Island Hills Chorus Member of Note ~ 2020

Laura Riffaud



     My career in Barbershop has been many years in the making. I started singing in fourth grade. I had amazing teachers from elementary school through high school who exposed me to many musical styles—from traditional SATB to learning how to skat and improvise. I LOVED music. But it was not until 7th grade that I was introduced to barbershop harmony by my chorus teacher, a SPEBSQSA member. I was immediately hooked. All through high school I sang baritone in a quartet. We performed in nursing homes, at Rotary events, and at people’s parties. In 1976, my quartet attended an IHC rehearsal. The director, George Avener, was so welcoming. He allowed us to sing many of his arrangements— Lucky Day, Here Comes Charlie, Am I Blue?, Something,...and of course, Soldier! Incredible arrangements! 1978 was the year I graduated from high school and in that same year, IHC won the international contest. I feel that I have been connected to IHC for most of my life.
     My passion for four part harmony brought me back to Island Hills in 1994, after the birth of my first daughter. I immediately started my search for a quartet. Barbara Festa was my baritone section leader. I switched to tenor so we could form a quartet. We sang in Rhythm & Rhyme for many years and competed 6 times until our bass, Blanche Leunig, relocated to Maine. After Blanche moved, we met Teresa Heuser who was singing with GNC at the time. We formed Savoir Faire and competed three times, placing 4th at one of our Regional contests. We had coaching on a regular basis, and attended classes and vocalfest, through the years. And I took private vocal lessons periodically to improve my education. During those years and under the direction of Dave, Scott and Wayne, I learned a great deal.
     A couple of years ago I became an empty nester and was able to devote more of my time to music. I officially joined the Music Team, formed the quartet “It’s All Relative” with fellow chorus members Robin DiDomenico, Kara Dashnaw and Barbara, and was invited to become an Assistant Director. In that role, I have directed our chorus in a few public performances, and I just love it! During the pandemic our director decided to step down and I have been co-directing IHC with my dear friend, Barbara. When we stepped up to lead the chorus together, it felt like a very natural next step. It has been an exciting challenge. I look forward to growing in this role, and am excited to see what the future holds.
     Barbershop harmony has been a part of my life for so long that I can hardly remember a time without it. My love of singing harmony has even passed to my two daughters. Sofia sings with Karen Sweeters and Nina sings with Sirens. Nina is also the bass in “Perfect Fourth”, a young quartet in our region. Being a Sweet Adeline and a member of IHC has been and will continue to be, so important to me.
     I am so grateful for the people I have met and the opportunities membership in SAI has brought me!


Laura is a great asset to our chorus!

We are so proud to name her

Member of Note of 2020

October 18, 2021

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