May 18 2013
Meet the Chorus
Come to the About Us section to meet the director, and find out what we're all about!
Want to sing with a bunch of fabulous women? Want to learn amazing, classic songs? Come to the Join Us section to find out how you can get involved.
Come to the photo gallery to check out our most recent pictures.
What is Barbershop?
Find out about this fabulous artform and the organization of women barbershoppers on our What is Barbershop page.
Support Your Chorus
Find out how you can help support great music in your community!
The Heart of Illinois Chorus, 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. As a member of Midwest Gateway Region 5, the Hearts have been regional champions four times. 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 the Buckeye Invitational in Columbus, OH as well as many events in the Peoria—Bloomington area. This year, we have performed at the Heart of Illinois Fair as well as several other festivals in the area, sung the national anthem at a Chiefs’ game, and performed at the Women’s Lifestyle Show.
To earn money to support our musical activities, the Hearts have worked at the Tazewell Festival Center every Friday night for 15 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.
Gena Sommer directed Heart of Illinois Chorus from 2004 to 2012. Gena has sung in several Regional Championship Quartets, and before coming to the Hearts, she directed the Springfield Chorus.
November 1, 2012, Krista Chmiel began her tenure as the director of the Heart of Illinois Chorus. Krista sang tenor in "Society Rhythm" when they won the Region 5 Quartet Championship twice and earned the right to compete on the International Stage. She also directed the Gateway Sounds Chorus in Collinsville, IL.
The Heart of Illinois Chorus has been the Chorus-in-Residence at Illinois Central College for many years, and we perform two major concerts annually. One show is typically the first Saturday in November. The second concert is presented in May… during the ICC Arts Week Festival. Students can also enroll in a 1-hr music class and attend our rehearsals each semester. It is a great way to enhance singing ability, and learn the joy of performing! In addition to preparing for our annual shows and performances, the Hearts also participate in 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 perform in competition.
Currently, the Hearts have about 60 active, singing members. We have 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.