Upon my return from Washington (the Capital) last week, I was delighted to learn that my friends Knoxana, Olivia, Theadora, and Georgina – a.k.a. The Fource – had taken our other Washington (the State) by storm.

<em>The Fource</em>, from left to right: Olivia Samuel, Georgina Peniamina, Knoxana Leasi, and Theadora Esera. Please click for image source.

The Fource, from left to right: Olivia Samuel, Georgina Peniamina, Knoxana Leasi, and Theadora Esera.

These four talented 16-year-olds from Porirua’s Aotea College were in Seattle last week for the 2010 Sweet Adelines International Convention and Competition. The event brought 7,000 a cappella vocalists from around the world together to compete in a variety of categories. The Fource performed with 19 other groups in the Rising Star Quartet Contest, the premier barbershop competition for female singers aged 25 years and younger.

Each quartet in the Rising Star competition sang two songs, with a total of 400 points up for grabs for each team. Singing “Hard Hearted Hannah” and “All Dressed Up With A Broken Heart,” The Fource earned a near-perfect 380 points and took second place. (Taking first place was an older group named Royal Blush which earned a slightly higher 390 points.)

Friends at Sweet Adelines tell me that 380 is the highest score ever awarded in the competition’s history to an under-17 quartet. The Fource also won the special “Stars to Watch” award. The strong showing in Seattle is just The Fource’s latest accomplishment. The quartet previously won both the 2009 and 2010 New Zealand National Women’s High School Barbershop Quartet Championships.

I first learned about The Fource when I saw their picture in the newspaper during my first week as Ambassador last December. I called them up and asked them to sing at my official welcome reception, where they ended up being a big hit. They came back for an encore months later to sing the national anthems at the Embassy’s Independence Day celebration this past July. While I was in DC earlier this month, Dr. McWaine and a group of my Embassy colleagues went to support the girls’ fundraising concert just before they departed for Seattle.

Overall, Seattle was very friendly (as always) to visiting Kiwis.  Another Wellington area group – Even Time, composed of Claire Takacs, Henrietta Hunkin, Elizabeth Moncrieff, and Shelley Weir – came in 12th out of 50 quartets in the adult category. Choruses from Wellington (Faultline Chorus), Christchurch (Sing Spiration), and Auckland (Greater Auckland Chorus) performed very well in the larger-group categories.

Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sweet Adelines International is a nonprofit music education organization with more the 25,000 members throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Wales. The organization has a particularly strong presence in New Zealand.

Again, heartiest of congratulations to The Fource for their grand accomplishment and to Aotea College for being so supportive of the girls’ talent and hard work. If you haven’t seen the group perform, you should, so watch the newspaper or check the Aotea College website for future concerts.