What kind of music does Bella Nova sing?
Barbershop harmony is very nicely defined by the Barbershop Harmony Society (the male barbershop organization) as:
A Truly American Artform
Barbershop harmony is music. It’s music in a very pure form created with nothing but human voices coming together to create a rich and satisfying texture that is pleasing to the ears and invigorating to the soul. Whether you’re an experienced musician or a brand new musician, barbershop levels the playing field and allows you to find your voice and be a part of creating something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
I’m familiar with barbershop music but I’ve never heard of Harmony, Inc. What’s the difference between Harmony, Inc. and other female barbershop organizations?
If you’ve never heard of Harmony, Inc., it might simply have to do with where you grew up or in what part of the country you first experienced barbershop harmony. Harmony, Inc. is a vibrant and growing community of female barbershop singers that is currently concentrated along the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada, and in portions of the Midwest and in the Southeast. When Bella Nova started, there were no other Harmony, Inc. chapters in Maryland, Virginia or D.C., making Bella Nova the first of its kind in this region. Harmony, Inc. competitors are scored on the exact same system as the Barbershop Harmony Society. In fact, BHS and Harmony, Inc. judges are interchangeable since they judge in the same categories and on the same points system. Harmony, Inc. also has the same standards of competition-worthy arrangements as the Barbershop Harmony Society.
Does Bella Nova compete?
Oh, for sure! That’s one of the best parts about being a barbershop harmony chorus! Bella Nova is part of Harmony Inc.’s Area 3, which often hosts qualifying competitions in upstate New York. Harmony, Inc.’s International Competition & Convention (IC&C) changes location year to year, often taking turns between a U.S. location and a Canadian location. See the list of future competition sites here.
Will I have to audition?
Nope, no auditions. Look, barbershop harmony isn’t for everyone. If you’ve never sung a note in your life, you might find that being a part of Bella Nova is too challenging… but come visit us anyway, because you might find that it’s an undiscovered talent you’ve been hiding for way too long! But if you sing in the shower, in your car, at your church, if you used to sing in high school or college or at the karaoke bar, you’ll be GREAT! If you love to sing, there is a home for you at Bella Nova. We have an amazing director who will teach you the skills you need and help you develop your barbershop harmony skills over time.
You can also check out our rehearsals via live stream on Periscope. It’s a great way to engage in a no-commitment sort of way!
Who is Bella Nova’s musical director?
We are incredibly fortunate to have Richard Lewellen as our musical director. Read about Richard’s many accomplishments here.
What type of time commitment will Bella Nova require?
We believe that, with proper training and support, we can forgo working longer and more often and work SMARTER instead. Bella Nova is a “do your homework” type of chapter. You will be armed with the learning tools you need (and, no, you don’t need to read music to be successful at Bella Nova) to learn on your own and come to rehearsal prepared. At rehearsals, we work smart and leave plenty of time for fun. Our rehearsal schedule calls for two Sunday afternoon rehearsals per month. They are often every other Sunday, but holidays and barbershop schedules can get in the way of a strict “second and fourth Sunday” game plan. Our schedule is set a year in advance in order to make planning easier. As we get close to contests or major performances, we often schedule extra rehearsals as necessary.
What about the financial commitment?
Our chapter dues are a very reasonable total cost accompanied by flexible billing options (paying $30 monthly, for example). Bella Nova dues include the cost of being a member of both our chapter and the Harmony, Inc., international organization, as well as some of the primary costuming requirements of the chorus. What’s not included in monthly dues is cost of travel to competition sites and some other minor accessories. We always make our best attempt to pursue cost effective options in these categories and we offer members opportunities to participate in unique and non-salesy fundraisers. Also note, youth dues (members who are younger than 25 years old) are reduced. Contact the chapter for more info.
What exactly does “family friendly” mean?
What it means to us is that we’re truly interested in welcoming singers of all ages. There is no minimum age requirement for joining Bella Nova. So long as a young lady has appropriate supervision at chorus events and has the ability to keep up with Bella Nova music, choreography, and rehearsals, she is more than welcome to join our ranks! Our chorus features a youth development structure, and we have leaders committed to making sure that parents are consistently informed, young members are positioned to succeed in Bella Nova, and that we are providing an exciting and enriching environment for our younger crowd. NOTE: Parents and guardians do not need to be members of our chapter for young ladies to join.
What if I have additional questions?
Please feel free to reach out to the Bella Nova leadership by emailing BellaNovaChorus@gmail.com. We will be happy to answer your questions via email or set up a convenient time to talk on the phone.