Announcement: Sing Canada Harmony Award!

Congratulations, Mary Hager – Sing Canada Harmony Scholarship Recipient! 

In March 2018, Mary Hager, former director of Rhythm of the Rockies, was nominated for the Paul Tamblyn Award offered through Sing Canada Harmony. Thank you to two of our members - Kathy Helfrick and Eileen De Freitas - who submitted the application! 

Following the application, some time went by and we assumed someone else had won the award. But, late last fall we found out that Mary was the winner for 2019! Congratulations, Mary!

The Dr. Paul Tamblyn Music Educator Scholarship is awarded to a choral director who has made a significant impact on the development, promotion and improvement of choral directing and performance in Canada, with preference given to those involved with a cappella choral groups. (

As Mary was planning on retiring as director and from SAI after the 2020 Regional Competition, we thought it would be wonderful to present her award at her retirement party. But, alas, COVID-19 happened in 2020, and her retirement party was postponed. And postponed. And postponed.

So, a couple of weeks ago, our lovely Fran Thorson made a surprise visit to personally present Mary with the award!

“I was blown away when Fran pulled off a surprise presentation at my front door this Saturday. (I was also really pleased I’d washed my hair that morning and was not in my grubby clothes as she videoed the whole thing!!)”

In addition to the National recognition that comes with the award, Mary received a $1,000 prize. She has graciously donated the money right back to Sing Canada Harmony.

“Teaching and learning have been lifelong passions for me but I credit SAI and in particular Rhythm of the Rockies for giving me the opportunity to teach and lead and the support to continue learning and growing. It was their desire to keep getting better that kept me on my toes and always looking for new tools to help us reach that next level.”

Mary made a name for herself and for Rhythm of the Rockies during the 2013 Sweet Adelines International contest (Rhythm of the Rockies’ first time on the International stage). Rhythm of the Rockies took first place and set a record-high score in the Harmony Classic event held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The set was used the following year as a teaching tool worldwide on how to build a successful musical and performance package. 

Mary is recognized in our region as a brilliant educator and Master Director. During her time as a member of the Regional Education Faculty she was regularly invited to coach and mentor other a cappella choruses and their directors throughout the region.

Mary began directing in 1999 and in 2002 she became the founding director of Rhythm of the Rockies Chorus in Calgary. Prior to 2002, Mary sang with two other Alberta choruses and has held the roles of Vocal Production Coach, Show Chair, Script Writer/Producer, Management Team member, Regional Education Faculty, Choreographer, Assistant Director, Certified Director and now Master Director.

Congratulations on this well-deserved award, Mary! Rhythm of the Rockies and Region 26 are so proud of your accomplishments and contributions to the a cappella art form, and so grateful for your friendship, generosity, and vision. Your love for barbershop and commitment to musical education will have a lasting effect in our community for many years to come.  

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