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North Hills Monthly

Pitch Perfect: The Sounds of Pittsburgh Chorus Sings Their Way to International Competition

Nov 01, 2016 06:48AM ● By Clare Heekin Lynch

In the real-life world of a cappella musicians, the ladies of the Sounds of Pittsburgh Chorus are making others take note. They recently represented their four-state region on the international stage for the sixth time, competing as a small- to mid-size group in the Harmony Classic in Las Vegas.

While the final results were not available by press date, the group has won numerous awards in regional and international competitions, where they are judged in four categories—music, sound, expression and showmanship—and have already qualified to participate as a full-size chorus in the international competition in 2017.

For Lois Treloar, singing was always something that she enjoyed as a young woman and it helped her transition smoothly from a hectic business life into retirement. “As I got closer to retiring, I began to wonder what I was going to do with myself locally because I was always traveling for work,” she explained. “About 3-1/2 years ago, I saw a post on the Mt. Lebanon Facebook page regarding a Sweet Adelines open house that piqued my interest. 

“I stopped in, and was immediately hooked on the opportunity it would provide me to do something I love while meeting new people,” she continued. “The chorus has filled a gap and I have learned so much about vocal production under our fantastic musical director, David Wallace.”

The group of about 65 women is a part of the larger chapter of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide organization of women singers committed to advancing the musical art form of barbershop four-part harmony. The group was originally founded in 1974 when 41 women gathered to attend a rehearsal at Christ Episcopal Church in New Brighton. 

“While many changes have taken place over the past 40 years, including the addition of new members, several modifications of the group’s name, and changes in musical leadership, one thing has stayed the same—we all love music,” said Treloar. “The challenge of singing a difficult form of music is what brings us, and keeps us, together.”

The resurgence of this genre of music has been an added blessing. “The hit-show Glee and groups such as Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser have really driven up the popularity of a cappella, and we’re enjoying the diversity of women it has brought to our group,” Treloar said. 

The women come from more than 40 communities in the tristate area. “Two of our assistant directors—Mary Louise McHattie and Sally Doverspike—are from the North Hills and Butler areas, while other members hail from Pittsburgh, Tarentum, Export, and as far as Morgantown and Youngstown,” said Treloar. “Our membership includes people from all walks of life—teachers, students, homemakers, nurses and business owners—it’s  fantastic!”

The group performs at local events, including the Three Rivers Arts Festival, the Pittsburgh Regatta, and First Night, but they are also available for hire for private events. “We do this as a way to fundraise so that we can attend our competitions across the country,” Treloar explained.

Female singers interested in harmonizing with The Sounds of Pittsburgh Chorus are invited to join the Monday night rehearsals at Coraopolis United Methodist Church in Coraopolis. Warm-ups begin at 7 p.m. and singing ends at 9:30 p.m. 

“This is a fun hobby for me,” Treloar shared. “Barbershop singing fills that creative niche for women who want to sing, dance, compete, wear fabulous costumes and learn about show production.” 

Being able to read music isn’t necessary – the group provides learning tracks in order for singers to quickly acquire the songs. “Come see for yourself,” said Treloar. “You’ll find that we’re a welcoming spirit and a real community dedicated to doing our best and having fun!”

For upcoming performances, visit