Aug 022012

Aberdeen’s very own award winning Chorus of Sweet Adelines is having another busy year preparing for a series of events in the North East of Scotland.  With thanks to Linda Allan.

Usually at this time of year, this extremely accomplished medal winning Chorus is preparing to take to the stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe but this year, due to problems with a venue, Chorus Director Gwen Topp decided that it was time to tour in the local area and bring a summer show to their loyal fans in the North East.

Interviewed recently about the Chorus, Gwen said:

“We work hard every year preparing for our annual competition, making sure that our vocal and performance skills are at a very high level and, as many time medal winners over the years, this dedication has paid off extremely well.”

“But the ladies also enjoy putting on shows and staging concerts, particularly if that involves dressing up, or props!  This kind of performance also allows us to choose a repertoire which suits different audiences and different events and lets us include a few comedy moments which the ladies and the audience usually enjoy very much. “After these summer shows, our schedule continues with a Charity musical event in the Music Hall on Sunday 7th October as invited artists supporting such causes as the Maggie’s Foundation.

“Later in the year, as we prepare for our own Christmas Shows in Aberdeen, we will be looking forward to singing in the magnificent Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow as guests of the Phoenix Choir in their Christmas Concert on 14th December.  The Chorus relishes the chance to perform at all kinds of venues and for all kinds of audience and seeing the happy smiling faces in the audience always adds to our enjoyment of the event.”

This talented group of enthusiastic singers will be delighting the folks of Fraserburgh with a harmonious evening of light-hearted entertainment and exciting a cappella singing on Saturday 25th August at 7.45pm in The United Reformed Church on Mid Street. For tickets for this event, contact the Church, or Baird’s Pharmacy. The group also has a show in Newtonhill on Saturday 1st September at 7.45pm in the Bettridge Centre.  For tickets for this event, contact the Bettridge Centre or, visit the website at

Feb 172012

Last Saturday, 58 members of The Aberdeen Chorus of Sweet Adelines headed south to Edinburgh to take part in their second audition for this year’s version of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. With thanks to Linda Allan.

Having had very positive feedback from some of the programme’s producers in the first audition in the autumn,  the ladies were ready to brave the “fearsome 4” judges as well as a live audience in the magnificent Festival Hall.

The Chorus added some more polish to the ballad “At Last” and donned their “Black and Sparkle”  ( some of the visitors to the Kinross Service Station car park will never be the same again!).

The day passed in the Festival Hall with photo and video shoots, interviews, warm ups, run-throughs, wee glimpses into the Hall at some of the other acts, lots of chat, and endless trips to the facilities to check apparel and make-up – all of this punctuated regularly by the most awful foghorn sound of the dreaded buzzer bursting through from the stage.

As the day wore on and the programme schedule slipped further and further behind, it became quite clear that this Chorus was not going to see the Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen again till well into the “wee sma’ oors” – about 3:30am for some of the ladies!!  Never mind – more time to eat another snack, have another photo shoot on the staircase – and watch some performing dogs being interviewed and getting their costumes put on for their act.

There was time too to serenade the (very enthusiastic) public at audience change-over times with some Chorus songs.  It has to be said that the BGT crew members and Festival Hall staff were extremely pleasant, helpful, positive and encouraging, despite what must have been an extremely stressful day for them too.

A visit from the very pleasant and charming Ant and Dec added to the excitement

Then – at last – the intrepid songsters were escorted down endless flights of stairs, along miles of corridors, past mounds of cables and whole forests of cameras and microphones till arriving behind the curtain of the big stage where acts, comments from the judges and the scary buzzer could clearly be heard.

There they stood in excitement for – ages – along with a flea circus, 4 lycra-clad Scottish pipers in rather dubious pink, blue, and green all-in-one skin tight costumes, a very nervous singer experimenting rather gingerly with a microphone, and some curiously clad individuals with strange accents and weird instruments.

A visit from the very pleasant and charming Ant and Dec added to the excitement, as in between various stages of their duties, they ran the gauntlet of the rows of waiting ladies “high-fiving” as they went!  There was also to be more chat and filming with the duo just before going on stage, and later on some of the ladies of the chorus were able to pose with them for photos and autographs at the stage door.

So then – at last (again)- the culmination of the day – an entry on stage to a packed auditorium and the ‘fearsome 4’. There was some further filming, with some questions from the judges to the Director of the Chorus Gwen Topp and the Chorus President Debbie Pern, and then the ballad “At Last”.All judges acknowledged the technical expertise of the Chorus, and the polish and quality of the singing

So how did it go?  The Chorus sang extremely well. One judge liked the Chorus, 2 judges liked the song “At Last”. One judge commented on the lovely involved faces.  All judges acknowledged the technical expertise of the Chorus, and the polish and quality of the singing. In the end two voted for the Chorus to go through, and two voted against.

  As with everything the Chorus undertakes there are valuable opportunities for learning.

Because the judge who had the casting vote in a tie-breaking situation had voted against the Chorus and had in fact used the buzzer, the Chorus will not be going through to the next stage. The genre of music, in which the Chorus excels, was unfortunately simply not to their liking. They simply did not get it!

How does the Chorus feel?  As with everything the Chorus undertakes there are valuable opportunities for learning.  The experience gained from the preparation for the event, the process of being involved in performing at such a big event and dealing with uncertain procedures and ever-changing timelines is very valuable for any performer, and plays an important part in developing performing skills.  Listen, learn, and move on!

What now??  The Chorus will continue to work for the next important events in its calendar, including visits from international coaches and preparation for the annual competition in May in Birmingham.

Tribute must be paid to GwenTopp, Chorus Director and Debbie, Chorus President, for their work both in preparation for the event and also for their magnificent handling of interview questions at the various sections of the day.

Both succeeded in giving heart-felt, eloquent responses which went a long way to promoting not only the Aberdeen Chorus and The World Wide Organisation of Sweet Adelines, but also the value of singing in a group as great fun, a wonderful hobby, a promoter of well-being and a source of support and friendship to those who take part. This message has the potential of reaching many thousands of people, should the clips be televised.

Nov 052010

By Anne Cargill.

A women’s barbershop choir has helped raise almost £6,000 for an Aberdeen charity.

Pictured is Gwen Topp, Director of the Aberdeen Chorus of Sweet Adelines, presenting a cheque for £5828.98 to Elaine Thomson, Chair of Cornerstone. The money was raised at a recent Grand Charity Concert which also featured the Granite City Chorus and the Flying Pigs.

Said Gwen Topp, Director of the Aberdeen Chorus of Sweet Adeline:

“We are absolutely delighted that the show was such a success and that we have been able to support the work of Cornerstone.”

The Aberdeen Chorus of Sweet Adelines International is one of the top women’s barbershop choruses in the UK, attracting women of all ages.

The chorus welcomes new members to their rehearsals every Monday in the Britannia Hotel Bucksburn.

With over 90 members the chorus will be perfoming their Christmas shows in December:

6th December – Mastrick Church,
10th December – Midstocket Church,
13th December – Peterculter Church,
17th December Holburn West Church.

All shows start at 7.45p.m.  Tickets available at the door or from 07941 415516 or

Anne Cargill
Publicity Officer
Aberdeen Chorus of Sweet Adelines