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Greater Richmond Chorus Wins Regional Competition

"The choir is very hardworking," says recently appointed director Roger Tarpy. "They love singing and have a great feeling of sisterhood."

Eleven-year choir member Ruth Zacharias seconds that. "What sets us apart from other community choirs is how much we practice," she says.

The members practice every Monday night for three hours. Tarpy provides individual and group voice lessons, and strives for chord balance, in-tune singing and unity of dancing. "We typically learn the music first, then work on expression and then add the choreography," Tarpy says.

According to Tarpy, the women in the front row of the 44-group choir are expert dancers. "It's important that the dancing be precise, but not mechanical," he says.

The chorus is a chapter of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide nonprofit group for women dedicated to the art of singing barbershop-style a cappella music in four-part harmony. The Richmond chapter has been active for 30 years, and about six of the original members still sing with the group.

Admission to the group is by audition, Tarpy says, but members don't have to be able to read music or to have had musical training. "The main thing I look for is ability to carry a tune," he says. Periodically, the group hosts guest nights when those interested in joining are invited to attend.

Although choir member Zacharias expresses disbelief over the win, Tarpy says: "They took my advice and worked hard. Their spirit prevailed." — Chantal Panozzo

The Greater Richmond Chorus can be heard in concert on June 26 at the Landmark Theater when it performs with the Richmond Pops. For more information, go to

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