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!

Saturday, October 29, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review- 2022-Oct-25

 Another rehearsal missed?! 

This time I was sick. 

I hadn't been sick since last Christmas, when I thought I had COVID (like almost everyone at the time) and went for a proper test at a pharmacy (one of the last available) and didn't get the results until 3 weeks later-negative. This time I took a rapid test which came back negative in 20 minutes. I missed a beautiful weekend, a church meeting, a concert, and choir. It was awful, but it wasn't as bad as last Christmas. 

Lauren and Donna are the best! They helped me feel okay about missing and I'm sure you were all more than fine without me. Lauren is the absolute very bestest because she wrote me this summary of the rehearsal:

Small groups: There's Still My Joy is sounding wonderful. Our voices are blending nicely. Since we changed the music when Debbie wasn't here, I have decided we will meet again at 6:45 and Once in Royal David's City can start at 7:00. I handed out all 8 copies and I think we'll have a good blend of voices.

1. We started with Hallelujah as a continuation of our warm up and to go over the three tricky alto parts for our new altos. Sounds wonderful. 

2. I Can See Clearly Now: pages 4-7 could use more work. We went over the timing and the tenor part. Reviewed the word changes for everyone. The sopranos have forgotten to stop singing at the end of bar 27 to leave the rest for the first tenor "blue" in bar 28. 

3. Little Tree: with Kit and Natalie there, the sopranos came in at "Don't Be Afraid" but still not super strong. For some reason (perhaps my unpracticed conducting) a few also kept coming in and singing the alto/tenor part on page 3, right after we come in for the first time. 

4. Somewhere Out There: we reviewed the oohs on page 3, sounded amazing. Forgot to review the ones on page 4. Tenors and basses sounded much better at 2, both times. Reviewed the alto, tenor and bass parts at the beginning of the coda because they are all a little different from what we normally sing. Cleared up a page turn mystery for the guys -- too funny! 

5. We Need a Little Christmas: we learned the new part, starting at bar 99 and going through to the end. Almost there! When we sang the whole thing through, I realized we haven't really learned 81 through 99. 

6. We Wish You a Merry Madrigal: I asked them to make the drama between the loud parts and the soft repeats even more so and to sing the soft bits like silly little elves, bright and cheery. Sounded great. We didn't sing it a cappella because Donna put the piano on harpsichord and everyone loved it. 

7. Grown Up Christmas List: ran short of time but ran through it a few times. Still needs a little work but sounds good. The coda needs the most attention I think. Specifically everyone could use a review of the key change and the timing.

8. Ended with Wonderful World. Which sounded wonderful. 

I'm looking forward to seeing you all again this coming Tuesday, November 1st (What?!! Already November?!!) We have to seriously start planning our concert. 

You can start telling your friends and family to reserve Sunday, December 4th for the concert. 3:00-4:30, so you can invite them for dinner after, or hint to them to take you out for dinner. Have a sing-along party, with some mulled wine, or have some hot chocolate and cookies after. We're thinking about having a bake sale with take-home plates of goodies. 

 The York Region Community Choir

Merrily Singing Together:

A Real Live Holiday Concert

3:00pm on Sunday, December 4th, 2022

at Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora 


Thursday, October 20, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 2022-Oct-18

 We discovered another good thing about meeting on Tuesdays: Halloween is on a Monday night this year, so our choir night is clear. And, we'll hopefully have extra chocolate and candy to share. 

The small group "There's Still My Joy" met and have a new arrangement that's more balanced, more 'choral' and prettier. Yay! Thank you, Donna for finding it. So, they're going to need at least one more rehearsal to learn it. 

Our warm-up included more dancing: a little twist again and "le freak". 

1. Magic of Winter was perfect. There was no hissing, because you watched my cut-offs. I love it when you watch me! Sometimes, I think maybe I'm a little over the top with all my conducting gestures, brandishing my baton like a weapon, and grabbing at the air with my left hand like a baseball shortstop. But, it's my own little dance and it works. 

2. Little Tree needs work. I love this thing and I want it to be good enough for Enid. Sopranos need to work on "Don't be afraid, put up your arms" and holding notes their full value. Listen to the recording from December 2015 on the website, or here. We decided that the soprano section, since they're not so huge anymore, can all sing at the beginning. It should be soft and very together, smooth, like a very small group. 

3. We Wish You a Merry Madrigal will be kind of a theme for our concert (Merrily Singing Together: a Real Live Holiday Concert) so we'll learn it with and without accompaniment. Donna improvised a fun accompaniment and I loved it, but I also love it a cappella - we rarely sing a cappella, and it's cool. So, I want to do both. Good Tidings (that we're together again) and merry, merry (merry making together again) and the fa-la-la element (singing merrily) are all simply perfect. This song also requires good watching for us to stay together with the timing changes. 

4. We Need a Little Christmas right this very minute. We're learning this one from the beginning. Some of us have seen it while we were having Zoom Choir. But, in real life, it's all new. 

Watch this: 

Don't worry; I won't ask you to dance. But, they look like they're having so much fun, right?!

5. Thank You for the Music is coming along wonderfully! Lauren is going to write out the parts in section C and at the end so you can see your part alone, but that takes some time. Hopefully, we'll have it next week. Think about singing that solo at E, or being Marlene's backup (Marlene wasn't there, so we volunteered her. I think she'd be a super "girl with silver hair")

We talked about the next small group, and listened to 2 Christmas Hymns from Voices United to decide on Once in Royal David's City. This small group will start on November 1st. 

Next week, Tuesday, October 25th, There's Still My Joy will meet at 6:45. 

Next week, we'll start promoting our concert: Merrily Singing Together: a Real Live Holiday Concert on December 4th at 3pm.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 2022-OCT-11

I'm so sorry to have missed this rehearsal! 

I had a little business trip which was very nice and quite successful. Still, I hate to miss choir because of work. And, it was the big move to Christmas rehearsal. Up to now, we only did Magic of Winter, and this week, the Christmas music all came out. Lauren sent me this very thorough report:

The small group There's Still My Joy met and all learned the verses and the harmonies for the chorus. The music switches back and forth from 3/4 to 4/4 time and the timing is very tricky.

1. Wonderful World: focus on the louder bright, quieter night. Really just a warm up. But sounded fantastic.

2. Magic of Winter: a couple of hissing s's at wakes and lakes on page 5 that could use some attention but could be performed today and be good.

3. We Need a Little Christmas. We got through to the top of page 9 although we'll need some review, especially the tenors for their special bits.

4. Thank You For the Music: we went over and over the chorus. I offered to break everyone's parts out like I did for Bring Him Home and the offer was gratefully accepted. I'll try to do that this week. (Thank you, Lauren! It's so hard to read three parts squished into one staff)

5. We Wish You A Merry Madrigal: went really well, considering we haven't sung it for a while. Only problem was the tempo slowed throughout when we sang without Donna, although as she pointed out, we stayed precisely on key, which was great. Dynamics were also good but could use a little more drama in my (humble?) opinion. (I will work on drama with you.)

6. Little Tree: we could perform that today and it would be great. Sopranos hesitated at the beginning of your favourite section so that could use a little review. (My favourite section?! We will fix that.)

7. Grown Up Christmas List: we looked at the coda timing -- both bars 26 to 28 and bars 41 and 42. The key change could use some work, and there was some fumbling to get back to the beginning, even though I reviewed the pages before we sang. I suggested to the second sopranos that they sing the alto A flat right before the split for the final "list", bars 44 to 45. It makes their part A, B, C, A (instead of E), B. Also, I realized after that I forgot to mention to anyone with new copies that we are changing every man to everyone.

8. New Year's Blessing: we just went through it a couple of times. Sounding OK but needs more work.

9. Blue Skies: we reviewed because I am hearing harmony in the alto/tenor part in the section starting at 21. Having no alto but me there, it was easy to see the problem is with the altos as the tenors were singing it fine. 

10.Why We Sing: I just told people to sing the solos but in twos and threes. I had Lynn and Bev sing the first one, Kit, Rosemarie and Janice sing the second, Blair and Melinda sing the third, Kathy and Nadine sing the fourth, and it built nicely that way and no one felt too terrible about being singled out. (I love that!)

Wow! You did so much AND you had a coffee time social with snacks and decaf coffee at breaktime?!!

I'm so impressed, and happy to know that you're good without me, but I will do my best not to miss any more!

Next week, the small group is meeting again at 6:45.

We will continue to work on Thank You and Blessing, and Grown-up, and Need a Little Christmas, and we'll continue to have fun with the stuff we know well.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 2022-OCT-04

 Oh, boy! I've been a little crazy with work and Thanksgiving and everything. 

Finally, here's a review of the past rehearsal:

Our warm-ups included dancing a twist (Reet Petite was the song) and humming along with the YRCC singing O Shenandoah. Such a beautiful song, and the most wonderful arrangement and performance by us!

1.Wonderful World: we decided to increase the volume on Bright Blessed Day to create greater contrast with Dark Sacred Night. Stunning.

2. Blue Skies: we got other people to try the scat solos!!! And, it was fine. 

3. Thank you for the Music! We did the whole section C! We will continue to work on this, but wow, is it ever coming along nicely! 

4. New Year Blessing: We did the parts on the second page and thought about how to make it longer, maybe by having everyone in unison for the whole thing, with no fermatas, straight-up and then repeating with the fancy ending with all the drama. Donna could come up with a straight-up accompaniment for the first go-through. 

5. Magic of Winter: it's been cold, but we're not really ready for winter. Still, this is so pretty!

6. Why We Sing: we got 4 new, different soloists to try and it was nice! You can do it! Especially, when it's just for us, and not an audience. Maybe some day?

Next week:

6:45 Small Group: There's Still My Joy 

bring money/cheques for the Nov. 18 singalong show at RHCPA

Renate will be absent, but Donna and Lauren will lead you wonderfully

Social (decaf)Coffee Break - Yay! enjoy your social time. I'm sorry to need to miss it.