Sylvain Vallee’s a cappella pop choirs sing I Feel Good by James Brown. Singers are invited to audition for the fall session.

Singers wanted for a cappella pop choir

Valley Harmony and other pop a cappella choirs are popping up all over the Thompson-Okanagan, thanks to Sylvain Vallee.

  • Sep. 2, 2016 12:00 p.m.

Patch Hutchinson

Special to The Morning Star

Sylvain Vallee recently finished recording the practice tracks to Bohemian Rhapsody for his a cappella pop choir.

The international mega-hit, written by Freddie Mercury, was recorded in 1975 by the British band Queen.

“We are different than other choirs,” said Vallee, who is the music director of Valley Harmony in Vernon. “The focus is popular music, fun music to perform in a fun atmosphere. But also for someone who is up for a challenge and wants to work a little harder.”

Vallee directs three a cappella pop choirs in the Thompson-Okanagan: Valley Harmony in Vernon, The Coppertones in South Shuswap, and River Harmony in Kamloops. All three groups combined to perform year-end concerts in each community last May. They donated more than $2,000 from the proceeds to charities in Vernon and Kamloops.

Vallee started his first group in Lumby about seven years ago, after a man who had sung pop a cappella at the coast approached him. A cappella means to sing without instrumental accompaniment.

“The idea was to do something different,” said Vallee. “Local choirs were all singing classical and church music and typical choir repertoire.”

He records practice tracks for soprano, alto, tenor and bass (SATB) mixed voices, so that choir members can sing along on their smart phone or tablet.

Bohemian Rhapsody will be split into nine parts. Songs include The Beatles, Billy Joel and more. The ability to read sheet music is helpful, but not required. Singers are expected to memorize the music and be “off book” for every performance.

Marv Friesen has been singing pop a cappella with Vallee since he began directing his first group.

“Sylvain puts together the MP3 learning tracks. I download them to a CD and play it in my car,” said the bass voice, who is looking forward to singing Bohemian Rhapsody. “If we each learn our parts, we can pull it off.”

One of the greatest benefits for Friesen has been the ability to perform confidently. He credits Vallee’s musical knowledge and skills, vocal range and fine-tuned ear.

“If one of us is slightly off, he can hear it. And the dynamics of the group keeps us coming back,” said Friesen. “We have a pretty good rapport, and that carries on when we go for coffee and a doughnut afterwards.”

Vallee invites new voices to audition for the fall session of Valley Harmony, which starts practising in September. Interested singers need to prepare a popular song from 1950 to modern times.

Some people are not a fit for the group, and Vallee can suggest music lessons.

“It is a very informal, very casual audition to see if they have pitch and can keep in rhythm,” said Vallee. “Everyone comes in with different abilities. I just want to get a feel for how they sing the song, a sense of where they are, how their voice sounds and where to fit them. That takes about 10 minutes, tops.”

To schedule an audition, contact Vallee by email at sylvain@valleemusic.com

 

Just Posted

Standing Still comedy show took place in Lumby Friday night

Hundreds lined up at Lumby’s community centre to attend the free show.

Author gives presentation on life in remote Nepal at Caetani House

Author Dorje Dolma presents her book Yak Girl: Growing Up in the Remote Dolpo Region of Nepal on Friday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at Caetani Centre in Vernon.

Three Vernon-area organizations receive provincial grants

The province is providing a total of $673,124 in project development grants to support rural communities throughout B.C.

Lumby featured on CBC show Still Standing

Filming concludes Friday with a comedy show at the White Valley Community Centre.

Armstrong healthcare society recruiting physician

One doctor moves to Australia; Haugen Healthcare Society looking to fill void

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Most Read