By Richard Lewellen
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.
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.
Musical Director – Bella Nova