BY KATHRYN HRYCUSKO
Special to the VOICE
A Cappella Niagara (ACN) invites Pelham residents to come out and support their group Saturday, May 25, at 2 PM as they perform at their “Gonna Rise Up Singing” concert. The concert, which takes place at Fonthill United Church, also features the band Kindred in what ACN hopes will be a fun afternoon of song.
Comprised of mainly Pelham residents, ACN has been in existence since 1998, when the group split from the St. Catharines A Cappella Group. Though technically the group is the Niagara Falls chapter and accepts members from throughout Niagara, it meets in Pelham and caters largely to the local Pelham community.
An all men’s barbershop group, ACN currently has 24 individuals in their chorus. This includes some new members this year, whose presence, member Bob Laing hopes, will bring some new faces to the concert, increasing attendance from last year’s count of 150.
The chorus, which features all the members singing together, also includes within it four barbershop quartets—JAQ (Just Another Quartet), Vintage Blend, Extension Chord, and New York Minute.
Brothers Bob and Bill Laing are a part of the Vintage Blend quartet and are hoping that the show can provide some exposure for the group and entice more men to join.
They themselves were part of the original chapter that split off in 1998, but have been singing a cappella for much longer. Bob remembers long car rides home from college when they, along with a friend who was the son of a local music teacher, would “barbershop all the way home in the car.”
From there, the brothers eventually joined a church barbershop quartet in Niagara, where they were soon invited to perform a couple of numbers with the St. Catharines’ a cappella chapter, and, as Bob said, “the rest was history.”
“It’s been a good relationship over the years,” said Bob. “Not many brothers get a chance to perform together.”
The Laings encourage others to come out and try out a cappella with ACN, even if they have no previous experience.
“I invite people to give it a try. Singing is one of the healthy things that you can do virtually all of your life.” said Bob. “I guess there statistics show that people that sing live longer.”
“We’re walking examples,” said Bill laughing.
The group performs at senior living homes, concerts, and parades such as the Candlelight Walk, Canada Day Parade, and Santa Claus Parade. The chorus and quartets are also available for hire for numerous other occasions including, banquets, weddings, sporting events, and even as singing Valentines.
Both the quartets and the chorus will be performing a variety of numbers at the upcoming concert, with the quartets singing two to three songs, and the chorus taking on 17 numbers. Their repertoire spans several decades, and during the concert ACN will transport their listeners decade by decade, covering songs like “Doo-wop” and “Gonna Rise Up Singing,” as well as a number of ballads.
The show will also feature the band Kindred, a group that plays “kitchen music”—anything from traditional Celtic tunes to bluegrass and rock and roll. Tickets are $15 (children under 12 get in free), and proceeds go to operating costs for ACN as well as to the charities they support—Sing Canada Harmony, Niagara Children’s Centre, and Harmonize for Speech. Anyone interested in learning more about ACN may call Bob Laing for more information at 905-892-2336.
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