ABRAchordABRA from St Catherine’s College have recently been named one of New Zealand’s top female secondary school barbershop quartets being placed second in the national finals in Hamilton.
The quartet, consisting of Ashleigh Twist (tenor), Rowena Yates (lead), Annelise Le Grange (baritone) and Barbara Aukusitino (bass) have been singing together for about 18 months and have found a vocal blend that can take years to accomplish.
Their road to success has been a challenging one. They first competed in the Wellington regional competition in 2005 achieving an 8th placing. This made them determined to work harder to gain a higher placing and eligibility to enter the national finals this year. The girls have worked incredibly hard during rehearsals with their coach Bernadette Tak√Ç¬¨√¢ÀÜ‘cs, as well as attending development workshops, mentoring younger barbershop singers and performing around Wellington.
This year they were 2nd in the regional finals gaining entrance into the national finals. Rehearsal schedules were stepped up in the weeks following. However, they faced major complications when their baritone had to travel to South Africa due to a family bereavement. With her return date uncertain, ABRAchordABRA faced the possibility of not making it to the competition.
The three remaining members continued a rigorous training schedule and with Annelise’s return just days before the competition they made it to Hamilton.
The national finals are a major event for barbershop singers from all over New Zealand. As well as the 27 quartets performing, there were also choruses from all over the country along with the under-25 men’s and women’s finalists. Despite all of their preparation the girls were nervous on the day of the competition. But, they gave a fantastic performance making themselves a real audience favourite and their 2nd placing was well deserved.
As a result they were required to perform in the gala concert alongside other place-getters as well as world champions, The Musical Island Boys.
Despite two members leaving school next year to further their study, ABRAchordABRA plan to stay together and compete in the under-25 competition in 2007. They would eventually like to travel and perform in America, the home of barbershop singing.