Welcome to Renate's Baton. This blog is mostly for and about my choir, The York Region Community Choir.

But, While I'm holding the baton, I'm in charge. So, if I want to talk about other parts of my life, I will. :)

The choir itself is a community and I'm discovering that we have a lot in common with one another besides our love of music and singing.

When I go off on a tangent, there is always a crowd coming along. Join us!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We Are Winter is almost here and we are ready!

Wow! Amazing last rehearsal!

Go to the website and sign in to find the final order and also to find the dates, times, locations, and orders for the seniors' visits and the Probus performance. Here's a link to the website.

Click here to read an old post of mine about performances.

Remember to take care of your voice and try to smile and at least look relaxed. Frowning into your binders isn't attractive. When you look like you're having fun, the audience has more fun. Let's give them a wonderful afternoon. We have lots of beautiful music, some things they've never heard before that will amaze them.

I'm excited to have a few of my friends and family members coming. I hope you have some familiar faces in the audience. It helps. Give someone tickets as a present. It's way better than a box of chocolate or cookies, and we'll have sweets at intermission together!

Don't forget to bake and bring serving-size stuff for the bake sale and mark things as nut-free or with nuts.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 24th-Last Regular Rehearsal of 2014

6:30- Sapphire and Renate recorded one accompaniment for spring, and the bass part of Christmas in our Hearts.
6:45 Christmas in our Hearts is so pretty! We reviewed all parts at Fam- lies and friends...

Our warm-up was Magic of Winter. It's a good warm-up because you have to watch carefully for all your starts and stops and work as a team, and it starts off soft and easy. There's a lot of dynamics (loud and soft) and it's really pretty.

Blue Skies. Watch for your snapping starts and stops. Jazz hands at the end on the last word (on). Heather and Janet are the smoothest scat singers anywhere!

Somewhere a Child is Sleeping. Watch out: you'll be tempted to make "Bless all the little children" the biggest part. Hold back a bit here so that you can make "so we might love each other" the loudest part. It will also help if you always make "somewhere a child is sleeping, a child was born on Christmas day" soft and pretty. Bill rocks!

You Raise Me Up is always beautiful, and I think this version of ours is the very best yet! Go, Stanley!

The Hockey Song is so much fun! Gerry is perfect as the announcer! Great! Wayne! Gretsky!

They All Call it Canada will make all the hearts swell with pride in our beautiful country! "My country is my cathedral. The northern sky its dome...When you look up and sing this to the audience, they'll shiver. Sopranos- on page 9, "I call it home" sounds a bit like an ending. Go up there; it's okay.

O Holy Night Both groups of soloists were wonderful! All the ahs and oohs were very good! It's awesome. Just remember that bar on page 6, at 63, the "oh" of "oh hear" is on the second beat, longer than you want it. On the second verse, "oh praise" you do it right every time.

At break, you might have heard Teija and Heather's duet and Trix's solo. Next week you'll also hear the Huron Carol small group and Janet and Kevin's duet.

Next week, December 1st, we will run through the order for the concert. We won't sing all the way through all of the songs, but just enough to feel how it will work. We need to rehearse how to walk in and out, how to get on stage and off stage when the soloists and small groups perform, and the soloists all need a chance to rehearse with microphones. If you can't be there, let someone near you in your section know so they can save a spot for you and lead you on Sunday. There is not much time before our show to go over anything. 

Soloists and instrumentalists come at 6:30 and small groups at 7:00. We start punctually at 7:30, so come before to settle in and take your coats off, etc. 

I'll send out the order as soon as I set it, so that you can put your binders in order for Monday. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 17 rehearsal review and November 24

Wow! We're getting close!

We had really wintry weather! Baby, it was cold outside.
Breath of Heaven met early and sounded perfect.

We warmed up with stretches and wiggles and the chorus of 1. They All Call it Canada.

Then, we sang the whole thing, but a lot of people forgot to look up at page 10 when we sing that chorus. Make a note at the bottom of page 9 to look up and sing the chorus.

2. Baby, It's Cold Outside was fun and so appropriate! remember vicious and suspicious go all the way to the next word, so that we all say the s at the same moment.

3. Button Up Your Overcoat was also perfect for the cold, cold evening. Timing is key, here. Review how it goes on pages 7 and 8 especially.

4. In the Bleak Midwinter. Todd did a great job on my favourite part (snow was falling snow on snow, snow on snow.) We watched our dynamics and it was awesome!

5. O Holy Night. We went over our parts for Truly he taught us to love one another. It's awesome. It has to be really strong there. The second string soloists sang and it was wonderful.

6. We Rise Again. It was Heather's night tonight. She's Kristen's back-up too, and she rocked We Rise Again. We reviewed the Tenor and Bass lines at section C, since they're so good. Be sure not to sing too loud, Sopranos and Altos. We want to hear the tenors and basses here.

7. Welcome, Welcome Winter. We're a bunch of tough Canadians and we welcomed the wintry night with this moody and dramatic, but fun song. Remember to enunciate and watch what you're singing, especially with slipping and sliding the first time and later, slipping sliding down as we head to the end, slower and softer.

Next week, November 24:

Sapphire recording at 6:30
Christmas in Our Hearts at 6:45
Kristen at 7:10

  1. Blue Skies
  2. Hockey Song
  3. Magic of Winter
  4. O Holy Night
  5. Somewhere A Child is Sleeping
  6. They All Call it Canada
  7. We Rise Again
  8. You Raise Me Up

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mon. Nov. 10 at St. Andrew's and Mon. Nov. 17 at the Admin Ctr

November 10th
Heather rehearsed Winter Song with Sapphire. It's going to be a duet with Teija.
Heather and Robyn rehearsed the Olympic Fanfare and Theme with Sapphire.

We talked about this Saturday's carolling gig for Doane House. Contact Roxanne if you can join a small group of YRCC members to sing Christmas carols at a craft show Saturday from 1-3 at the Newmarket Community Centre. Visit the craft sale from 10-4. See our Facebook Page for their ad.

Sign up for the December 11th performance! We had a lot of hands raised but only 4 signed up. This is an important event for us. Please make every effort to participate.

Michelle and Roxanne started selling concert tickets.
Jane started taking orders for poinsettias.

Warm-ups included stretching and yawning :-)

1. Wonderful World was wonderful ;-)

2. On Eagle's Wings was also wonderful. We remembered our "make you to shine like the sun" parts.

3. O Holy Night: We reviewed the oohs and changed some to aahs. They can all be a bit stronger. Our soloists are excellent and so strong that we have to support them a bit more with our parts.
14: Tenors come in louder, smooth with no breaths audible within the phrase line. Here it's ooh.
18: Altos come in strong, also smooth with no breaths audible within the phrase line. Stagger breathing if necessary. Here, it's still ooh.
43: Everybody oohs here. Sopranos and Altos can get their note, middle C, from Sapphire's part, most bars start with a middle C. Also, Mary-Ellen's last note is a middle C. Altos are used to finding that third-down-from-melody note.
52: Everybody switches to aah here, when all 3 soloists are singing. The next word is Fall. It sounds great.
101: Altos and Tenors ooh here.
110: Everyone aahs with sopranos joining in. Next word is Christ, with a big open mouth, so it almost sounds like Chraah-ist.
Coda: last note is Hm, as written.

Next week we'll review the Truly he taught us parts. It has to be good and strong here.

4.In The Bleak Midwinter: We missed Todd, but Kristen did a great job on the solos. Watch the dynamics. When we paid attention to dynamics, the last page was 200% better! One key was for the Sopranos and Altos to come in soft and pretty, way up in their heads, with no chest. Keep soft coming in on the second line, even Tenor and Bass. Follow the arrows to get louder and softer. That third line is all soft, until the very last note, the sopranos "Yet". (everyone else can get a bit louder on their 'yet's too) After a very loud "heart", everyone is very soft for the last phrase, and fades to super soft.

5.We Rise Again: We reviewed the Soprano 2 part at the end. Next week we'll get the Tenors and Basses to fix their timing at  bar 22. Take a look. You're holding the note as if you're singing the melody. You're not. You're with Sop.1. We'll review the oohs and aahs next week.

6. Blue Skies: we went a bit late, but it was fun, and we remembered to do the jazz hands (most of us).

November 17th

6:30: Recording
6:45 Breath of Heaven

  1. Baby it's Cold
  2. Button Up
  3. O Holy Night
  4. They All Call it Canada
  5. We Rise Again
  6. Welcome, Welcome Winter
Buy tickets from Michele and Roxanne! Advance tickets are 2/$25 for a $5 saving.
Order poinsettias from Jane to take home after the show.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Monday, Nov. 3 YRCC Review and Preview of Nov 10

Monday, November 3
No small groups met early. Sapphire and I recorded parts for a Bach piece that we're singing in the spring.
Kristen went through her piece. It was beautiful.
Huron Carol Group met after choir.

Warm-ups included a rhythm exercise/physical warm-up and we all sang the chorus of They All Call it Canada, from memory. We're all going to memorize that bit (pg 10-11).

1. The Hockey Song was great fun, as usual. We were perfect on Great! Wayne! Gretsky! Kevin was the announcer without a whistle...

2. Button Up Your Overcoat was excellent. Carol did the cutie bits. The tenors and basses were nice and strong on the beginning, once they realized it was a competition (they could sing louder than me, but barely).

3. On Eagle's Wings: we worked on the words "make you to shine like the sun". They come up 4 times, and each time they're different. Review your parts. Find them on pages 2, 4, 6, and 8.

4. O Holy Night is coming along beautifully. Our second-string soloists were up front and did a great job, especially Heather who didn't know she was Mary-Ellen's back-up :-)

5. We Rise Again. We love singing this one! I love hearing Kristen's solo. But, we did work on it first. We reviewed all parts at section C, on page 5, and all of the first soprano parts.

Next week: Sapphire and Heather are meeting at 7:00 to review Teija and Heather's piece.

Monday, November 10

  1. Blue Skies
  2. Bleak Midwinter
  3. O Holy Night
  4. On Eagle's Wings
  5. We Rise Again
  6. Wonderful World

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oct 27 YRCC Rehearsal and Preview to Nov 3

Oct 27
6:30 Christmas in Our Hearts
6:50 Breath of Heaven

Warm-up included being loud. We yelled, carefully and with lots of air to support us, "Hey! That's my car!" It was fun :-)

We had some announcements: We've been asked to sing at a Probus event. Christmas theme and sing-alongs. It's over the lunch hour on a Thursday.
Keep your eyes on the Events page on the website. There will be things to sign up for. Christmas season singing is so much fun. Make sure you participate in some of the upcoming performances!

1. They All Call it Canada has to be strong throughout, so we're adding everyone to the Tenor/Bass solo at page 10. Everyone sings the melody together in unison. Make sure the words are strong and clear. Enunciate really well.

2. Bleak Midwinter is awesome! We did really well transitioning from the solos to the whole choir. Now that we know our parts, we need to work on dynamics. There's quite a bit of movement in the volume.

3. O Holy Night is amazing! You guys are so good! We reviewed the oohs and aahs and they're really very good already. We sang through the whole thing with the soloists.

4. Somewhere A Child is Sleeping is beautiful with Bill singing the solo at the beginning!

5. You'll Never Walk Alone was stunning, as usual.

6. We decided not to sing Button Up Your Overcoat last so that we don't have it in our heads all week. So, we sang Magic of Winter instead. It was perfect! Just writing BUYO has got it playing in my head now! It's such a sticky melody!

Nov 3- no small groups
6:30 Sapphire recording
7:00 Kristen

  1. Button Up Your Overcoat
  2. Hockey Song
  3. Bleak Midwinter
  4. O Holy Night
  5. On Eagle's Wings
  6. We Rise Again
Sorry, this is late. I've been really tired after work. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mon Oct 20 and Mon Oct 27 YRCC Rehearsals

Mon. Oct. 20
Christmas in Our Hearts met at 6:30 and got to the end. It's beautiful!
Warm-ups included massages.

  1. Welcome Winter: we did really well! We remembered to enunciate and sing the slipping and sliding parts clearly and correctly. We remembered to sing softer to hear the tenor/bass section.
  2. Bleak Midwinter: Awesome! We only need to work on timing between the solo and choir parts and dynamics. We got through the whole thing!
  3. O Holy Night: Fantastic! We learned all the ahs (actually written mostly as hm, but all oo). They weren't bad at all, but we need to do them a few times to feel comfortable. We have lots of time! We got through the whole song!!! It was a bit too fast, but we did it!
  4. You Raise Me Up with Stanley singing the first verse is just amazing! We had to hold back our tears instead of holding back our voices. Perfect!
  5. Button Up Your Overcoat: Trix did all the goofy bits in the soprano line. We fixed the subway problem! We're not going to hold the awful grating sound. We jump off the subway, and that way we can hear the tenor/bass part!
At break, we've been hearing Robyn playing flute, rehearsing with Sapphire. They, along with Heather on French horn, will play the Olympic Fanfare and Theme as a processional. We walk in like we're entering the Olympic Opening Ceremonies! And then, we sing "This is my country; this is my land, my own Canadian land. This is my home..." Should be really special!

Mon. Oct. 27 (Election night)
We're having treats and coffee at break
Christmas in our Hearts 6:30
Breath of Heaven 6:50
  • Button Up Your Overcoat
  • Bleak Midwinter
  • O Holy Night
  • Somewhere A Child (Bill)
  • You'll Never Walk Alone
  • They All Call it Canada

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thanksgiving Monday Rehearsal and preview to next week

We had a productive rehearsal on Thanksgiving Monday! It was so good, we were able to finish early, at 9:00. It was very nice to have Jonathan singing with us :-)

We started off with a head-massage warm-up and the tongue twister: A knapsack strap, the strap of a knapsack. We warmed up our voices with ng.

Baby it's Cold Outside was excellent. We reviewed the harmony bits and the end. We'll have to go over them with everyone else too. Just need to remember them.

Button Up Your Overcoat was also excellent. We just have the same messy spot as last time: that's on the subway. Grrr. We'll go over that a gazillion times, I'm sure. Something for First Sopranos to keep in mind: the ending is short and light. Those of you who are singing the First Soprano part, stay light and crisp at the end on those high notes: you belong to me! Altos and all Sopranos, remember to hold back and not sing too loud whenever the tenors are singing melody, which is a lot of the time. And, at the end they have a cool part which needs to be heard.

Bleak Midwinter: we went ahead to the last page! It's not bad, very much like the second page which we learned last time. The ending is cool and special! You can hear your part online on our website!

O  Holy Night: we went ahead to the next section where we're in 3-part harmony after Fall on your knees/ the chorus, Truly he taught us... Next week we start the ahs! This is online too so you can continue to learn your part at home.

On Eagle's Wings was awesome as usual. We didn't review those tricky Alto bits. Next time.

Hockey Song: not the same without Gerry, but still fun. Don't forget to be strong and short on Great! Wayne! Gretsky!

Monday, October 20th

6:30 Christmas in Our Hearts

  1. Button Up Your Overcoat
  2. In the Bleak Midwinter
  3. O Holy Night
  4. They All Call it Canada
  5. Welcome, Welcome Winter
  6. You Raise Me Up

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Monday, October 6th Review and Preview of Thanksgiving Monday's Rehearsal

Monday, Oct. 6

The Christmas in Our Hearts small group met at 6:30 and made excellent progress on their first rehearsal!
Nobody meets next week, but this group will meet again the following week, Oct. 20th. The accompaniment recording is now online :-)

Warm-ups included stretches, breathing and "scooby-doos"

Blue Skies warmed us up, on a dark and rainy night; it was just what we needed. I forgot about adding the "jazz hands" ending. At the end, on the word "on", everyone does a jazz hand with their right hands. Don't forget, Sopranos snap at the beginning and everyone snaps during the solos in the middle.

Button Up Your Overcoat is done! Well, we got to the end. It will take some review, but I'm very happy with the work we did! We learned everything from page 9 to the end. Be sure to pay attention to the dynamics (fff, mp hushed, etc)! It's very dramatic. Oh! I forgot to decide what to do about the spoken parts in the soprano line. And, I meant to do that to announce it as a solo. That will have to be Trix, of course, and Carol can back her up.

We started In the Bleak Midwinter and learned the whole second page (4). We did a sight-reading through the whole song, and some of you remember it very well from a few years ago! It's really quite difficult, but very rewarding. It's beautiful. The timing is hard, as every part has its own special timing. I make every beat clear and try to give you in-between bits too (hair). But, you have to know which beat is yours. The recordings are up, so you can review your part. Yay! 

O Holy Night is similarly difficult and also very, very rewarding. We had gone through the whole piece a while ago, so we went straight to bar 60, "Fall on your knees". It's exceptionally powerful. I especially love singing "His power and glory" because I really feel the power and the glory in the music! Our arrangement is spectacular!

Things to note (really; note them on your music in pencil):
Altos at bar 68 have a rest on the +of 4, under the Soprano note for "di". You might want to scratch out that Soprano note, so it doesn't bother you.
SAB at bar 71 sing "vi-ine-O-night" So, on the + of 4, it's kind of like "no-night"
Altos at bar 72 your "night" moves up on beat 1 of bar 73. Cool.
Sopranos, at the top of the page at bars 78 and 79, it says "sing cues 2nd time". Everyone can ignore them and just sing the regular part, except for Mary Ellen who will sing those cues the 2nd time as a descant part.
SAB bar 80 and bar 81: the cues are for the words of the second chorus that starts "Christ is the Lord" at 60. Here, there's an extra syllable that needs a note. For the first chorus, we sing "night" on beat 1 of bar 80 and hold it briefly until "O" on beat 1 of bar 81 (ignoring the cues). For the second chorus, we sing the cues: the word ever divides: "e" on beat 1 of bar 80 and "ver" very quickly just before "mo" on beat 1 of 81. The word "more" also divides into two notes. So it's kind of like, e--vermo--or proclaim. Don't worry; we'll review all of this (probably a few times).

Welcome, Welcome Winter was fabulous, but not perfect. That's okay. It was nearly perfect. Here's what you need to do: Look at the words in bars 46-52 and 83-84. They need to be clear and the timing has to be crisp and together. Don't add any syllables, and don't hesitate on the words and smush them up (technical music term?). If you do nothing else, read the words and get them clear and confident. The recordings for this are online. You can review your part.

Thanksgiving Monday, October 13th

Nobody has to be there early. Set-up will be at 7:15.

  1. Baby it's Cold Outside
  2. Button Up Your Overcoat
  3. Hockey Song
  4. In the Bleak Midwinter
  5. O Holy Night
  6. On Eagle's Wings

Solos Announced

Yesterday, I announced all the solos.
Here they are:

Blue Skies: 1. Heather/ Trix 2. Janet/ Lauren
Button Up Your Overcoat (forgot to announce): Trix/Carol
Hockey Song: Gerry
In the Bleak Midwinter: Todd/Kristen
O Holy Night:1. Mary Ellen/Heather 2. Debbie/Cathy 3. Robyn/Tracey
Somewhere a Child is Sleeping: Bill/Mary Ellen
We Rise Again: Kristen/Heather
You Raise Me Up: Stanley/Bill

Let it Go: Kristen
River: Trix
Winter Song: Heather and Teija
Christmas Medley: Janet, Kevin, and Kevin
Huron Carol: Lauren, Mona, Roxanne, Stanley

Thank you to everyone who bravely offered to sing solos! 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review of Monday, Sept. 29th, and preview of Monday, Oct. 6th

Monday, September 29th

I was hoping for a cold night, but we had a beautiful day and it was still warm in the evening. I had planned so much wintry stuff and our surprise was that we sang Let it Go from Frozen! It's perfect for our theme: We Are Winter: Survive, Celebrate, Sing!

Our solo songs will be Let it Go, sung by Kristen, River, sung by Trix, Winter Song, a duet, with Teija and Heather, and the Huron Carol, a quartet.

Our first small group, Breath of Heaven, met at 6:30 for the second time and they are doing really well, which I expected. It's an especially beautiful song that we've sung before and so many in the group remembered it very well!

Our warm-ups included roller coasters: oooooeeeeeeooooo and we let all the stress of the day go with Let it Go!

Baby it's Cold Outside was so good, we could have performed it for an audience! The key was to get the altos and sopranos to sing softer so that we could hear the tenors and basses. Everyone was excellent with when to hold their notes and when to stop. The harmony parts are really pretty!

We sang the Magic of Winter and it was beautiful! The key, again, was to have the sopranos and altos softer, especially at the beginning, to balance with the tenors and basses. There's the same kind of back-and-forth and overlapping.

We Rise Again: we went over the first soprano parts for each section. They're all different. The last one is the simplest, even though it has some of the highest notes, and there are some lower notes where you expect high ones to be.  Be careful! The tenors and basses have a beautiful part at the first chorus. We reviewed their parts and it was awesome. Make sure you can hear them in good balance with the melody in the alto and second soprano parts, and try to keep the first soprano part a bit softer too. I'm very happy with how much this song has improved!

Welcome, Welcome Winter impressed me! There was a fair amount of stress about this one, but it's very strong. The first time through, it was a bit messy and we just tried again and fixed most of the issues! We reviewed bars 15-18 and 52-53 where it's not easy to remember who sings what. Mark your part with pencil, and maybe scratch out the part that you don't sing. When the sopranos and altos are holding a note and the tenors and basses are singing "Welcome, welcome" under them, make sure you can hear the tenor and bass part.

We continued with the next section of Button Up Your Overcoat, the strident "that's on the subway" and the fun "Don't eat fat food" part (bars 55-63). The key with the word subway is to be confident with your part and to stick to it. You might feel the need to adjust your note to sound nicer, but it's supposed to sound harsh. "Stay on your rail."

Monday, October 6th

6:30 Christmas in Our Hearts

  1. Baby it's Cold Outside
  2. Blue Skies
  3. In the Bleak Midwinter (soloist: Todd)
  4. O Holy Night (soloists TBD)
  5. Welcome, Welcome Winter

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Surprise for Choir next Monday

It's a secret.
Hint: I hope it's a cold day next Monday.
Be sure to come to choir next Monday for a fun surprise.

September 22 Rehearsal Review, and Sept. 29 Preview

Rehearsal Review: Monday, Sept. 22

Breath of Heaven small group met for the first time at 6:30 and we got through the whole piece! It's beautiful! We'll meet again next week, and then Christmas in Our Hearts meets on October6. Sapphire and I gave everyone a bit of a sample of how it sounds, in hopes of attracting more members to that group. We need 2 Tenors and 2 Basses, 3 Sopranos and 3 Altos for Christmas in Our Hearts, so please go to the sign-up on the website and see if we still need you!

Our warm-up featured conga-line massages! We love those :-)

1. We warmed up our voices with What a Wonderful World. It was wonderful ;-)  We reviewed the middle part where the Sopranos and Altos sing "The colours of the rainbow..." and then the Tenors and Basses sing "Are also on the faces..." The tenors and basses were strong and blended well! We talked about how to pronounce our 't's in "what a wonderful world". Some people are being very careful to say whatta wonderful, while most of us are saying whadda wonderful (it's not really a 'd' sound, but a Canadian flap). I prefer a natural pronunciation, especially for jazzy songs such as this. We do have to be careful to enunciate always, but, I think we can be clear while using our Canadian pronunciation. And, I argued that singing things differently from the way you say them can make the words even more difficult to understand. All that being said, I don't really mind if some of us pronounce things a bit differently. We are multicultural after all. And, after all that, I didn't pay attention to how we were pronouncing "Button Up" ( ba-tin or ba-'n? or some of both?)

2. Magic of Winter was next. We were careful to watch our rests, to make sure we weren't holding our notes too long. There were 2 places where there was some tenor/bass voices holding too long: bar 12 and 31-there's a 2 beat rest, so you can only hold the note for 2 beats. Other than that, it was very good! I'm very happy with how strong the tenor and bass section was last night!

3. We went right to work on the next section of Button Up Your Overcoat, at bar 34. We were careful with rests here too, and noticed that there is a mistake in bar 36. There's an extra beat. We decided to colour in the last note to make it a quarter note instead of a half, and to observe the rest. That makes the first oo shorter than the second, but the Tenor/Bass part is different too, so it makes sense to me. We sang all the way through to bar 55, having gone over the beginning with the Tenors and Basses. We haven't decided yet what to do about those funny little solos in the Soprano line. Maybe Trix?

4.We finished learning Baby it's Cold Outside! All we had to do was learn bars 35 and 71 and the ending, which we did splendidly! It so much fun! What a cute song! We'll keep watching the rests and how long to hold notes here too. To hold, or not to hold: that is the question!

5.The Hockey Song was great, and great fun! Have fun with this one and don't stress. Just watch for when to come in, especially after the announcer bits.

6. Somewhere a Child is Sleeping. I forgot to mention this song when we were talking about solos. Mary Ellen has done the first verse as a solo (up to bar 28) and is willing to do it for us again. I love her voice and this song is a nice showcase for a good soloist. It doesn't look like a hard thing to sing, but it takes good control and a clear lower and higher register. It's also quite long. Robyn bravely gave it a try. Thanks, Robyn!

7. We did a quick preview of O Holy Night, to see how the solos go. It's quite a grand production with lots of stuff going on. Notice that only the first one is a real solo, the next one is a duet over the choir singing oohs, and the third one is a trio over oohs or ahs. I'll assign 3 soloists and 3 back-ups for this song. I've had lots of people come forward to offer their talents, so it will take me some time to decide.

Next week, September 29

Small group: Breath of Heaven at 6:30

  1. Baby it's Cold Outside
  2. Button Up Your Overcoat
  3. Magic of Winter
  4. We Rise Again
  5. Welcome, Welcome Winter

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Breath of Heaven Small Group

Here's a video of a small choir doing our version of Breath of Heaven.

We will make sure to have a good strong Alto section for this! The Sopranos should be softer, as they're not singing melody.

Also, I found a post here on my blog with our accompaniment so you can start singing!

I love this song! Can't wait for next week!

Rehearsal Review of Sept.15, and Preview of Sept. 22

In case you missed choir yesterday (rain, traffic,...), here's what we did.

Warm ups included massages and pianissimo (pp=very quiet). We sang mm, oo, aah, like in We Rise Again, to warm up our voices.

  1. On Eagle's Wings was beautiful, and although the altos reported some stress on Sunday (which I didn't hear), we sounded excellent. We didn't review anything. Maybe next time, we will look at the Alto parts each time you sing "make you to shine like the sun". If you have time, Altos, review those bits. Hopefully, we'll have the parts on the recordings page on our website soon.
  2. We Rise Again is a stunning piece of music! We went directly to the mm-oo-aah section (starting at #13) and reviewed parts there. We were quite loud, but it was okay because when we're learning our parts, it helps to be strong. Remember that we're singing below the solo, only that ah under the f is loud until the soloist comes back in on the pick-up to bar 16. The next section of ahs, at #29 is really hard, but you were all excellent! I was especially proud of the sopranos who don't like this kind of thing. Altos and Tenors, remember to build up and be strong on the last line where you have special bits. Next time we sing this, we'll work on the Soprano1 parts and the Tenor and Bass parts. Altos, you are probably thrilled with all the melody you have! 
  3. Button Up Your Overcoat was fun! We learned 2 pages, and sight-read through the whole thing. Your sight reading is getting really good! With only a handful of people who had ever sung this piece, it actually sounded quite good. It's not an easy piece, but it's fun and cute!
  4. After our coffee break (Thank you, Debbie!) we sang You Raise Me Up, and it was really special! I decided to change things by having the first verse sung as a solo. Stanley is going to be the soloist (we love to hear his voice) and Bill will be the back-up (he introduced us to this song years ago, around the time we sang Button Up). It will be so much more dramatic, and it becomes something new for us and for our audience. 
  5. Baby It's Cold Outside is so much fun! We sight read through it, and it was pretty good already! Everyone gets tons of melody!!! There are only 3 places where there's harmony (on the words cold outside) and they're not hard. We actually learned half of the song in a short time! 
  6. They All Call it Canada is such a strong piece, and we keep getting better with it. The things to review here are "from the Atlantic to the Pacific" and getting the Tenors and Basses to come in strong at their special part, and to blend together for a good solid sound. We want that to sound like one man singing the words nice and clear. 
At break time, Lauren shared Enid's words of thanks for our contribution to her last service on Sunday and for the flowers we sent. We also heard from Trix, who was very happy with our performance at her wedding. We looked and sounded fabulous! Lauren announced the equipment set up people for the next 2 weeks. Look for that list to go up on the website soon. I talked about solos and small groups, and got a few more suggestions. I should be able to let you know soon which ones will be in the show. The solos in songs are very limited, there are only 3 in O Holy Night, so I'm afraid some people will be disappointed. I'll choose 3 back-ups too, but that's still only 6 people.

Remember to check through your binder and let Trix know if you're missing any of the music. Send her an email before next week, please!

The first small group rehearsal is next Monday! Breath of Heaven starts Monday, September 22 at 6:30, or as soon as you can be there. Sign up for that, please, and keep your eyes on the Calendar for small group info. 

Next week's songs will be:
  • Baby it's Cold Outside
  • Button Up Your Overcoat
  • Hockey Song
  • Magic of Winter
  • Wonderful World

Monday, September 15, 2014

We Rise Again notes for new folks

If you're new, and you're a Soprano or Tenor, you'll need to read this post on We Rise Again, or ask someone in your section to help you to be certain where you sing. Only the Altos and Basses are singing their usual lines. Tenor and Soprano move around a bit, and that post from last year will tell you where.

You can also find the post by using the "Search This Blog" box.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Solo songs and small groups: please contact me asap

This was part of my last post, but I thought I should make a separate post just for this. Please think about adding a solo song, or duet, or small group to our concert. Let me know soon so I can figure out what best fits our theme and plan the show.

Our concert on December 7th will be called: We Are Winter: Survive, Celebrate, Sing!" We'll have fun singing about winter weather and our Canadian response to it.

If you have a song that you think fits our theme, I'm looking for a couple of solos and/or duets, and maybe another small group.

I've asked Trix to sing River for us again, since I think it fits perfectly with our theme (Joni Mitchell, skating, Christmas).

We have 2 small groups planned: Breath of Heaven (SSA) and Christmas in Our Hearts (SATB). And, Janet and the Kevins will cook something up for us as usual.

A traditional Christmas song would be a good addition (a hymn or something like I'll be Home For Christmas), and how about something 'multicultural' (we only have Shine Hanukkah)? Also, maybe a beach escape song (Margaritaville?).

Let me know ASAP if you have a song you'd like to sing for us. Normally, several people come forward with ideas and I choose a few that fit in with how I see the show coming together. If I don't get enough volunteers, then I start scouting.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September! Exciting New Beginnings!

I"m so glad September is finally here!

It's not that I don't love summer, but I've always loved school and the beginning of the new school year. Now, I also have the beginning of the choir year to love! I've been anticipating this September more than most. It's not just "back to school" for us in my house. Soraya is going to University and Victoria is starting High School.

For the past few weeks, we've been preparing for Soraya's move to Toronto. Making lists, buying things, gathering things, laundry, packing, stressing, ... it's been fun and nerve-wracking. We finally moved her in yesterday. Wow! They do a good job of making you feel welcome in residence! It was awesome. I didn't fall to pieces. We didn't forget anything major. Soraya's already planning to come home for Trix's wedding, on September 12th, so I'll see her again soon.

Victoria's first day at Newmarket High will also be exciting. They have all kinds of fun things planned and we don't have to worry about lunch on the first day, because they're having a barbecue.

I'll be happy to have routines again. I've got a lot of work to do that I've put off while the focus was on the girls. And, my regular choir life will start again. Back to Choir!

I've been busy with choir things all summer, and tomorrow Sapphire will be here making recordings with me, but it's not the same. I miss our Monday nights. I miss everybody. I can't wait to see you all again and start rehearsing the "We Are Winter" music!

Our concert on December 7th will be called: We Are Winter: Survive, Celebrate, Sing!" We'll have fun singing about winter weather and our Canadian response to it.

If you have a song that you think fits our theme, I'm looking for a couple of solos and/or duets, and maybe another small group.

I've asked Trix to sing River for us again, since I think it fits perfectly with our theme (Joni Mitchell, skating, Christmas).

We have 2 small groups planned: Breath of Heaven (SSA) and Christmas in Our Hearts (SATB). And, Janet and the Kevins will cook something up for us as usual.

A traditional Christmas song would be a good addition (a hymn or something like I'll be Home For Christmas), and how about something 'multicultural' (we only have Shine Hanukkah)? Also, maybe a beach escape song (Margaritaville?).

Let me know ASAP if you have a song you'd like to sing for us. Normally, several people come forward with ideas and I choose a few that fit in with how I see the show coming together. If I don't get enough volunteers, then I start scouting.

YRCC Executive 2014/2015

the Executive of the York Region Community Choir 
for the 2014/2015 Choir Year:

The Executive works together with the Director and Accompanist, and the Reading Committee, to choose music, decide when and where we sing, and make sure people are there to sing and to hear us sing, and take care of our equipment, finances, website and music library.The Executive is elected and the Reading Committee, Conductor and Accompanist are appointed. 

Our President is Lauren Solar (laurensolar@gmail.com). This is Lauren's second year as President. Lauren is responsible for everything happening. 

Our Vice-President is Heather Vickers (hvickers@bell.net). With experience as President and Public Relations Chair for the YRCC, Heather will be there to help Lauren and anyone else on the executive when they need a hand. Heather is also one of the Assistant Directors, helping to rehearse small groups. 

Our new Public Relations Chair is Roxanne McCormick (roxannemccormick@rogers.com)If you need to contact us regarding advertising, or to book us for a concert, or just need some information, contact Roxanne. The PR role is to keep us connected to the community.  

Daphne Young (youngdc@rogers.com) is our Secretary/Treasurer, having taken over from Michele Horton 2 years ago. If you want to write us a cheque, make it out to York Region Community Choir, and Daphne will put it in our account. We accept cash too. Daphne will keep our paperwork in order, creating and maintaining records like the minutes of our meetings and accounting stuff. Michele will support Daphne and will continue to represent us when we share condolences and congratulations. 

Trix Verge (trix.verge@gmail.com) is our Music Librarian and Webmaster. She has our music collection in her basement and makes sure we all have music to sing every Monday, and has extra binders made up for guests, or people who are checking us out. If you have a binder of music that belongs to us and want to know how to get it back to us, contact Trix. Trix is the one to go to for help using the website (although any member of the executive can also help you), and she makes sure that it's functioning properly. 

Carol Ford and Debbie Hood are the Registrars. They make sure the membership list is up-to-date and coordinate our Coffee/Social hours, among other things. They will be calling you if you're on the waiting list. Debbie's had our coffee (and tea) equipment and supplies in her basement for many years. She buys good Decaf. 

Heather Vickers, Teija Cumming and Enid Maize are the Reading Committee. They help choose music and order it from the publishers, shopping in person and on line. They are chosen for their ability to read music and knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses. 

Renate Naghavi (That's me.) is the Conductor/Musical Director of the YRCC. The Conductor chooses a theme and selects music for each season, with the help of the Executive and the Reading Committee, and with input from the Accompanist. The Conductor teaches the music with the help of the Accompanist, and leads the choir in performances. 

Anne Marie Vandekemp has been the Assistant Director, officially and unofficially for at least a decade. Since she is one of the original members of the choir, Anne Marie is consulted on everything from music to venues and managing member politics. Together with Heather Vickers, Anne Marie leads the small group rehearsals. 

Sapphire Navaratnarajah is our Accompanist. She is a talented pianist who helps Renate teach the music and accompanies the choir in rehearsal and in performances. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monday, Monday, How I missed my Mondays! Did you miss the rehearsal?

It was so so so good to sing again yesterday!

After a very long summer, members of the York Region Community Choir got together in a Newmarket backyard for a sound check and rehearsal for our upcoming wedding gig.

It was wonderful! It felt great! It was fantastic seeing you all again! It was so exciting that my baton ended up flying over the fence into a neighbour's yard! I was that wired.

Our sound system didn't end up working the way we wanted, and we're figuring out a Plan B, but that's why we were there.

The singing was way way way wonderful, enough to make up for the disappointment, though! We kept singing after we lost our accompaniment a couple of times, and our sound was incredibly beautiful. Our songs are beautiful. It's going to be great!

For those of you who weren't able to be there (or if you were and want to work on it before Sept. 8), please go to YouTube and watch the Blue Skies snaps to see how they go (search: Blue Skies YRCC). Sopranos snap alone at the beginning and everyone snaps during the solo. Also, please listen to Sapphire's recordings of your parts of In My Life to hear the timing of the ending "in my life, I loved you more". The word life does a much quicker thing than what we've been doing. Let's try to do it the right way.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Newmarket Jazz+ Festival: Next Weekend!

Next weekend you'll hear lots of jazz "plus" lots of other great music at the Newmarket Jazz + Festival: the + means there's something for everyone, not just jazz enthusiasts (some jazz fans will be disappointed). Last year I saw quite a few excellent performances, lots of different kinds of jazz, and there was rock, pop, big band, folk, and fusions of genres too. For only $5/day you will hear and see amazing live music of all kinds. You can come and go all day with a wrist band, so you can go up to Main Street too. There will be events happening there too all weekend. You could go home for meals, but there will also be food and drinks for sale at the Jazz Festival and on Main Street of course. The whole event is licensed so you can buy beer and wine to sip on while you listen. Cool. There are things going on indoors too: kids' stuff mainly, and free workshops. Soraya and I will be volunteering there this year, so maybe you'll see us working, and you'll see us in the audience too. There are a few bands we saw last year that we'd really like to see again.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Missing Choir over the Summer?

If you're missing choir over the summer, like me, you can:

  1. go to our website and look at some photos of us on Concert Night, May 3rd, and some old ones too;
    Do you miss this face?
  2. while you're at the website, visit the Forum section under Members-Only to join a discussion or to start one; 
  3. also on the website, under Members-Only, you can look up friends from choir using the the Membership Directory and send them emails or phone them up to chat or invite them out for a coffee, or a martini;
  4. watch the YouTube videos of the concert. Like and Comment.Share your favourites with friends and family, and send them to your best choir friend with a joke about your/her/his face while singing;
  5. visit our Facebook page. Post something, or comment on a post that's there;
  6. sing in the shower;
  7. sing in the car;
  8. sing in the kitchen;
  9. sing around a campfire;
  10. sing on a lake;
  11. think of more places to sing, and go and sing there.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Truly Our Very Best Performances: Seniors' Homes

We had another fantastic evening singing with seniors last night! What a great show! We all had fun and did a great job.

It's so much more relaxing singing for seniors in their homes! The casual feel of having the audience right there, only an arm's length away, in armchairs in the activity room or main lounge of the seniors' residence takes away a lot of our performance panic. The other thing is that we know our music pretty well by now, having had "the big test" at our formal concert. So, we sound really good!

I like to have fun with the audience and start talking to them right away. I introduce every song and I try to get the audience to laugh. At our formal concerts, I speak very little and don't comment on every song, but group songs into themes, letting the songs speak for themselves.

We do our songs, and we do them really well, since we're relaxed and the audience is smiling and friendly. Then, we pass around duotangs with a selection of sing-along songs from "Sentimental Journey Down Memory Lane," a publication by the Ontario Society of Senior Citizens' Organizations. Here's where we get really silly. I always make the same jokes and we always groan at them, while the seniors always laugh. We sing out loud, making up harmonies and fancy endings as we go, and the seniors sing along. I often walk through the crowd and encourage people. How wonderful to see tired old faces open up and shine and old bodies move to the music! Yesterday, there was a man conducting along with me in his own style, sometimes getting out of his seat.

The very best thing about singing with seniors is when they stop us as we're leaving to thank us. Sometimes they have cool stories to tell. Often, something we've sung has awakened a memory for them. Yesterday, a woman shuffled up to me with her walker, her eyes "legally blind," she said, to tell me that our songs from Nova Scotia (Farewell to Nova Scotia and Song for the Mira) reminded her her youth spent in Nova Scotia and of the time during WWII when she was a code breaker there. Cool! What a great feeling to bring someone back to a time when they were young and vibrant! How precious to see them vibrant again!

These are our best concerts, and they're the shortest and simplest. When they thank us at the end, we always say, "It was truly our pleasure. Thank you, for inviting us into your home to sing with you."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Videos of our show are now on line!

You can now see and hear how fabulous we were!
Standing in the choir and singing, you don't get a good sense of how we sound. You'll be amazed at how wonderful the choir sounds and how great we look when you watch the videos that Gerry posted. I've only watched a couple so far, and they're amazing!
Here's Song for Canada. Heather sounds beautiful, the French sounds really good, the descant at the end is powerful, and the ahs are excellent (really-listen)! I love it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Real Success: What makes a wonderful show?

Your Best Concert Ever!!!

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this over the past few days. Saturday night's concert, Take Me Home, was indeed our best concert yet. It felt wonderful, didn't it? What a high!

The concert was far from perfect, though. And, I'm not looking forward to seeing some of the videos, reliving some of the messy moments. But, recordings are very different from live performances. Being there was exciting and the experience of the show was powerful. The recordings will not be able to replicate the experience.

So, if we made a bunch of mistakes, forgot words, lost control of our voices, had issues with getting on and off stage elegantly, didn't all wear black to the floor, and didn't smile like we're supposed to, how was it so good, the best?

1. When we sounded good, we sounded really great. 50+ voices are powerful and we had lots of really impressive music, with lots of perfect endings with good strong harmonies. Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora has excellent acoustics and a great sound system, so sound was excellent.

2. The music was excellent. We had a great selection of music, with a huge variety so that everyone was entertained and impressed. The theme was Canada and Home, so it was easy to find great music.

3. Emotion and passion. The theme was so good because it inspired passion and lots of emotions. We had the audience laughing and crying, singing and clapping along and pin-drop silent, feeling homesick and patriotic, and then jumping to their feet for 2 standing ovations.

4. The audience was great! They were friends and family and they want us to succeed, but we work hard to make them happy too. We engaged the audience and we gave them a good ride, with emotions going up and down, with the tempo and volume changing, visual and aural stimulation in good balance, but they were supportive coming in. And, it helped that it was a huge audience. There's a lot of energy in numbers.

5. Food and comfort. When people get together, you'd better have refreshments. We have the very best bake sale anywhere, ever. And, our space is comfortable, we fit. There are bathrooms upstairs and downstairs, there's space for us to move around and talk during intermission, and there's lots of free parking. The room doesn't get too hot or too cold. Physical comfort is a big deal.

6. Fun. The intangible thing. We enjoyed ourselves, and the audience enjoyed themselves, and that made us even better, so they felt even better, and so on. (Remember that TV ad: "When you're looking good, you feel good. And, when you feel good, you look great!) Right from the beginning, we could see the audience loving us and enjoying the music, so we responded with an even more joyful performance. Enthusiasm counts big-time, and I can't repeat enough that you should smile and relax and have fun when you perform.

As your leader, I try to start with enthusiasm. I get really excited about a show, so the energy is there with all that adrenalin. But it really begins before we even start rehearsing. I start with a selection of music that I love, and as soon as we start rehearsing, I try to get you to love it too. I put energy and love into each song, and when all of you do too, it's powerful.

I also prepare you for mistakes so that when I'm a bar late with your entry, Sapphire can fix it when we do all come in, because we are all together. We don't worry about our messy bits, but go on, and the parts that weren't perfect are quickly forgotten, if they were even noticed, water under the bridge. They will be there in the recordings, but the recordings are not the show. The show was magnificent! We were fantastic!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

April 21st Review and Prepare for Monday 28th at Trinity in Aurora

Mon April 21

6:30-Edelweiss was wonderful, This Land is Your Land was good and we will have our music, NWPassage was wonderful (memorizing would be nice). Remember how we stood for all the small groups because they all sounded and looked good.

7:00 Soloists: Janet and the Kevins were excellent, loved Trix, and Stanley and Mona surprised us (Don't tell your friends and family-let them be surprised at the concert.) Heather with the Kevins was also excellent.

1. Farewell to Nova Scotia: Intro is the last 2 lines of the chorus. Remember at the end we do the chorus twice and then repeat the last line slowly and with harmony.
2. Take Me Home: we'll ask the audience to sing along, at the latest by the last chorus
3. They All Call it Canada. Tenors and Basses remember to come in BIG on your section.
4. Banks of Nfld. was amazing. I'm so glad we pushed ourselves to do this song! You're welcome for choosing Todd for this fantastic solo.
5. Hallelujah was lovely as usual with Gerry and Kit on the solos.
6. We Rise Again is so powerful! I take full credit for choosing Kristen's amazing voice.
7. Song for the Mira is such a great song. We have Trix, Louisa, Anne-Marie and Lauren on solos and Robyn on the flute and it's so cool!
8. In My Life is perfect- a Beatles song and a jazz choir arrangement. We worked on this a bit. Review the section starting on bar 41.
9. The Hockey Song. Yes!

Mon. April 28 Run-through Rehearsal (not a dress rehearsal)

6:00 Set-up and Small Groups and Soloists. We need all accompanists and anyone who is going to be at a mic. Solos and Duets then Small Groups (6:30) all done by 7:00.

7:00 Everyone if possible. Get on stage and see how we fit, where to stand. Warm up. Find our places on the side too.  See how the microphones fit, guitars, etc.  early Sound Check of choir with piano and choir with guitars.

7:30 GO! Start with O Canada and go through the show order. We won't sing all songs all the way though. We will definitely sing all of: Nella Fantasia, In My Life, Jamaica Farewell, Song For the Mira, Banks of Nfld., They Call it Canada.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reviewing and Previewing April 14 and 21 Rehearsals

April 14  Sandra and Michele were selling tickets

6:20 This Land is Your Land: We're working on memorizing, but trying words-only first. Carol had emailed everyone with the words sheet she has made and you can customize it for yourself. Thanks, Carol!
6:50 Northwest Passage: We positioned everyone around the guitars, so Kevin and Heather are in the middle, and Todd, Ellen, and Janet fan out from Kevin, while Trix, Melinda and Lauren fan out from Heather. Sounded fabulous!

1. Jamaica Farewell was excellent. I like it better a bit slower, more relaxed. It tends to get a bit rushed. Tenors and Basses are doing an excellent job, and the Sopranos are doing well keeping their big group sounding blended and not too loud.

2. Song for Canada was also excellent. Don't stress over the ahhs. If we have 7 or 8 part harmony there, it's okay. It's fast and over before you know it.

3. We Rise Again: We learned the ending. It's fantastic! The whole song is beautiful and I can't wait to share it with our audience! We reviewed the first set of ahs.

4. Farewell to Nova Scotia: Fun! We created a longer introduction and reviewed the ending: we sing the chorus twice and repeat the last line slowly- watch me.

5. All the Little Rivers: Superb! Remember I want big Porcupine and shockingly little Saskatchewan, like the drama in Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves. We reviewed the top of page 7. It sounded even better when we sang it as written ;-) Tenors and Basses, whatever you can give me there will be great, just sing!

6. Banks of Newfoundland: Amazing! Sapphire convinced us that we could do it a cappella, and she was right! It sounded so good, much better! Just be sure to watch and move together.

7. Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves was gorgeous as usual. You did a great job of making a dramatic difference between the loud and big part and the soft and short part.

April 21 
Sandra and Michele will sell tickets. Get them in advance for a savings of $5/couple

6:30-7:00 Small Groups will each have a short run-through (Edelweiss, This Land, NWP)
7:00- 7:20 Solos and Duets will each have a short run-through (Stanley, Mona, Trix, Heather, Janet, Kevin)

  • We Rise Again
  • Banks of Newfoundland
  • Hallelujah (Gerry and Kit)
  • Hockey Song 
  • In My Life
  • Song for the Mira (Trix, Louisa, Anne Marie, Lauren)
  • Take Me Home
  • They All Call it Canada
  • You'll Never Walk Alone

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rehearsal Review and Preview: April 7 and 14

Monday, April 7
6:40: Edelweiss
Northwest Passage had to cancel their early rehearsal, so only Edelweiss met. They were able to start a little later and enjoy some extra time.

Warm-up was Happy :-)

Shenandoah was great. We reviewed page 6 for the Altos and Tenors, and the top of page 5 (away you rolling river) for the Sopranos. Sopranos, remember you don't have melody there. Your "way"note is the same as the tenor's first note of "away", but an octave up. If you imagine singing "away" with them, go back up to that first note.

Take Me Home is the name of our concert, so we quickly learned Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver! It's super-easy, since everybody knows that song, or so it seems anyway. We're singing it the way we do sing-alongs. If you can harmonize, do it. If your neighbour is harmonizing in a way you like, follow them. It's fun and big and I'll probably ask the audience to sing along. (Kudos to Sapphire who sight-read the accompaniment.)

We Rise Again is almost done! We learned sections B and C, so all we have to do now is the ending! Review the hmms, oohs and aahs in both sections and First Sopranos and Tenors have a different harmony on this first verse, so review that if you can.

We tried out different soloists for Song For the Mira. Everyone is so good. It will be hard to choose who sings in the concert. The flute sounds so pretty! We spent a little time reviewing pages 8-11 for the Altos, and Tenor and Bass can review that as well. I love this song. It's the one that's been stuck in my head this week.

We sang through The Hockey Song and it's great!

We also sang through Nella Fantasia, which was beatutiful! I thought this would be the song to stick in my head, and I wished it. This is one of my favourite pieces of music.

It's funny, around this time of the season, I love all of our songs. I guess they're like our children now. We've raised them and can be proud of them, and see and appreciate the beauty in each one. Something for you to remember: Little mistakes will not make us love them less. And, others rarely notice the little things that our children do that disappoint us, right?

Monday, April 14
6:20 This Land is Your Land
6:50 Northwest Passage

  1. We Rise Again: We'll learn the ending.
  2. Farewell to Nova Scotia: Sing through
  3. All the Little Rivers: review that transition at the top of page 6
  4. Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves: Sing through
  5. Song for Canada: Sing through
  6. Jamaica Farewell: Sing through

Note: our last rehearsal is after this, April 21. We'll go over any tricky bits that need review. Think about what parts those are. I'll take requests.

On April 28 we'll be at Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora to rehearse with the sound guy, Doug, and to see where we stand, etc. If you cannot be at that rehearsal, but will be at the concert, you must let someone in your section know, so that they save a spot for you.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Take Me Home: YRCC Spring Concert, Saturday May 3, 2014

Time to start promoting our show!

Saturday, May 3rd at 7:30 in the evening.

The show will be called: Take Me Home.

Take Me Home, the annual Spring Concert of the YRCC will feature songs of Canada and Canadian artists, and music that takes us home. 

Tickets are on sale now! 

Advance tickets are 2/$25 when you purchase them from a choir member! 
Buy tickets for your friends and family now and save!

Single tickets are $15 each. 
Tickets at the door are $15 each.

Take Me Home

Monday, March 31 and Monday, April 7: Rehearsal review and preview

In case you missed the rehearsal, or if you want a reminder of what we did:

March 31st
6:20 This Land is Your Land
6:50 Northwest Passage

Our warm-ups included the harmony bits of Happy :-)

We reviewed the beginning and the ending of They All Call it Canada and sang it through beautifully.
We learned sections D and E of We Rise Again, and sang to the end, sight-reading the ending.
We sang Farewell to Nova Scotia, reviewing each section's verse and marking which words have extra syllables. If you want to work on this at home, here's a link to the video of the small group performance from last Christmas.
Banks of Newfoundland was beautiful. It gets better every time!
Song for the Mira was beautiful too! We tried out one soloist on each part and Robyn played the flute part on the top line. It's so special! We didn't have time to review anything, so we'll have to look at it again next week.

April 7th
6:20 Edelweiss
6:50 Northwest Passage

  1. We Rise Again  B&C
  2. Farewell to Nova Scotia review
  3. Shenandoah review
  4. Song for the Mira review
  5. Song for Canada review
  6. Hockey Song review

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Music in Context: the Full Experience

The York Region Community Choir is planning a social event, a trip to the cinema, the SilverCity Newmarket Cinemas, to see the live broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's production of La Bohème. 

I love the opera and have had season's subscriptions several times in the past, but I've never experienced opera like this before. I'm looking forward to it and I'm curious to see how it feels. I'm not expecting it to be as good as the real thing, but I'm hopeful that it will be a very close second best. 

People think they don't like "the Opera" because they haven't really experienced it before. They think they know what it's like, having heard bits of opera music on Bugs Bunny, or as part of a scene in a movie. Maybe they've heard someone singing (or attempting to sing) bel canto and decided it sounded like a bunch of warbling (probably a loose vibrato). But, they've never sat in an opera house and experienced a real live performance. 

I compare this to introducing people to baseball by having them listen to a portion of a radio broadcast of a baseball game. Or, watching a clip of a few moments of a baseball game and deciding it's boring. Even if you're watching a home run, and fans are cheering, it's not likely to interest you, especially if they show you one of those fat guys in a goofy uniform spitting tobacco. In a ball park, it's a totally different experience. I've only been to one Blue Jays game ever, but I really enjoyed it. It was exciting and so much fun! I similarly enjoyed a live Leafs game, and I dutifully sat through Hockey Night in Canada with my family on the couch.

There have been experiments where famous musicians have gone to play priceless instruments in subway stations or on street corners. Whether or not they were wearing fancy clothes, they did not make a big impression on the passers-by. I'm not surprised and I don't understand why others are. I've heard fantastic music in subway stations that I didn't have the time to listen to. And, it's noisy and unpleasant and there are all kinds of grumpy people moving about. What's good about that? Context is huge. Package the famous violinist in a designer suit, put him in a glitzy theatre, and people pay $100 each to hear him play. Package a rock musician as a rock star in a crazy get-up and put him in a stadium with laser beams and sweet smelling fumes and people will pay even more. 

I've suggested to the choir that they dress up to go to see the opera. It's part of the experience. One of my favourite parts of the opera is intermission. It sounds like a kid saying recess is his favourite subject! The intermission is when you get to enjoy the architecture, the fancy chandeliers, and the artwork of the theatre and see all the beautiful suits and dresses, the shiny shoes and sparkly jewellery! Being dressed up is worth it when you get to see all the other people dressed up. You can talk about the handsome tenor with your friends. And, during intermission, I always go down to see the musicians and their instruments in the orchestra pit. Weren't recess, lunch, and after school activities a big part of your school experience? 

I played a musical instrument, clarinet, and sang in High School. Most of my friends were in orchestra in Jr. High, so I loved the violins and violas, cellos and basses. I was involved in theatrical productions too. So, my empathy goes beyond the story and into the performance when I watch an opera. I'm completely immersed in the experience.

I also had the experience of playing softball at school, which was fun sometimes. I think that the experience of throwing and catching a baseball and hitting the ball with a bat is a big part of your experience of watching a ball game. Your mirror neurons kick in and you're part of the game. Smack! Run! Slide! Ouch! 

If we had more opportunities to make all kinds of music with all kinds of instruments and sing and act and paint sets, then we would be better able to enjoy the opera, the symphony, and the theatre. If we had lots of hands-on experiences of all kinds, we'd be more empathetic people in general, better behaved too.

Check out how massive this set for the opera Der Rosenkavalier is! 
This is a Met production.
Picture from The Recit, a Metropolitan Opera blog.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 24 and March 31 rehearsal review and preview

March 24 
6:20 Edelweiss- sounding excellent, adding flute
6:50 This Land is Your Land- very cool!

Warm-ups included "washing away our day."

We had a coffee and treats break. The treats were so good, but there was too much! I didn't manage to try everything. The new coffee machine is excellent.

1. Hallelujah was excellent as usual
2. The Hockey Song is great and great fun! Gerry had his coach's whistle and it's loud!
3. All the Little Rivers is powerful and good. We had to do quite a bit of review in the middle a cappella section, and I have to work on the timing there and connecting that to the next part.
4. We Rise Again is going to be fabulous. We walked through how the parts move around and learned sections F and G, but just sight-read the ending.
5. In My Life was beautiful, but we need a bit of work on one section.
6. We didn't manage to sing Banks of Nfld! Too much time enjoying our break, I guess.

March 31

6:20 This Land
6:50 NW Passage
  1. We Rise Again-moving back from ending-D and E oohs and ahhs (review what you're singing and mark your music) 
  2. Song for the Mira-review
  3. They All Call it Canada-review
  4. Farewell to Nova Scotia-intro and chorus (prepare to mark your sheet, have a pencil ready)
  5. Banks of Newfoundland-review

If you signed up for the opera, then bring in your money ($26/ticket) to give to Robin

Thursday, March 20, 2014

We Rise Again Videos

Kristen had mentioned that she found our version of We Rise Again on YouTube, so I went searching, and here are a couple that are the same arrangement. 

I'm sure it will be helpful to listen to how it's going to sound with all the parts together.
Thanks, Kristen!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March 17 and 24: rehearsal review and preview

March 17
(St. Patrick's Day: we didn't have green beer, but several people wore green clothes)

Northwest Passage met at 6:30 and Sapphire and Renate finished recording!

We sang You'll Never Walk Alone. And, remembered how incredibly difficult it was at first, and enjoyed the fact that we conquered it and are able to ace it every time!

We reviewed the ahs at the end of Song for Canada and sang it twice, once with Heather and Melinda singing the solo and once with just Heather. Renate takes full credit for offering you Melinda's beautiful strong voice.

I also take pride in offering you Mary-Ellen's lovely voice in the solo in Nella Fantasia. We learned pages 9 and 10 and reviewed the ahs and solo at the beginning. Remember, the Sopranos come in at the top of page 7.

We finished Jamaica Farewell, learning from the beginning and adding that to what we learned last time. Sopranos should hold back throughout so that we can hear the tenor/bass section. Tenor/Bass should review page 5 where you do not have the melody. That F# that you start on is a 'ding-dong' below the melody, which you want to sing. When the altos sing Ja-mai-ca, your note is an octave below the 'mai'. Also, Tenor/Bass: on page 7 when you have sung "Kingston town", turn the page right away so that you're ready to come in on beat 1 with "At the market". And, at the bottom of page 8, come in on 1 with "Ackey rice", resisting the pull to beat 2.

We didn't sing Banks of Newfoundland as planned, but Todd was away sick anyway. Let's try to do it next week.

March 24

6:20 Edelweiss
6:50 This Land is Your Land

  1. Banks of Newfoundland review
  2. Hallelujah review (Altos, please listen to the "tricky bits" recording)
  3. All the Little Rivers review
  4. Hockey Song review
  5. In My Life review
  6. We Rise Again* starting at page 9, bar 43 (Section F)
* please do a "walk-through" before Monday night if possible. Read my post with music in hand so you can make notes in pencil on your sheet music. (My blog post about We Rise Again is right below this one) There are messy bits for each part which will be easier if you look ahead. A very positive note: Altos, Tenors and Basses have lots of melody!