie Ermlick and Melissa Hartman

Oh, and cupcakes.

The end.

New package debut!

Our hearts are full as we head back to Virginia (and surrounding states!) from a wildly successful Area 3 Contest!

We worked so hard to get our Small Fry package off the ground in time for contest. We completed Round 1 (of 5…insert evil laugh) of our choreography plan and we donned our snazzy new outfits! Little Girl is so fun to sing and we know there is tons of potential with this package. We can’t wait to get working on the fantastic feedback from the judging panel.

We are proud of our second place finish…and a big shout out to newbies Nancy, Amanda, Sandy, and Martha!

Stay tuned!! In the meantime, here are some fun pics!

A huge thanks to all the volunteers who make the Area 3 events so special and memorable. Congrats to our sister chorus, NFCA, for a well deserved win and Lip Service for being such graceful and talented quartet champs!

We are very, VERY proud of all our quartets for representing Bella so well. And we owe a huge thanks to our talented director, Richard!

Race and Real Talk

We were so excited to host Halo today during rehearsal so they could share with us the groundbreaking outreach efforts they’re making to have meaningful conversations about race. Through the medium of barbershop harmony, these ambassadors are encouraging community conversations about race, even when the they’re difficult conversations to have.

Shana and Niambi suggested that, like an unresolved chord progression, tension in conversations about race is a necessary part of the process. Only when the chords resolve in a barbershop arrangement do we make progress or feel satisfaction. Similarly, Halo is encouraging the use of barbershop harmony to guide conversations that can be challenging, leaning on the process of making music to offer the release and progress we have yet to accomplish in addressing racism.

This is some seriously cool stuff. Please take some time visit Halo’s website. We promise it’ll be enlightening and entertaining.

Thank you for all you do, Halo. We’re so proud of you.

It’s Show Time!

Once again, we were thrilled to share a stage with our brothers in harmony, the Fairfax Jubil-Aires. The annual show in Centreville was nearly a full house and we loved performing for such a warm audience.

Here are a few of our favorite shots of the day! We’ll add more as we get them.

Bella Leaders, 2018-19

We know that a lot of work happens behind the scenes to keep our chapter running smoothly. The Bellas listed below have stepped up to run as Board members for 2018-19 and we are so grateful for their service. In addition to being wonderful singers and performers, these women will give selflessly of their time and expertise to keep the wheels turning, and we are so grateful to them. Please join us in congratulating the newly elected leaders!

President: Cat Lander
VP Music: Annie Ermlick
VP Programs: Jennifer Bushong
VP Membership: Marielle Roberts
VP Finance: April Setlik
VP Administration: Marcie Miller
At-Large Member: Jerri White
At-Large Member: Sara Wood
At-Large Member: Carey Fagerstrom

We love you, Bella board. We are here to support you!

Appointment of Christina Lewellen as Artistic Director

By Richard Lewellen

barbershop harmony, womens chorus, Bella Nova Chorus, Harmony Inc., Northern Virginia, female choir, Sweet Adelines

Christina Lewellen, Artistic Director

The Artistic Director is appointed by and serves at the discretion of the Musical Director. Formalizing a dynamic and a role that has been filled by Christina since the founding of Bella Nova, I hereby appoint her Artistic Director.

Throughout her life, Christina has been a member of successful women’s barbershop harmony choruses and quartets. Christina shines as a visionary in the branding. She conceived the incredibly potent brand of Epic, 2012 International Quartet Champions of Harmony, Inc. Epic won on their first outing in large part due to Christina’s branding, which included song selection, costuming, choreography/performance, and vocal style.

Christina brought this skill set to the launch of Bella Nova. Throughout our journey Christina has been developing our brand that has two key components: (1) we are strong women who love and support one another, and (2) we are an intergenerational chorus that welcomes and celebrates families singing together. Ultimately, we have created our Bella Nova family.

Some history…

Christina served as our first president and was instrumental in selecting our first competition music. Jerri White developed the core choreography to our first competition uptune, “Nobody’s Sweetheart Now.”

Following our first year of competition Christina lead the modifications to “Sweetheart” and chose “Secondhand White Baby Grand” as our ballad. With this package Bella Nova earned a 5th place medal in its first International competition.

In our first competition package “Baby Mine” spoke to our love of family but also spoke to our backstory. Christina and I met because of a performance of my Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) International medalist quartet, Riptide. Within a year Christina and I were married and at our first men’s International as a married couple Riptide sang “Baby Mine.” Riptide was very focused on family and the birth of a set of twins for our tenor and a set of triplets for our lead (all of these babies were boys) was shared by the BHS. At this particular International Christina was pregnant with our first daughter, Morgan.

Bella Nova’s next competition ballad was “From the First Hello to the Last Goodbye.” In it we told the story of our chorus, including the central element that we were saying goodbye to a dear friend and chorus member as she moved away. Christina conceived of our “Fit As A Fiddle/For Me and My Guy” uptune to tell the Christina and Richard love story. Rather than being an indulgence, this choice was in recognition that Christina and I were well-known and that our role in the founding of Bella Nova was a story to share. With our strongest chorus to date this package earned 6th place at International.

Christina refined the presentation of “Fiddle” and choose “If I Had My Way” to complete the “Lewellen” story. Christina was introduced as the bride in “Fiddle” and continued in that role as BN became a “greek chorus” to support her portrayal of her fears and hopes as a woman embarking on a new stage in her life. An important subtext was that we all had found a new family in Bella Nova and that we had great hopes for sharing our music and growing our BN family into the future, past this “founding” stage of our story.

During the development and refinement of this package Christina found additional members of BN who had performance talents to share. Adding to Jerri’s foundational training of a great many brand new barbershop harmony singers, Annie Ermlick and Teri Allred bring their years of theatre and musical comedy experience to enhance Bella Nova’s performance skills. They will continue to work with Christina in her formal role of Artistic Director in the realization of Christina’s vision for our next competition package, “Small Fry” and “The Little Girl.”

We are grateful to Jerri, Teri and Annie for their support of Christina’s vision for Bella Nova and for all they’ve done to help grow the performance skills of each singer.

Please join me in formally recognizing and celebrating our Artistic Director, Christina Lewellen.

Richard Lewellen

Musical Director – Bella Nova

2017 IC&C = 4th place and lots of happiness!

Our exciting adventure to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, culminated with 4th place bronze medals… an outcome that was beyond thrilling for the Bella Nova sisters. We welcomed our FOURTH class to the Bella Nova history books and can’t wait to tackle the year ahead!

2017 BNC classes

A huge welcome to Class IV, Betsy, Alessandra, Jennifer, Sarah, and Dawn! We love you ladies and we couldn’t have done it without you.

A big shout out to our chapter quartets, Relative Pitch and Mystic Chicks, for making us proud with Top 20 finishes!

Counting down the days until Orlando!

2017 Annual Show with our brothers in harmony

Earlier this month, we were THRILLED to have another chance to take the stage with our brothers in harmony, the Fairfax Jubil-Aires. For the last few years, we’ve teamed up to share the stage with the guys and present the residents of Northern VA with some awesome barbershop!

We were excited to debut our two newest quartets, Relative Pitch and Mystic Chicks. And our longer standing quartet, ReVoiced, also debuted its new bass! A stunning showing all around!

There were many magical moments throughout the weekend, but nothing compares to those blissful moments we spent on the stage with our director, Richard. In both the afternoon and evening shows, there were highlights of our sets that demonstrated the very best that the Bella Nova sisterhood has to offer.

Great news–we’ll have video to share soon!!!

For now, some pics of our awesome quartets!

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2017 Installation Banquet

44339We’re a new enough chapter that we never take for granted the fact that we’ve made it to another annual installation banquet. We had our first one last year and yesterday repeated the evolving tradition.

This year’s theme: Music is Timeless! Those who really got into the swing of things dressed in “period” clothing! Best dressed most definitely goes to Marcie for showing up with her groovy 70s outfit!

Welcome to our new board!

Barbershop Harmony Society Executive VP Dick Powell offered some powerful and inspiring words, stressing how Bella Nova continues to build a legacy. With love, support, and energy, he installed the 2017 Board of Directors:


  • President: Cat Lander
  • VP Music: Kris Adams
  • VP Membership: Marielle Roberts
  • VP Admin: Melissa Hartman
  • VP Finance: Judy Rector
  • VP Events: Jerri White
  • Member At Large: Erin Cassidy-Whong
  • Member At Large: Tricia Pentz
  • Member At Large: April Setlik

2016 Chapter Awards

Outgoing president Susan Shields presented Bella Nova’s annual awards to women she feels captures the essence of each category.

2017-04-02 17.49.21Riser Diva: Marcie Miller

The Riser Diva award is to recognize the member who epitomizes a core contributor from the Bella Nova risers. This member is always prepared, brings a positive attitude to the risers, and represents the type of singer we aim to attract to our risers. She is often a quiet contributor who gets the job done—and not just vocally. She exudes the type of work ethic and consistent performance to which we should all aspire.

2017-04-02 17.50.48Richard’s Other Wife: Cat Lander

Our esteemed Bella Nova director is only as good as the strong women who stand behind him. This member has provided above-and-beyond support to Richard throughout the year, enabling him to bring his best skills and most positive energy to the membership at large. She represents all of Bella Nova by supporting him behind the scenes in ways not often recognized. She positions him for success. In this way, she positions the entire chorus for success.

2017-04-02 17.51.51Fabulous Freshman: April Setlik

Consider this Bella Nova’s “rookie of the year” award. She may be new to barbershop, or just new to the Bella Nova risers, but she has already made a noticeable impact on the chapter. She was quick to fit into the Bella Nova culture and her energy is contagious enough to make us all feel like brand new members. We can’t image our chorus without her and, in a nutshell, we are better because she decided to become a member.


2017-04-02 17.53.17The Invisible Crown Award: Debbie Parmerter

Representing Bella Nova’s highest annual honor, the Invisible Crown award is presented to the member whose name deserves to be etched into Bella Nova’s history books for her selfless contributions, unwavering support of the Bella Nova culture, and the positive energy she pours into the growth of our chorus. No matter what the task at hand or the challenge our sisterhood faces, this member adjusts her “invisible crown” and takes care of business. She is the spirit and heart of Bella Nova—and for that we recognize her as chapter royalty.

Fun For All!

A huge thanks to our installation banquet committee for all of its hard work. We love you, Judy Rector, Kristina Adams, Annie Ermlick, and Heidi Brown! Whomever had the brilliant idea to provide us all with kazoos…. very well done! We had plenty of fun running through some repertoire songs with them.