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!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

YRCC Rehearsal 23-SEP-2019

I really needed choir last night! It's such a wonderful escape from our day-to-day worlds, isn't it?! When the day is especially stressful, choir is perfect. Warm-ups included some gentle stress-releasing stretches. ahhhhhh

The small group Evening Prayer met at 6:30 and I hear they've all learned all of their parts. I can hardly wait to hear it next week.

1. Your Song: We spent quite a bit of time on this and it's coming along beautifully. We got all the way to the D.S al Coda on page 10, so we just have to go back and repeat and then learn the ending! We had some challenges with timing, notably in bars 36 and 37. The counting goes like this:
2, 3+ , +, +, +, +, 1, 3+ (the off beats are: much but it's the). Check out the word syncopation in Wikipedia. Also, remember that much is one note. On page 7, bar 65, the word moss is two notes, but the second note comes on beat 2, much earlier than you want it to. Watch out. At bar 70, the basses have the melody. Basses give it all you've got. The tenors will need to sing those high notes softer, and that's not easy. On page 9, at 87 the melody and the timing are not what you expect. Also,
sweetest eyes is tricky. Blair has found this YouTube video of a choir singing our arrangement. Thank you, Blair!

2. Let it Snow: We spent some time on 3 different versions of the phrase "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow": on page 3, page 4 and page 6. The one on page 4 is the trickiest. We sang from bar 15 up to bar 47 where there's a time change and it sounds like a key change. You'll see. We'll do it again. We will take it slow and work on little bits at a time. It will feel so good when we've finally mastered this piece!

3. Button Up Your Overcoat: We're not going to stress over this one. Most of you know it/remember it and it should be fun and doesn't have to be perfect. Every time we sing it, it gets better.

4. Wintersong: This is a new Wintersong. We just walked through and talked about how I'm creating an arrangement to suit us (SATB) based on this one (SSA) version I found. Listen to a SSA choral version, which I couldn't find, here. It's pretty, but I wanted more choir and more "Oh I miss you" and a stronger ending. For homework, please write in bar numbers (the words start at bar 9, there are oohs at bar 17, the sign/segno is at bar 33) so that we can refer to them and compare them to the new ending I've created. You'll be getting a few extra sheets of music next week to add to what you now have. The timing is difficult, but we're going to leave the first two pages to our soloist, Teija to learn. Lauren has agreed to be the back-up.

Next week: September 30th, 2019
6:45 Evening Prayer

  • Grown-up Christmas List
  • Let it Snow
  • Your Song
  • Wintersong
The new small group song will be In The Bleak Midwinter. Sign up on the website.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

YRCC Rehearsal 16-SEP-2019

Our second rehearsal was very successful!
If you missed it, you'll want to go over some music to prepare for next week.

6:30 Small Group Evening Prayer met and got through the whole piece. It's beautiful, but challenging, and it has to sound sweet and effortless in the end. Please sign up if you haven't yet done so (only 4 people are signed up but I know there were more of you). There are links in the event description to videos to help you.

Warm-ups: We did a short physical with notes on stance and breathing and we sang arpeggios on ooh and ahh after a yawn to give us good air position.

1. We started with Little Tree, reviewing parts and noted that we all had to hold the notes together to sound smooth and pretty. Be sure to observe the rests. First Sopranos start where it says small group or solo at the beginning. Everyone joins in at bar 13, the rest of the sopranos at the pick-up and the altos, tenors, and basses on beat 2. Notice that you need to sing softly (p and mp). Notice that the sopranos don't have the melody, but an echo on a descant on page 4. Page 5 is dramatic, my very favourite, and you need to watch for the ritardando at the bottom of the page. We'll review those notes, as they're different. Everyone must be together in bar 41. It's very effective. Always watch at the ending.

2. Your Song:We learned the two pages after the segno, starting at 45 and then sang from the beginning to page 7! It's not very difficult but there are some difficult moments and the timing is mostly what you expect, but not always. You'll need your pencil out when you're learning this to make notes to help you remember when it's different. Listen to this choir singing our arrangement. They do some different stuff with dynamics. Listen to their fortes. Cool. We won't be so dramatic with this one. I love drama but I feel that this is a lighter, sweeter song.

3. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! OH MY! This is going to be a fun ride. I thought it would be a fun challenge to learn a very jazzy piece and since it's a very familiar song, I think it will be more fun than hard. The things about jazz that are notably difficult and different are the harmonies and the timing. The timing features syncopation, where notes fall off the beat. In bar16, at the top of page 3, you see the bar begins with an eighth rest so you sing not on beat one but the and of one. There's lots of that. Tricky rhythms. Harmonies are also an issue. You'll see where we're in 4 or 5 parts, the harmonies are not what you expect. Don't worry, you'll have lots of help and we'll feel proud and confident by December. Peter is working on recording the parts and they should be up on the website soon, but in the meantime, Tab has discovered a video of Let it Snow to help us. It's our arrangement (except that the accompaniment is an orchestra) and you can see the music and hear a choir singing at the same time! Thank you, Tab! And, here's another video. This one is just choir and piano, but watch them. It's cool how many men there are and that they're all mixed up and not in sections.

4. Button Up Your Overcoat: This will be stuck in your head all week. Sorry, but not sorry. It's so good! We just sang it and didn't go over any parts but it's already better than last week, and really quite good. So many of you remember it well and the rest are following along really well that we don't have to spend much time on this to get it concert-ready. Yay!

Next week: September 23
6:30 Evening Prayer Small Group

  • Button Up
  • Let it Snow
  • Your Song
  • Wintersong

Friday, September 13, 2019

YRCC Rehearsal 09-SEP-2019

It was so good to be back together!

We were in a new (temporary-while our room is renovated) spot at Trinity Anglican in Aurora, and without our Joy (who is in Montreal at McGill) but it was still like going back home.
In fact, having Peter and Catalina at the keyboard brought back some wonderful memories and they slipped right back into my heart.
There was a lot of chatting as people enjoyed a little reunion time after a long and wonderful summer.
When we finally got started, we had a quick warm-up and then sang:

1. You Raise Me Up (Most of us remember this, and it will only need a little touch up)

2. Button Up Your Overcoat (Very little work required. Memorable piece.)

3. Little Tree (Also, still fresh somehow. My favourite!)

4. Grown Up Christmas List (Last year's new song; now comfortably familiar)

5. Your Song (New! We started learning right away and got to page 5, bar 45. )

6. Magic of Winter (Such a pretty song! Funny to sing when we're expecting sunny hot days.)

Next week: Monday, September 16

Evening Prayer small group starts at 6:30. Sign up on the website if you took the music home, please. This is a small group of women only SSA.

  • Button Up
  • Little Tree
  • Your Song 
  • Let it Snow

Saturday, September 7, 2019

YRCC Executive 2019-2020

The YRCC is kept running by a dedicated group of volunteers who are elected every year at our Annual General Meeting (AGM). 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. The Executive is now officially called the Board of Directors since we are incorporated, but we can still use the name Executive. Some of the former executive positions are not board positions, and that's just the choice of the people holding the position. 

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

Our Vice-President is Jane Griffiths (jane.griffiths@rogers.com). Jane's role is to help Lauren and anyone else on the executive when they need a hand. She's a fundraising superhero.  Jane is helping to cover the role of Public Relations Chair until Patty Ko can move into the position.

Patty Ko (pattywlko@gmail.com) will be our Public Relations Chair starting in JanuaryIf you need to contact us regarding advertising, or to book us for a concert, or just need some information, contact Jane in 2019, Patty in 2020. The PR Chair's job is to keep us connected to the community. 

We are looking for a Secretary/Treasurer.
The secretary/treasurer takes minutes at the meetings of the Executive Meetings (approx. 3/year) and at the Annual General Meeting,  maintains the bank account, prepares a budget, and keeps all financial records for the Choir. The former treasurers are very supportive and willing to help. Michele Horton will continue to represent us when we share condolences and congratulations. 

Peggy Keall (peggy@yorku.ca)  is our Music Librarian.   She has several filing cabinets full of music in her house, along with tables and a printer, and she 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 Peggy! 

Trix Verge (trix.verge@gmail.com) is our Webmaster. Trix is the one to go to for help using the website, and she makes sure that it's functioning properly. Trix has magical computer skills, and could probably herd cats.

Carol Ford and Debbie Hood are the Registrars. They make sure the membership list is up-to-date and coordinate registration in September. They will be calling you if you're on the waiting list. Debbie had our coffee (and tea) equipment and supplies in her basement for many years, and together with Carol took care of our refreshment needs, but Sophie has graciously taken over that responsibility.

Teija Cumming and Elizabeth Steele along with Lauren are the Reading Committee. They help choose new 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 Musical Director chooses a theme and selects music for each season, with the help of the Executive and the Reading Committee, and with input from the Accompanists, and plans the concerts and performances. The Musical Director teaches the music with the help of the Accompanists, and leads the choir in performances. I conduct with a baton :-)

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. Anne Marie leads the small group rehearsals. 

Catalina Liu and Peter Yin  are our Accompanists. Catalina and Peter are both former accompanists of the YRCC who have returned as a team. Catalina is our main weekly accompanist and Peter prepares recordings and accompanies some weeks. Both are talented pianists who will accompany us at our performances. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

YRCC Winter 2019 Solos and Small Groups

Please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to sing a solo song or a duet, or if you have an idea for a small group song. I'd especially love it if you want to sing a song from our archives (In the Bleak Midwinter, maybe?)

Our theme is love, and there's a sub-theme of giving or gifts- gifts of love, and Christmas too, of course.

I've chosen a small group piece, Evening Prayer (When at night I go to sleep) from Hansel and Gretel. It's SSA, 3 women's parts.

So, if you're anxious to get to work, have a look at the website here , or go to Member's Only, Recordings, Previous Seasons (at the bottom of the page) to look at some of our archive.