Young voices will sing out at Sweet Adelines show in Indiana
By Gina DelFavero
Published: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, 8:10 p.m.
There will be quite a few younger voices heard on Saturday at the annual show of the local Indi-Anna chapter of the Sweet Adelines women's barbershop-style singing group.
Young Women in Harmony, an offshoot group for youngsters, will be part of the 2 p.m. program at Indiana's Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.
Director Mary Jane Gatti has been working for nine years with girls ranging in age from 7 to those in their teens. This year, she's preparing two musical numbers each with the full group of young vocalists and with a sextet of more experienced members who can draw upon more advanced skills in harmony.
Gatti, who has been a Sweet Adelines member since 1980, said working with the younger girls has been especially satisfying because they genuinely enjoy singing and are eager to participate.
“I like the fact that they always want to put more into the song. They want to do motions, they always have ideas,” Gatti said. “It's their enthusiasm and excitement to perform — how much they're willing to do — and they learn quickly. That makes them enjoyable to work with.”
When Gatti launched the local Young Women in Harmony group nine years ago, she started by recruiting her own granddaughter, Emelie Gatti, now a junior in college. At the time, the younger Gatti was a talented junior high singer.
“She was able to give me names of some other young women who were members of other choruses, performers in shows,” Mary Jane Gatti said. “We started actively looking for girls who like to sing.”
At times, the group has attracted older singers who are in their late teens or who are attending college. Gatti has found younger girls have more flexibility for attending rehearsals, but they often require more coaching
“Singing harmony is something that's a little more difficult,” she said. “You have to have an ear for music.”
That's why, this year, she's highlighting a smaller group of more experienced girls who have shown some promise harmonizing.
The group of six girls — Amanda Iandiorio, 12; Brielle King, 13; Emily Marshall, 11; Madeline Miller, 14; Gracie Mundorff, 11; and Alayna Shoenfelt, 13 — will sing “You'll Never Go Wrong with a Song” and “Harmony Collage” at Saturday's show.
The larger Young Women in Harmony roster of about 15 will perform two musical show tunes — “Hard-Knock Life” from “Annie” and “Kids” from “Bye Bye Birdie.”
Gatti noted the “Kids” performance will feature a twist — there will be five additional chorus members, all boys.
She said their inclusion came about after a mother asked her if she would consider working with boys, too.
“I don't have very many of them,” she said. “I didn't know if it would be popular or not.”
Having the younger kids on stage, though, gives them musical experience and creates a fun atmosphere for the audience, Gatti said.
The younger singers rehearse each Tuesday, from September until the annual show at the end of October, while the older India-Anna members rehearse year-round.
While it's not required, Gatti hinted that one young girl, Amanda Iandiorio of Blairsville, has expressed interest in continuing on to sing with the Indi-Annas. She has been a part of Young Women in Harmony for the past five years.
The Blairsville sixth-grader, daughter of Tracey Iandiorio and Dwight Gaul, was attracted to the group by her grandmother, Eileen Iandiorio, who has been a Sweet Adelines member since 1996.
“I love singing,” Amanda Iandiorio said. “I wanted to do some kind of singing group, and it's a good opportunity. I like mostly the harmony, and the people there are fun.”
She learned how to harmonize through the chorus program at her former school, St. Bernard Regional School in Indiana.
“It was fun for me,” she said, noting she got her start singing in the first grade.
She now sings in the Blairsville Junior High chorus and has participated in musicals staged by the local Indiana Players theatrical troupe. She played the title role in “Pocahontas” and had roles in “Annie Junior” and “Alice in Wonderland Junior.”
Amanda Iandiorio confirmed that she wants to soon join the Indi-Anna chapter of Sweet Adelines, which is under the direction of Mary Lou McKinney.
“I like a lot of the songs because I like '50s songs, more classical than hard rock songs, and Sweet Adelines do a lot of classical songs,” she said.
Eileen Iandiorio is thrilled at the prospect of having her granddaughter sing alongside her: “I'm very proud of her. She hears me singing the songs all the time and she learns them rather quickly; she may join next summer.”
The only thing holding Amanda Iandiorio back from joining Sweet Adelines is the 9 p.m. weeknight rehearsals, which could conflict with her homework.
Brielle King of Cherry Tree also joined Young Women in Harmony five years ago.
The daughter of Greg and Rochelle King, who is home-schooled, learned about the singing opportunity through a friend at her Indiana church. Brielle King sometimes sings with the Sovereign Grace Church worship team, whose members include both of her parents.
“Singing's always been in our family,” she said. “I just like singing. I've been singing for as long as I can remember, really.”
Emily Marshall, the daughter of Adam and Karen Marshall of Homer City, described a similar musical interest.
“I've been singing ever since I can remember,” the younger Marshall said, noting that her mother is a music instructor at Blairsville and Saltsburg elementary schools and was a former teacher at St. Bernard.
“She's helped me a lot with the harmonies,” Marshall said of her mother. “Without her, I wouldn't be able to do it.”
Marshall is a fifth-grader at St. Bernard Regional School, where she has joined another singing ensemble. She worships at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church in Indiana, where she has helped lead songs during services and where she learned about Young Women in Harmony.
She joined Young Women in Harmony last year with encouragement from fellow church member Gatti.
Like her friend Amanda Iandiorio, Marshall is pretty sure she will one day graduate into the Sweet Adelines.
“We've been friends for a while,” Marshall said, adding that they met as students at St. Bernard. “It's nice to have her in the group.”
In the harmony-highlighting number “Harmony Collage,” King will singing the tenor part and Iandiorio the baritone, while Marshall will take on the bass part.
Membership in Young Women in Harmony has only enhanced the three girls' passion for song, giving them experience on stage that may one day be an asset to them as performers.
“The people there are so nice and I really like being on stage and performing,” King said of the group.
“It's nice to get together with a bunch of girls that enjoy singing and sing with them,” Marshall said. “It's nice to share my interest with others.”
“A Lifetime of Music” is the theme of the show to be presented Saturday by the Indi-Anna chapter of Sweet Adelines. In addition to the Young Women in Harmomy and the junior sextet, featured groups will include the award-winning barbershop quartet Frank the Dog and the Marion Center High School chorus.
Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and are available in advance by calling 724-479-0747. There is no charge for children under age 12. For more information, visit www.indi-annas.com.
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