TAMPA – The a cappella barbershop harmony of the Toast of Tampa Show Chorus resonated as marvelous music to the ears of judges at the 2013 Sweet Adelines International Convention and Competition.
The 118-member, all-female chorale group took third place in the Nov. 5 - 9 contest in Honolulu featuring 32 of the best Sweet Adelines choruses worldwide.
What undoubtedly caught the judges’ eyes and ears and set the Tampa performers apart from the others choruses were its three youngest performers – Sophia DeRosa, 8, Kylie Kirkman, 8, and Madison Rodgers, 9. Toast of Tampa members’ ages range from 8 to 80.
Also, the fact that the Tampa chorus brought the international audience of some 4,000 people to its feet both after each of their songs and at the end of its final performance on stage at the Hawaii Convention Center most likely impacted the judges’ high marks.
“That in itself was worth all the investment of our time and resources,” said Toast of Tampa director Tony DeRosa, who noted each member was responsible for her own airfare, lodging and meal expenses.
DeRosa said the contest, held every other year in cities and countries throughout the globe, features only cream-of-the-crop choruses that have made it to the international level of competition by winning regional competitions composed of hundreds of choruses.
“So for us it was a huge, huge victory,” said DeRosa of Lakeland, whose Toast of Tampa chorus took home fifth place in the 2011 international competition in Houston.
“I’m blessed to be able to work with these ladies,” he added. “They are extraordinary individuals.”
His mother, Lois DeRosa, also of Lakeland; his sister, Chris DeRosa; his daughter, Sophia; and his niece, Kylie Kirkman were among them.
“We worked so hard to master the vision that Tony had created. ... I don’t know if in my lifetime I’ll ever have more blessed moments than all of those during that wonderful week in Hawaii,” said Lois DeRosa, who noted Tony’s wife, Jodi, and his son, Joseph also accompanied the chorus on the trip.
Toast of Tampa team leader Ruth Walker was on stage with Tony DeRosa to accept the group’s third-place medal.
“There isn’t a word that can describe my feelings, but I just know I would not have traded places with anyone in the world for that joy,” said Walker, who hails from the The Villages in north Florida.
Tiffany Coburn of Clermont was a soloist in the final segment of the competition. She described the third place win as an “absolute thrill.”
“Tony DeRosa is an exceptional visionary and takes us and our audiences to places we never knew we could go emotionally,” said Coburn, also a singer with the Voices of Liberty at Walt Disney World’s Epcot.
Temple Terrace resident Beth Bosserman Curts said there is no greater feeling than to fare so well in a competition against women champions from 15 countries around the world.
“That we are able to bring a tear to the eye and crowds to their feet is such a thrill,” she said.
By contrast, young Madison Rodgers’ take on being on stage in front of such a huge crowd was straight forward and to the point.
“It was really fun,” said Madison, the daughter of Amy and Chris Rodgers of St. Petersburg, who, like all the other members, was required to audition prior to being accepted into the chorus last year.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]