SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Alice Tempel, recycling coordinator for the Borough of South Plainfield and a resident of Piscataway, was recently the recipient of two awards from Jersey Harmony Chorus.
The Jersey Harmony Chorus, under the direction of Kat Britt, is the Princeton, NJ chapter of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and teaching four-part barbershop harmony, which includes lead, tenor, baritone, and bass – for women's voices. Tempel, who sings lead and serves as a section leader and management team coordinator for the a cappella style women's choral ensemble, was presented the chapter's Director's Choice Award as well as its Sweet Adeline of the Year Award.
"The [Director's Choice Award] is given by chorus director, Kat Britt. Each year, she chooses the chorus member who has supported her the most during the year. This year that chorus member is Alice Tempel," said Sandra Hoedemaker, communications team leader for the Jersey Harmony Chorus Board. "No matter what task Kat needed to done, Alice was always there and ready to help, making Kat’s job a whole lot easier than it would have been otherwise."
The Sweet Adeline of the Year Award is given to a member who has shown personal growth, leadership, a positive attitude, and the willingness to take on various tasks to help the chorus succeed with the recipient selected by a member vote.
"Alice joined our board as the team coordinator and helped our chorus stay focused and on track during a very difficult and unusual year due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Hoedemaker said, noting that Tempel also assists the chorus' finance team leader when needed and, for the past several years, has served as lead section leader on the chorus' music team.
"She takes on all these responsibilities while still staying positive. She is a team player who understands the importance of contributing to our organization, and the chorus deeply appreciates her efforts," said Hoedemaker.
"Even with the COVID isolation, when we couldn't meet in person to rehearse, there has been business to attend to… said Tempel, adding, "Being voted member of the year by such a great group is a real honor. I was blown away."
Temple joined the chorus in 2000 following a lengthy hiatus. "I hadn't done any singing since I left the Rutgers Community Choir about 25 years earlier, and I missed it," she said, adding, "Singing barbershop is technically demanding, and I enjoy the challenge as well as the music. When barbershop harmony is done right, it gives you goosebumps."
Members of the Jersey Harmony Chorus include women of all ages, occupations, and backgrounds hailing from New Jersey's Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Ocean, and Somerset counties as well as Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The group's repertoire includes a wide variety of music such as popular ballads, lively up-tunes, jazz, patriotic, and blues, with members rehearsing together, weekly. However, for more than a year, the chorus was unable to sing in person or as a group due to the healthcare crisis.
"Singing is one of the most infectious things you can do, standing right next to people on the risers, exhaling forcibly, and usually with some mist of saliva, for hours," Tempel said, adding that despite weekly Zoom meetings, singing together, virtually, is not possible because of the varying internet time lags.
Instead, members recorded individual selections, which were then put together electronically, and, now that the weather is improving, the group has been able to get together outdoors at each other's homes, socially distanced and masked.
"It's not the same as singing on the risers because you can't hear one another as well, but you would not believe how happy we all are to be able to sing together again," she said.
Additionally, just last week, six members of the chorus – herself included – gathered together to sing TheStar-Spangled Banner and a few other songs at Bound Brook's Memorial Day Ceremony. It was the chorus' first live performance in a year and a half.
"We are looking forward to the time the pandemic abates enough for us to get back into our rehearsal space," Tempel said.
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