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The Story of Fog City Harmonia

An article in the May/June 2019 issue of The Harmonizer entitled “Exploring New Options For Your Chapter” chronicled how two chapters are expanding their programming as part of the implementation of Everyone In Harmony. One of the chapters featured was the Barbary Coast, CA chapter and introduced Fog City Harmonia, a new women’s chorus.

That article did not correctly characterize the genesis and development of Fog City Harmonia. We apologize for that characterization of the chorus and its relationship to the Barbary Coast chapter, and are grateful for the opportunity to use this space to feature the story of Fog City Harmonia and the Barbary Coast, CA chapter in their words. All quotes in this post come from the founding members of Fog City Harmonia: Jess Blackshaw, Karen Maass, Addy Mendoza, Alisa Peters and Kelly Sopher.

The Story of Fog City Harmonia

Fog City Harmonia

Fog City Harmonia’s inaugural performance in April was not a trial, as it was characterized in The Harmonizer. In fact, their vision of functioning as a seasonal chorus with regular auditions was clear from their initial meetings well in advance of April’s concert. That inaugural performance was one dot on a larger roadmap rather than a destination. “The date for the first rehearsal of our second set was chosen in March, and we decided in April that we would sing a few songs on the Fog City Singers show and host a concert of our own in August,” they said.

“We knew we weren't alone in our strong desire for a chorus like this, and we knew finding enough members would be well within our abilities. The main open questions we had were logistical, e.g. how often will we rehearse, and what will our exact breakdown of music be? ‘Will this chorus succeed?’ was not a significant concern, as we were certain it would. That’s why we registered with the BHS as an active chorus even before our first performance.”

The founders of Fog City Harmonia (named after the Greek goddess of harmony and concord) said they were brought together because of a collective yearning to build a strong community of talented musicians singing together. They had each been singing in many musical styles over the years. Three of the founding members — Maass, Peters and Sopher — were barbershoppers. Blackshaw and Mendoza sang a cappella in college with Chris Lewis, the director of Fog City Singers. The announcement of Everyone In Harmony as the Barbershop Harmony Society’s new strategic vision created an opportunity to not only start a new chorus, but one that was affiliated as a sister chorus with Fog City Singers, they said.

“Once emails were exchanged and a couple initial meetings were held, we realized that we worked really well together and that our goals were aligned,” they said.

The first performance in April not only met, but exceeded their expectations, with an audience of over 100. They are currently rehearsing for appearances on the Fog City Singers summer concerts on August 1 and 3. Fog City Harmonia’s second concert is on August 24 at Kanbar Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, and they will be singing for evaluation at the Far Western District competition in Sacramento this October.