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.


We have some awesome news!!! Bella Nova has been invited to participate in the 2017 Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival. This must-attend event is always the highlight of the a cappella year in the Mid-Atlantic Region and we are THRILLED to be sending a Bella Nova contingent to represent our harmonic sisterhood.


Representing Bella Nova is Erin, Rachael, Tricia, Allyn, Kris, Morgan, Kate, and Cat. These beautiful ladies are a stunning representation of the Bella Nova family and we’re grateful that they’re taking our contemporary approach to  barbershop harmony to the Harmony Sweepstakes event.

Just the Facts

Fun fact: Kris has participated in two Harmony Sweeps events before with Epic… but this time she’ll be laying down the bass notes rather then playing “blending ninja” baritone like she does with Epic!

Another fun fact: Our youngest Bella Nova participant is Morgan, who hits the Harmony Sweeps stage at just 13 years old.

A final fun fact: We’re not gonna tell you who is the oldest Bella Nova representative, because we don’t age in our chorus. Ever. Somehow, we’re all magically stuck at 29 years old…

Tickets are Elusive!

The Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival is a hot ticket!

Saturday, February 25, 7:30 p.m.

Hosted in the historic Birchmere Theater in Alexandria, space is limited and tickets are always at a premium. If you’re thinking about attending, do yourself a favor and grab your seat soon! The show always sells out.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

We hope to see you there. Bring some Bella Nova pride and enjoy the best a cappella music in the region!

Bella Nova Founder Named International President of Harmony, Inc.


Contact: Roxanne Powell, Director of Communications, Harmony, Inc.



Christina Lewellen Appointed to Serve as President of Barbershop Harmony Organization

Christina Lewellen

Christina Lewellen

ASHBURN, VA, OCTOBER 1, 2016 — Harmony, Incorporated, an international organization of female a cappella singers specializing in the barbershop harmony style, has announced that Christina Lewellen has been named International President. The Winchester, Va., previously served as VP Education and Director of Communications on the International Board of Directors, a leadership body elected to represent Harmony, Inc.’s membership on a wide range of business matters and issues.

“This an exciting time in Harmony Inc.’s history, which spans more than five decades,” says Lewellen. “We rely heavily on the talents and expertise of our volunteer leadership to thrive as an organization, and I’m honored to be leading the charge of such a stellar group of women. Serving on the International Board of Directors is a great responsibility, but it also lends itself to great rewards. Being named International President is, indeed, the greatest reward.”

Lewellen has been a member of Harmony, Inc. for six years. She is a member of Bella Nova Chorus, based in Ashburn, Va. and has served in a variety of leadership positions at the local level. In addition to serving as Bella Nova’s first chapter president, she is also the tenor of Epic, Harmony, Inc.’s 2012 International Quartet Champions. She participates in the hobby with her husband, their children, her parents and her sister.

“Barbershop harmony is a part of my family—so many of the wonderful people I’ve met through this organization have become like family,” Lewellen says. “Having the opportunity to serve in the positions I have is honestly the least I can do to give back to the organization that has given me so much.”

When she is not engaged with the barbershop harmony hobby, she works as an association executive for a global professional association based in Washington, D.C.

Harmony, Inc. celebrates and preserves the barbershop harmony style, which traces its musical roots back to the turn of the 20th century. Today, barbershop harmony singers not only celebrate the classics, but also put their own spin on contemporary songs as well. For more information, visit

About Harmony, Incorporated:

Harmony, Inc. is an international, non-profit organization whose purpose is to empower all women through education, friendship and a cappella singing in the barbershop style. Since 1959, the organization has expanded from its Eastern roots to include more than 60 chapters in the United States and Canada, from California to Newfoundland, and from Manitoba to Florida. For more information, visit




Nervous…until we weren’t

We’re in the final weeks before heading off to our second Area Contest & Convention (AC&C) up in Rochester, N.Y. We’re super excited because we’re taking a song we LOVE (“Secondhand White Baby Grand”). It’s a song that means a lot to Bella Nova. It earned us a medal last fall at IC&C and it’s come to signify the Bella Nova journey. It’s a bit like slipping on your favorite pair of jeans…it always fits just right.

But our second contest song is a new uptune that we’ll be debuting with our Area 3 sisters on April 30th. It’s new-ish and the choreography package is super new-ish. We’ll be honest–we were more than a little nervous heading into last weekend’s rehearsal. We still had plenty of finishing touches to put on the song and we had been missing a slew of members due to sickness, work, life, etc.

Any singer who has experienced the weeks leading up to contest certainly understands how that deadline puts a healthy amount of pressure on a rehearsal. We were feeling it, no doubt. In fact, we even decided to push pause on our live streaming of rehearsals via Periscope so we could lock things down and channel our focus.

Then…in typical Bella Nova fashion… a few things happened:

  1. We scheduled a LuLaRoe fundraiser for the morning of our rehearsal. Suddenly, we were more focused on cute patterns, and “omg, that dress is SOOOOO you,” and teamwork, and writing (BIG) checks. Shopping is therapy, people. Trust us.
  2. At the previous rehearsal, we identified a few holes in our visual plan and asked the chorus for feedback. Long story short, the emails started flying and we basically crowdsourced the rest of our choreo package. Together, we came up with a plan that would work for area…and we have more enhancements in store for International contest (should we be fortunate enough to make the numbers!).
  3. We rolled out this crowdsourced choreo at rehearsal. We were fierce. We were committed to getting it right. We worked it… HARD.
  4. Then, a moment of utter “eye of the storm” breathlessness. As our two fabulous LuLaRoe consultants (thank you Jessie and Stephanie!!!!!) were cleaning up and preparing to leave, we asked them to join us in the rehearsal hall itself so we could properly thank them for supporting Bella Nova on its journey as a chapter. We guided Jessie and Stephanie to the center of the front row and we surrounded them in a great big Bella Nova circle. Then, we sang them our Bella Nova “goodbye” tag. From the first chord we hit, the ladies were physically affected. Jessie, in particular, immediately began shaking and teared up. Then we teared up. Her reaction was so powerful it was breathtaking. It stopped us in our tracks and suddenly our stress about finishing off a contest package was gone. For the ladies in the chorus who stood in front of her, it was a moment we’re unlikely to forget for many, many years. We love you, Jessie. Come back and join us… you’re a part of our family now!Bella Nova Chorus, female, barbershop harmony, choir, Northern Virginia, Harmony Inc., Sweet Adelines, a cappella
  5. We talked. We talk a lot as a chorus. We talked about what it means to want to do our best, but not at the expense of anyone being uncomfortable or not having fun. We talked about being our own bratty selves on stage. We talked about what it means to be “Bella Nova” authentic. We’re probably going to execute a less-than-perfect plan, but our goals have nothing to do with being perfect. They have more to do with experiencing this journey as a family.

There are a lot of Bella Novas who are probably sipping some wine and going to bed early tonight. Sunday’s rehearsal was killer in so many good ways. We were nervous, until we weren’t, and now we’re cruising toward Area 3 contest with the Bella Nova spirit, complete with half-baked choreo, a few surprises up our sleeves, and a stronger bond than ever before.

That, in our opinion, is #winning.