The Heart of Illinois Chorus, which chartered on January 13, 1982, is an organization of women who like to sing women’s four-part harmony and have fun! We are one of 700 choruses of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to women’s a cappella four-part harmony arranged in a the barbershop style. The HOI chorus now competes in Midwest Harmony Region 3, but the Hearts have been regional champions four times in Region 5. This made us eligible to compete on the International stage in Salt Lake City, UT (1990), Indianapolis, IN (1993), Phoenix, AZ (2003) and Calgary, Alberta, Canada (2007).
The Hearts have also traveled and performed in Austria, and attended the Buckeye Invitational in Columbus, OH, as well as many events in the Peoria—Bloomington area. We have performed at the Heart of Illinois Fair and several other festivals in the area, sung the national anthem at sporting events, and performed at the Women’s Lifestyle Show and Ignite Peoria.
To support our musical activities, the Hearts have volunteered at the Tazewell Festival Center every Friday night for years. We sell raffle games, provide other customer-service duties and have been known to break into song occasionally. We even sang at a wedding which was held at the Festival Center.
The founding director of the Heart of Illinois Chorus was Helen Peters, who was a member of the Jr. Misses—an International Championship Quartet. Helen had previously directed the Belles of Harmony chorus in Peoria. We are currently directed by Lora Wright.
The Heart of Illinois Chorus has been the Chorus-in-Residence at Illinois Central College for many years, and we typically perform a show there annually. Anyone can attend our rehearsals following our Covid protocols. It is a great way to enhance your singing ability, and learn the joy of performing! In addition to preparing for our annual show and performances, the Hearts also participate in a Regional Competition each spring. This is a good way to work toward our goal of musical excellence, and receive feedback about our progress from the Judging Panel. We also learn from watching other choruses and quartets performing in competition. In May of 2022, we were the Most Improved Chorus, improving our score by 42 points out of 800 maximum possible.
We have had members of all ages, some as young as 13 yrs old, who find the Heart of Illinois Chorus a wonderful extension of their lives and families. Look closely and find the mother & daughters and sets of sisters on the risers. The music brings us together from all walks of life and the harmony of barbershop weaves us together like the chords we sing.