What a Weekend!

Wow! What a weekend for the Bella Nova sisterhood! Once again, we had the opportunity to share the stage with our brothers in harmony, the Fairfax Jubil-Aires. In addition to sharing a director, the Fairfax gents are truly our partners in crime. They have been so supportive of Bella Nova throughout our journey and they’ve welcomed us to take part in their annual show for the last several years. As partners, we work hard to fill the seats in the auditorium and we sure had a successful outcome to our efforts this year. The cherry on top was featured quartet, Route 1; those guys are simply awesome.

Bella Nova Chorus, barbershop harmony, Harmony Inc., a cappella, Richard Lewellen, female barbershop, Northern Virginia choir, Washington DC, chorus, women singing

A small but mighty Bella Nova contingent on the Fairfax Jubil-Aires show, March 2016.

Our numbers were a bit light this year. So many of our sisters were taken down by bugs, the flu, and other obligations! We were missing about a third of the chorus but the remaining members sure brought their “big girl” voices! In the first show, we knew our sound was solid from the first few lines of the opening song. By the time we got to our contest ballad, “Secondhand White Baby Grand,” we had settled in for a fantastic ride–we were connected to each other, and we were hanging on Richard’s fingertips. The ballad was probably the best we’ve ever sung it. It was magic. We could see it all over Richard’s face! And when we later made our way to the lobby to greet our audience, we were blown away by the comments and feedback we got about our set! What an uplifting experience.

Bella Nova Chorus, barbershop harmony, Harmony Inc., a cappella, Richard Lewellen, female barbershop, Northern Virginia choir, Washington DC, chorus, women singing

ReVoiced stepped out for a few songs. A special shout out to lead, Grace, who was celebrating her 15th birthday!

We also need to offer a shout-out to our first official Bella Nova quartet, ReVoiced. These ladies always do us proud, but we were particularly proud to have them step out from the risers and represent our chorus with two songs during the show. Not only are they singing better and better with each performance, but it’s clear the audience loves them as much as we do. And best of all…. Saturday was Grace’s 15th birthday. What 15 year old do you know who spends her 15th birthday singing barbershop all day long!?! Happy birthday, beautiful Grace. We love you.

In between the two shows, our assistant director, Kris Adams, taught us some Pitch Perfect mash-ups to keep our voices warmed up and ready to go. A very fun way to pass the time!

Bella Nova Chorus, barbershop harmony, Harmony Inc., a cappella, Richard Lewellen, female barbershop, Northern Virginia choir, Washington DC, chorus, women singing

The Fairfax Jubil-Aires having some fun with crazy wigs as their music walked the audience through the decades.

All but one song of our show set were arranged by Larry Wright, who just happened to be in the audience for both performances. He told Richard that we did him proud and even elicited a misty eye during the ballad. There is no higher honor for us than to bring our brilliant arranger’s work to life. Larry–you bring the soul to Bella Nova’s music. Thank you.

To top it all off, we had our regular rehearsal on Sunday because, hey, contest is coming! We’re bound and determined to roll out our new uptune so there is no rest for the weary (or wicked, as some might say). We kept it short; we were all BEYOND tired. But we made great progress, warming up with our Pitch Perfect mash-up from the day before, and working hard to refine our choreo moves. We opened our rehearsal to the “interwebs” once again with Periscope and Queen Lindsay “stopped by to visit” for a while! Hi, Lindsay!!! Best of all–a woman from our afternoon show’s audience came by as a visitor and left as a NEW MEMBER!!! We were so excited to meet her and open our arms to another Bella Nova sister!

All and all, another fantastic experience in the Bella Nova journey. XOXO!

Bella Nova Chorus, barbershop harmony, Harmony Inc., a cappella, Richard Lewellen, female barbershop, Northern Virginia choir, Washington DC, chorus, women singing

The big finale!

Don’t Stress… No Auditions

RichardHey everybody. This is Richard. Your director dude. I’ve been hearing some questions that are typical for new chorus members, so I thought I’d hop online and clear up some confusion, and hopefully provide some reassurance about what the Bella Nova experience will be all about.

So, some of you have been worried about whether there will be an audition for Bella Nova. The quick answer is no. Most people who are willing to give a barbershop harmony chorus a shot are people who have some experience with singing–even if it’s just solos in the car or in the shower. Did you sing with a high school chorus? Or a church choir at some point? Do you like doing karaoke, or even just singing “happy birthday” when the occasion arises? If so, you’ll be fine. My goal is to create a supportive, positive learning environment for all of our singers–from beginners to more experienced barbershoppers. We’re going to have a lot of fun, and we’re going to grow and succeed as a group.

So moving on to question number two… “What part will I sing?”  I can help with that, especially for ladies who are new to this genre. When we have a chance to meet in person, I will do a simple exercise with you in private. I’ll pull you aside and maybe have you sing something simple like happy birthday. I have years of experience getting barbershop singers positioned on the right voice part, and we’ll be able to quickly assess our options for what musical role you can play with Bella Nova.

Generally speaking, folks who are new to barbershop harmony start by singing lead (the melody) or bass (the low part). Those who have some experience reading music may be better suited to baritone (filler harmony) or tenor (the high part).

And the bottom line is that you get a vote. We want you to sing a part that brings you joy. We want you to be comfortable. If you try out a voice part for a while and find yourself longing to give something else a shot, we can make that happen.

Are you worried about reading (or not reading) music? You don’t need to know how to read music. If you know how, that’s definitely an asset and it will certainly enhance your experience. But it’s not necessary, thanks to technology and the tools we have to help you learn music. Even if you’ve never had experience reading music before, you may find that your time with Bella Nova gives you some basic skills in this area. As you follow along with your learning tracks (recordings of your part on a particular song), you may develop some familiarity over time with the way music, especially barbershop music, is presented in the sheet music form.

Keep your questions coming. I’m here to help.

Welcome to a new option in acappella!

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Bella Nova is about to introduce a whole new way for Washington, D.C., area women to enjoy acapella harmony in the barbershop style! Created to be commuter friendly and family friendly, Bella Nova will generally meet two Sunday afternoons per month, and you and any young singers in your life (daughters, friends, nieces, etc.) are ALWAYS welcome. Whether you’re brand new to barbershop or you’re looking to enjoy the barbershop style in a whole new way, please come see what Bella Nova is all about.

Bella Nova will launch in August of 2013 under the direction of notable barbershopper Richard Lewellen. Bella Nova is the first Virginia-based chapter of Harmony, Incorporated, an international, non-profit organization whose purpose is to empower all women through education, friendship and a cappella singing in the barbershop style.

Stay tuned to this site and be sure to “like” Bella Nova’s Facebook page for more information about our upcoming kick-off event. Check out our FAQs for more information about how Bella Nova is a fresh, new approach to barbershop.