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!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tickets available at break for our concert and for November 15 Amadeus Choir

I was given 20 tickets to sell for the Amadeus Choir concert to be held at my church, Trinity United Newmarket, on Sunday, November 15 at 7:00 PM. Buy tickets at break time for this major musical event and help me support my church. It will be so cool to see and hear a professional choir in my beautiful church, with its awesome organ.

Here's what they have to say about the concert:

Thrill to the sound of the award-winning 80-voice Amadeus Choir who will perform at Trinity on Sunday, November 15th at 7:00 p.m. Under the direction of Lydia Adams, assisted by Joan Andrews with accompaniment by Shawn Grenke on piano and organ, the choir will sing a variety of music... sacred and secular...and prepare us for the Advent season with some Christmas favourites. 

Please support this fundraising event organized by the Senior Choir with the help of many friends. Invite your friends and neighbours to this wonderful evening of fine music! Tickets are $20 ($10 for students) and are available on Sundays at coffee time, from choir members or from Dianne in the Trinity office.

I googled the choir, and discovered that they're celebrating 40 years, 31 with Lydia Adams as director! I can hardly wait. Hope to see you there!

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Sussex Carol- directions. Where do I sing? Where is my part?

The Sussex Carol, the third of the Three Christmas Folk Carols, is a lot like We Rise Again-same basic structure.

There's a solo, which Kristen sings, starting alone, and the choir does some background twice and joins in twice, and at the end everyone is singing and it's really big. The challenge is that it's not written that way.

This is not written as one solo, but that's how we're doing it. We're doing it our way (okay, my way).

So, at the beginning, up to bar 15, it's just Kristen.

At bar 15, SATB lines are indicated and Kristen will sing in the middle, in the line that says "3 or 4 men". Everyone sings do-do where indicated until bar 23.

Here, at bar 23, only the tenors will feel funny. The tenors move to the line where it says T. Tutti (=all the tenors). Kristen joins the sopranos in the soprano line, altos stay, and bass is at the very bottom.

At the bottom of page 10, at bar 28, there's a fermata and then a line shows you where your part moves, except the sopranos will also move down and take the top do-do part. Kristen will go alone to the top line.

So, on page 11 we have Kristen on top, with the choir below all in their usual spots. 

Bar 37 is strange for the sopranos. You stop the do-do part and move up to the top to the melody. Altos stay, Tenors and Basses stay.

From bar 38 to the end, everyone is where they expect to be.

Mon. Oct. 26 YRCC Rehearsal Review

Mon. Oct. 26

Coventry Carol Group met early and was excellent! Work on dynamics and a prettier, lullaby-like sound.

1. Jesus, Jesus Rest Your Head is done! Wow! It's beautiful.
2. Sussex Carol is also done!!! We learned it all in one shot! Well done, everyone!
3. O Holy Night was awesome, as usual.
4. The Twelve Songs of Christmas is so much fun! It's an amazing ride, isn't it? I love it!

Our meeting went so well! The financials from last year, this year's budget and the new financial year-end all passed and we enjoyed treats while we met. Good stuff!

We're still looking for a home for our music library. Can you help? Does anyone know of anyone who has office space to give us/ rent us cheap? Maybe if we had all the stuff housed somewhere easy to access, someone could take care of it? Or, a couple of people could share the work? We're willing to look at creating a new system for the music library if someone has a great idea. We need some creative thinking if we can't find someone to take over from Trix. The weekly task of carting extra music around could be rotated like the equipment? The bi-annual binder switch is already done with help in a team. Put your thinking caps on, and see how you fit into the solution!

Mon. Nov. 2

  • Amen (balance between parts as the melody switches between parts)
  • 3 Carols (need to put them together)
  • 12 Days (review, fix any messy bits)
  • 12 Songs (any tricky bits? it sounded really good)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Our Beautiful Christmas Concert Poster: Share it everywhere!

Oct 19: Election night and a Jays game too, but we had a big, wonderful rehearsal.

Monday, Oct. 19

Roxanne brought posters and tickets! We started buying/ taking tickets and taking posters to post where we work, where we meet with others, anywhere.

We are still looking for someone to take over the Music Librarian position. We are willing to look at accommodating anyone willing to help. If you have the space but not the time, maybe someone will partner with you, someone with time but not enough space. It doesn't have to be an Executive position if you're not interested in the planning thing. Talk to us if you have any ideas. Trix really needs to give up this position asap.

Coventry Carol met early and Breath of Heaven sang at 7:15 with the accompaniment recording. Breath of Heaven people need to pay more attention to blending and enunciating so that the words are clear and the parts are balanced. Be sure to quiet down when you're not singing melody.

Warm-ups included watching hands and quickly responding to changes. Some of us are better than others at this, but we did well before our hands got too heavy.

1. Little Tree. We reviewed pages 6 and 7 and remembered to enunciate carefully, especially final consonants. It's not always easy, but try.

2.Shine Hanukkah We reviewed the special Soprano 1 ending, the Descant part, and added a few volunteers from Sop 2 for extra strength. It's cool, but we really need to hear it.

3. Shepherds (aka What is this Lovely Fragrance) We reviewed the a cappella part on page 5 at starting bar 56. It really helped that a bunch of us learned it the week before! Bam! We got it. And, Melinda and Blair sang the solos at the beginning so that we could do the whole song! It was awesome!

4. Jesus, Jesus We got all the way through! Again, it helped so much that some of us already knew the chorus from last week! It's so pretty! The altos and tenors and basses were excellent on their oohs, and everyone was great on that very challenging part at the bottom of the page, "Winds were blowing..." So cool!

I hadn't planned to get that far on Shepherds and Jesus, Jesus, but we did so well that I kept going with that instead of singing through the 12 Songs of Christmas. That will have to wait until next week.

Next week: Monday, October 26th

We are having our Meeting with Coffee and Treats, and hopefully it will be fast so we can sing more than talk. It's just a bit of financial business: approving our Financial Statements and Budget and officially changing our financial year-end. The doc was sent in an email for you to look at.

6:45 Coventry Carol

  • Twelve Songs of Christmas
  • O Holy Night
  • Jesus, Jesus
  • Sussex Carol

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thanksgiving Monday, October 12 YRCC Rehearsal Review and Preview to Oct. 19

Thanksgiving Monday, October 12

We were small but mighty! We did a lot of work, and made good progress!

We sang Amen, reviewing from bar 57 to the end. Some sopranos were finding it hard to find the notes at the top of page 11, but we discovered that when we started at 57, those notes were easy at 61, and if we remembered them from there, we could do the pick-up to 65, which is the same as the top of page 11. Follow me? Try it at home. You'll see.

Shepherds What is this Lovely Fragrance. Starts with Heather on a solo and then Blair on a solo. At bar 56 on page 5, everybody comes in together a cappella (with no accompaniment). We learned that part! It's beautiful! Don't worry, we'll review it, and it sounds very fancy but is not terribly difficult. You can try it with the recordings on the website.

Jesus, Jesus Rest Your Head Starts after a little piano interlude (which will test how well we keep our pitch), and it's also a cappella. We sang through the first page, which is the chorus. Listen to your part on the website!

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring was next. We reviewed how the dynamics that we are using are different from what's written. And, they're slightly different in the second verse from the first verse. On page 4, at the beginning of the second system, it's not the loudest, as written. Page 5 is the loudest. But, the word Soar is loud in the first verse and the word Joy is loud in the second. On page 6, in the last system, the word soaring is the loudest the first time through, but the word love is the loudest the second time through. Don't forget to do a big mmm chord at the end, under the fermata.

We sang a bit of Come Emmanuel which occurs twice and which has to be strong. The section starting at bar 35, "Some are waiting for a mighty king" is the same as the one at 57, " And you will come as a tiny child". I love those parts!!! So dramatic. The drama happens because we're all together and it builds up "poco a poco" (little by little) from very soft to very loud. It's not very difficult but sounds really great. Listen to your part on the website!

We ended the night singing about celebrating with the ones you love, which was appropriate because we were spending a holiday with our beloved friends at choir! We sang The Magic of Winter. It was beautiful, as always. Such a pretty song!

Next week is Election Monday. Remember to vote before coming to choir, if you haven't already voted.

Tickets and Posters will be ready! You can already book your family for December 6th at 2:30, and starting next week, you can buy their tickets too! In advance, you save $5 on a pair of tickets. 2 tickets are only $25. Singles and tickets at the door are $15. Think about where in your neighbourhood or workplace you can post a beautiful poster.

Coventry Carol is meeting at 6:45 and Breath of Heaven will be there a bit early to sing at 7:15.

We will sing:

  • Shine Hanukkah
  • Little Tree
  • Shepherds
  • Jesus, Jesus
  • 12 Songs

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

YRCC Rehearsal Review for Oct. 5 and preview to Oct. 12 Thanksgiving Monday Rehearsal

Monday, October 5

Breath of Heaven met early and is awesome! Remember to enunciate carefully so that all the words can be understood, and to listen to the people around you so that you're blending and sounding like one voice.

Warm-ups included various vowel sounds all made with attention to open airways.

1. Twelve Days After Christmas. We made it to the end! We'll have to go over some parts and need to do section E, which I missed, but it was great singing all the way through. Remember when singing the Du-ba section that the Tenors and Basses have the important words that everyone needs to understand. Be sure to enunciate clearly throughout the whole song. Whenever there's a consonant at the end of a word, be sure to make it clear. Often that means you have to make it the beginning of the next word. Eg. love and I had a fight becomes la van di ha da fight.

2. Shine Hanukkah is fun and easy. The only hard part is for the first sopranos to come in "early" on beat one on the last page. Done. We'll work on some dynamics next time, so that those choruses don't become monotonous.

3. In the Bleak Midwinter is so strong! We're going to have Janet on the first solo and Todd on the second for extra drama!

4. Come, Emmanuel, Come! It's so dramatic! I love it. We are watching for those little stars that mean we hold the m or n closed as we hold the note. It adds to the drama.

5. Three Christmas Folk Carols. We walked through and sang through this interesting medley of unusual Christmas melodies. They're really special. The first one is What is This Lovely Fragrance. Heather starts us off with a solo, followed by Blair on a solo. And, then, the choir comes in a cappella in 4 part harmony that sounds like angels. Sapphire has a little piano interlude, and then the choir sings Jesus, Jesus Rest Your Head a cappella in a strong 4 part harmony with soft verses of sopranos singing above ATB oohs. How is Kristen going to come in on her own after the last "manger bed"?
We'll find out. Kristen leads us in the last piece, Sussex Carol. She will sing the solo part throughout. Like We Rise Again, the choir will sing special bits behind her melody. Here, it's doo-doos. It moves. You'll see. And, like We Rise, the end is big- ff- and everybody sings a strong 4-part harmony verse that ends with a big Amen!

Lauren announced that we will have a brief meeting during our rehearsal on October 26. We will vote on some business that was left over from our AGM, and that arose our of our AGM. For example, because of our new status, we have to approve a new financial year-end (I know; try to reign in your excitement).

Jane will be coordinating the Poinsettia fundraiser again. It's a win-win-win thing. You get a great deal on some really great Poinsettias just in time for Holiday decorating and gift-giving, the concert looks beautiful, and the choir makes some money, too! Yay!

Roxanne has started to add Seniors Visits to the Events sign up. Sign up!

I noticed that the equipment roster is up on the website, so please have a look and make a note of when your turn comes up to help Lauren with setting up and taking down the equipment.

The recordings are also up, so you can sing with accompaniments and learn your parts at home, or in the car,...

Next week, October 12 is Thanksgiving Monday. We hope that lots of you will be available to keep learning our music. The more people know the music well, the easier it is for all of us. This is where we show that we're a team. Come if you can. If you need to miss, don't worry.

Nobody will meet early.
We will sing:

  • Amen
  • Button Up Your Overcoat
  • Come, Emmanuel
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • Magic of Winter
  • Shepherds What is This Lovely Fragrance

Thursday, October 1, 2015

YRCC rehearsal review Sept. 28 and preview to Oct. 5

September 28th - We had a social time coffee break! Lauren and I baked and Mary Ellen did her first coffee time perfectly.

Breath of Heaven small group met early and already sound excellent. Next week, you'll have the accompaniment recording to sing with!

Warm-ups included exercises to open our airways and tongue and lip stretches so we can enunciate better.

1. Little Tree: I had forgotten that we needed to finish learning Little Tree, so we did it first thing. Did I say that I love this song? I so do! Don't forget that we're saying gentle little Ts and not soft Ds in the word Little. Enunciate.

2. O Holy Night:We fixed our timing issue on page 8. O Holy night. O night divine and And glory ever more proclaim. We could perform this now. It's magnificent.

3. Shine Hanukkah: We learned the whole song! It's fun and pretty easy. The first sopranos have to work on the ending. They have a descant part with different timing.

4. Come Emmanuel: We sang it through once and it was already pretty good. Quite a few people remember this one from 2 years ago. This is a really cool Christmas song! It features the tenors and basses, so they should spend some time looking at their music to get really strong on their parts.

Remember to think about whether you can take on the role of Music Librarian. You'd have to have space for 4 or 5 filing cabinets and some boxes and bags and a table, ... a fair amount of space. You'd get help with preparing the binders and filing the music after each season, but it's a big thing to coordinate- there are 65 binders with 20 or so pieces of music that get filed away and another 20 that get put in. Some days you'll have a lot of stuff in your car, but people are very good at helping out with the carrying in and out.

Trix will continue to be our Webmaster, but doing both jobs has become impossible now that she has much  more responsibility at work. Maybe you've retired or you've found yourself with more time and space because your kids are grown up? Please help us out.

The men are going to have a small group song! They will be singing The Little Drummer Boy/ Peace on Earth, the Bing Crosby and David Bowie song! Gentlemen: the music is in 4 parts, but you'll be singing it mostly in 2, whatever parts have the melodies. Don't worry, it's not complicated. If you listen to a recording of it, it will be clear. There will be a few places where you can easily split into 3 or 4 parts.

Roxanne has started booking our seniors home visits. You will want to look out for the sign-up 'Events' on the website.

Next Week, October 5th

Breath of Heaven is meeting at 6:45 again.

  1. 12 Days After Christmas
  2. Come Emmanuel
  3. In The Bleak Midwinter
  4. Shine Hanukkah
  5. 3 Christmas Folk Carols (intro)
Don't forget: 

We are meeting on Thanksgiving Monday. Don't stress it if you have dinner plans. The recordings will be up by then so you can catch up.

We are meeting on Election Day Monday. Be sure to vote! Voting at the Advance Polls is so easy and convenient, you'll never want to vote on Election night again.