Passionate Pursuits: Advancing musical art through education and performance

Adala Zelman (right) with Ashley Conway, bass singer of Neon Lights quartet.

The purpose of Excelsior Life’s Passionate Pursuits is to shine a light on faculty and staff successfully balancing work, home and family – just like our students.

Adala Zelman works at Excelsior College in the marketing department. Outside of work, she has a passion for music. She shares her story on following her musical dreams with Capitaland Chorus, the award-winning Albany, NY chapter of Sweet Adelines International.

Excelsior Life: Can you tell us about your passion for music and Sweet Adelines International?

Zelman: I sing with Capitaland Chorus, the award-winning Albany, NY chapter of Sweet Adelines International, which is one of the largest associations of women singers in the world. The organization works to advance the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education, competition, and performance. I also serve on the management team.

Excelsior Life: Why are you passionate about promoting barbershop harmony, and about Sweet Adelines?

Zelman: Joining this chorus has enabled me to develop as a singer and enrich the community through public performance. Research shows that group singing provides many physical and mental health benefits, and serving on the management team has also provided me with leadership experience.

In addition, I’m working to help promote diversity and inclusion across Sweet Adelines. Although long associated with white men in seersucker suits and corncob hats, barbershop harmony was actually developed by African-Americans in the 1800s. It’s important for my chorus to do a better job sharing this musical art form by recruiting singers and attracting audiences who reflect the diversity of our community.

Adala Zelman (left) at the Sweet Adelines international convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, in October 2016.

Excelsior Life: How did you get involved?

Zelman:I joined Capitaland Chorus in November of 2014. I was missing the choral and a cappella groups I sang with during high school, and found them in an online search. As soon as I stepped into the rehearsal room, I was hooked on the amazing sound of the four-part harmony they were singing.

Excelsior Life: How can people learn more about Capitaland Chorus and upcoming performances?

Zelman: The best way to learn about barbershop harmony is to experience it in person! Capitaland Chorus ensembles perform throughout the year at a variety of events. Interested women singers are welcome to drop by our open rehearsals held most Tuesdays at 7:30 pm at Pine Grove Methodist Church (1580 Central Ave) in Albany. For more information, visit

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