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!

Monday, August 30, 2021

YRCC in the Park #2 Monday, August 30th, 2021


I'm so looking forward to seeing you and singing with you tonight!

Right now, the forecast for 7:00PM is 24°C but the humidex will make it feel like 28.  And, it will be sunny. Blue Skies again!!! However, the sun will be setting as we end our evening, so we'll be sure to end on time. 

I will have my water bottle filled with cool water, and I'll have a hat, and chair, light clothing. Hopefully, there will be a breeze. We were quite comfortable last time, even though it was very hot.

Be prepared with whatever you need to keep comfortable for an hour in the sun, singing. We're going to sing! We're going to sing in person, together. It's such a good feeling to be together again. I can hardly wait! 

Don't forget to bring your completed COVID assessment form with you, or email it to Jane. In either case, you'll need to check in when you arrive. We have to make sure we take note of everyone who is there and we have to have a completed COVID form for each person, either in hard copy or electronically. 

Remember to tell your friends and family that this is not a performance, but a rehearsal. They are welcome to come, but we are not contact tracing the public in the park. We are not performing, but rehearsing. I will not be talking to the public, but I will make an announcement. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

YRCC Website is down temporarily- update: it's back up!

 The YRCC website is down temporarily. It will be back up as soon as the domain issue is resolved. 

Stay tuned. 

We're on for next Monday-August 30th- at Fairy Lake. (click there) The sheet music is attached to the calendar entry. You can download the music to a tablet or other electronic device, or print it out if you prefer. It's all stuff you know, just for us to sing, for fun and to be a choir again. 

The COVID assessment form is attached to the calendar with the sheet music in case you can't find your email with the form. Please email the completed form to Jane before Monday.

The website was only down for a few days. Thank you, Jane, for fixing that!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Naghavi family vacation on Lake Lorimer

Every January since 2015, Harry has found and booked a wonderful lakefront cottage rental for the five of us (including Dexter) for a week in August. The cottages or their locations are never perfect, so we've been to different places every year. This year, we ended up on Lake Lorimer. We've all had a very stressful year and especially needed a quiet, peaceful spot to help us get away from everything for a while. Winding gravel roads led to a perfect spot, where we swam and floated, paddled a canoe, did a little fishing, hunted for frogs, sat in the sun and in the shade, walked along quiet roads, made campfires, did a puzzle, read, relaxed on a couch, relaxed. This is my favourite kind of vacation. 

Lake Lorimer Cottage dock and canoe, and noodles and flippers for fun swimming and peaceful floating

Dexter watching us swim: Harry out deeper, me in the hat

Dexter waiting for me to catch up. In 6 morning walks, we encountered only one car, no other walkers, and no animals. 

The road trip is always good. Driving together with a Victoria-curated road trip playlist, seeing thick forests and pretty lakes along the way, the beautiful southern Ontario landscapes I love, is an important part of the getaway. 


Friday, August 13, 2021

You Do Not Walk Alone- YRCC Inspiration and Summer Beauty

Blair sent me this video (also embedded below) in an email a while back, suggesting the piece, You Do Not Walk Alone, for the choir, for future consideration. 

I'm sharing it here so that I don't lose it, but also so that you can enjoy it. 

The beautiful message and the stunning scenery are also appropriate as some of us are travelling at least a little in Ontario and will see some of our local beauty. I'm going to be going to a cottage up north soon and look forward to being immersed in our sometimes rugged, sometimes peaceful, always beautiful landscapes. I can hardly wait to swim in a lake. 

The message that we're not alone is not just about God, to me. Unless God is the Love and Companionship of the People present in our lives and in our hearts. I know when I float and glide in that lake, I will be in the company of my mother and her sister as they swim together in my memory, and with all of my friends and family who also love to swim in a lake or in the ocean on a vacation. I know that when I worry about my daughters, I am in good company. When I am driving to Sunnybrook, afraid, I am not alone. 

When I walk my dog every morning for exercise and as a prayer of gratitude for the beauty of my Newmarket neighbourhood in every season, the houses, the gardens, the parks, I do not walk alone. 

Whatever I'm doing, if I find myself humming one of our YRCC songs, then I feel so many feelings, and I always feel the companionship of the choir.


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

YRCC in the Park was a Huge Success!

 Singing at the Park was a success!

The space was perfect for a choir physically distancing. Each chorister basically had their own rock, and Lauren had little flags too to show what an appropriate distance would be. We could sit on the rocks or on chairs placed on the grass. It was very comfortable.

Most people wore masks to walk around, and for sign-in, but once we were in position, we could take them off and sing comfortably.

There are challenges singing outdoors. Sound doesn't work like it does indoors but kind of fades away, weakens with distance, and that was even more pronounced because we were standing far apart. Getting the right level of sound on the recordings was challenging (on top of the usual technical difficulties). And, we're used to hearing the people in our section all close by, and the other sections too. It was hard to hear other choir members. For that reason, we sang to concert recordings. That way, we could hear everyone in all the sections. We did sing to accompaniment recordings as well, to be the choir that was present, and it worked out okay. We were a choir again. Success!

The main goal was to feel like a choir again, to enjoy the music and each other's company, and it felt great. I loved seeing everyone wearing their biggest smiles, singing and talking and laughing (there were a few tears as well, so many emotions). I loved seeing you in person!!! I can hardly wait for August 30th to do this again!

The Town of Newmarket requires from us to have a safety plan for participants and the public. So, we let members know that masks should be worn where social distancing was not possible, members signed up for the event for contact tracing and provided a completed COVID screening. Screening was done online, by sending Jane your completed COVID form, or some people printed out their forms, and others had Victoria fill them out on the spot. Victoria signed everyone in as registration. Among ourselves we have good contact tracing and safety ensured. That's all good. Our only responsibility to the public was to remind them to keep socially distanced. We made signs to do that, and to say that it was a closed rehearsal of the YRCC. I also made an announcement. We didn't expect an audience, since it wasn't advertised as a performance, and was booked as a rehearsal. But, we had some fans come out to watch. Another fan was happy that they happened to be walking through the park and were able to stop and hear us sing. We had a flock of geese fly over us, and were happy to learn that we didn't need to fear that they would "bless us" because they don't do that when they're flying. One goose entertained us by walking across the middle row, almost joining as a soprano.

Big thanks to Lauren and Jane, who booked the spot with the Town, made sure we were following all the rules, and got the keys to the electrical box. Bit thanks to Blair who brought the sound equipment and also set it all up and found someone with a Bandaid (thanks to that person also) to fix the wobbly cord. Thanks to my daughter Victoria who helped make and transport signs and get everyone registered and COVID screened and then took pictures and video! Thank you to everyone who made everything work!

Monday, August 30th

Put that on your calendar. We're going to do this again. Victoria will be back in Ottawa, but we'll have someone else there to sign in everyone and maybe take some more pictures. We'll send the COVID forms again, and this time we'll have all the right cords to plug everything in. We'll pray for good weather again. The blue skies were certainly shining on us.

Here's a clip of us singing Blue Skies:

Monday, August 9, 2021

YRCC in the Park Tonight! 9-AUG-2021-- prepare for heat


I'm so looking forward to seeing you and singing with you tonight!

Right now, the forecast for 7:00PM is 29°C but the humidex will make it feel like 35! And, it will be sunny. 

I will have my water bottle filled with cool water, and I'll have a hat, a chair, and an umbrella maybe, light clothing. Hopefully, there will be a breeze. 

Be prepared with whatever you need to keep comfortable for an hour in the sun, singing. We're going to sing! We're really going to get together and sing. I'm so wired. 

Jane and Lauren have made arrangements with the Town of Newmarket, preparing the COVID requirements, and Blair has the sound equipment, and I've been listening to the recordings and sending emails and posting. 

I hope we'll all have fun and feel reconnected after a year and a half of pandemic separation. We plan to do this again, since we're sure a number of people will be away doing summer things tonight. Hopefully, we can see most people before September and even more of us can get together in September. Keep safe and healthy and keep watching the COVID restrictions and follow the advice of the Health Department. 

We're all doing our best so that we can get back to meeting, and singing together, rehearsing for a concert, and performing.