In the summer of 1965, nine ladies, all residents of the West Island and all with previous barbershop experience, got together over coffee and decided to start a chorus. They found a director, started recruiting, and in August of 1966 the West Island Chorus of Sweet Adelines was officially chartered. In March of the following year, under this same director, Ted Snider, a chorus of thirty-one members competed for the first time. They placed tenth in a field of twenty-seven choruses.
During the next few years the chorus grew in size and knowledge steadily attracting members from the entire Montreal region including Montreal East, Rosemere, Laval, Repentigny, Chateauguay and Hudson under the guidance of three different directors. In 1979, under the direction of Judy Comeau, West Island Chorus realized a dream and won first place at the Regional Competition, after which they traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to compete at the International Convention in the fall of 1980.
In the fall of 1982, Judy Comeau moved away and was replaced for two years by Frank Tortorelli. In 1984 however, he resigned the position. By this time there was a young lady on the risers singing baritone by the name of Lynn MacMartin. She was a barbershop veteran, having been indoctrinated at a young age by her Mom, and was persuaded to take the position of director. That year, 1984, with a novice director, the chorus placed eighth at Regional Competition. Five year later, in 1989, they again took first place. In the fall of 1990, eighty very excited ladies went to Salt Lake City, Utah to experience another competition at the International level.
Lynn, however, was also destined to leave us, and in 1994 one of the Chorus members, Edith Blacklock, took over as interim director until a permanent replacement could be found. Marci Alegant was with the chorus only a year before moving away, and in 1996 another chorus member, Nicole St-Jean, came off the risers to become director. The first year Nicole took the chorus to competition we were awarded the trophy for most improved chorus and she continued her goal to improve every year, until she stepped down in 2001.
Rob Mance had been working with the chorus as a coach during that year, and decided to accept the position of interim director to take the chorus to Regional Competition in May, where we improved our standing, and where Rob was given the Novice Director award. In June 2001 we officially welcomed Rob as our new Musical Director. 2002 continued to be an exciting year for the chorus. We welcomed 10 new members, learned new repertoire and choreography, and for many, the challenge to learn new voice parts.
Once more in the summer of 2006 we were faced with the task of finding a new director. Rob would leave us in the fall to continue his studies in the USA. We were fortunate to have found Mark Lewis an extremely talented musician. Mark directed the chorus for 5 years and brought new ideas and boosted our Christmas performances with an annual Christmas show. Under Mark’s leadership, we invited former director Judy Comeau to be our coach. Unfortunately in 2011, Mark took ill and was unable to continue as our director.
Our dedicated assistant directors, Prem Neeff and Jean Kelly took the reins and kept the chorus motivated and challenged under the continued guidance of Judy Comeau. Judy directed us at contest and we were thrilled to win the "Most Improved" award. Immediately after contest, a formal director search was initiated and we were so excited when in October 2011, former member Tracey Larder became our new director. Tracey brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and energy to our chorus and is challenging us to grow to new heights.
Throughout our 50 year history, we have continued to support the Montreal community through performance opportunities, by donating to charities or providing scholarship funds. Our member's ages span seven decades proving that singing keeps you young!
We are beginning a new chapter in the history of the chorus. The chorus membership is growing and we are reinventing ourselves as we embrace the 21st century. The former West Island Chorus is now the Acappella Sounds Chorus.
2012 Regional Competition Tracey Larder, Novice Director Award
2011 Regional Competition
a) 7th Place Chorus
b) Most Improved Chorus
2008 Regional Competition
a) 7th Place Chorus
b) Most Improved Chorus
c) 3rd Place Mid-Size Division AA Award
1989 Regional Competition 1st Place Medals
1979 Regional Competition 1st Place Medals
To see pictures of some of our Chorus and Quartet Competitions visit our Photo Galleries.