Vista Hills Chorus open to new singers for Sweet Adelines barbershop group

The Vista Hills Chorus at a recent regional competition.
(Jennifer Alicia Hernandez)

The Vista Hills Chorus, the local chapter of Sweet Adelines International barbershop group, is looking for new voices.

The barbershop group meets every Tuesday night in Encinitas and specializes in tight harmonies, ringing chords, and being a fun, supportive and social group of women.

While they meet up at the Church of Christ on Second Street in Encinitas, they are not a church choir. The group goes to competitions every spring and sings in performances around the county throughout the year, such as the San Diego County Fair and National Play Music on the Front Porch Day in Escondido. They do a lot of caroling to bring joy during the holiday season.

Barbershop is considered one of the truly American art forms, with roots going back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. The style was open mainly to male singers through 1945 when Sweet Adelines International was founded for women’s voices. The group borrows its name from an old barbershop standard, “Sweet Adeline “ (“You’re the flower of my heart”).

The all-women group sings a cappella in the barbershop style in four parts—bass, baritone, tenor and lead. In San Diego County they have been around for 63 years and Escondido’s Gloria Ives is the “longest living member of the chorus”—she has been in the group for 39 years.

“We want more people to know about it,” said Ives of the group that is open to all ages and now includes her 17-year-old granddaughter Kate. “We need more people on the risers to take to performances and present a quality performance, to stand up there with pride and do what we do. We would like to grow this year and into next year so we can do more and perform more.

“We love this. We think this is a wonderful thing to do,” she said. “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t part of the group.”

Cynthia Rasquinha, a Carmel Valley resident, is one of the newest members—she joined up last year. Rasquinha had sung in choir at school and a church choir in India and had been looking for a group to join to use her voice to sing again.

She showed up to a Vista Hills rehearsal to listen but eventually hopped onto the risers to sing: “The group is very welcoming,” Rasquinha said. “It’s good fun.”

Whatever the tone of your voice or level of experience, the women said there is a singing part just right for you.

“When I first visited, I didn’t read music, didn’t know what barbershop was about I just knew I liked the sound. Every time I heard barbershop, my ears would perk,” said Jennifer Kershman, the second-longest member who has been in the group for 25 years and is still a part of the chorus even having moved to Orange County.

Kershman still doesn’t read music, she learns by listening with learning tracks—she often turns to her new friend Cynthia for help.

“We all help each other out,” said Kershman. “It’s great for beginners. For new people, there’s no reason to be shy.”

The group sings all different genres, special arrangements of popular show tunes, a lot of “good old chestnuts” and more current songs. They are currently singing songs like “What a Wonderful World” and “I See the Light” from Disney’s “Tangled”.

The Vista Hills Chorus will host a special “Guest Night” on June 20 for any interested singers to come in and seek how they like it. While that night is a special night for visitors, the door is always open: “Anyone can walk in on any night and sing with us,” said Ives.

Meet-ups are held Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at 926 Second Street, Encinitas. For more information visit