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Larry had not seen most of his college friends since he walked off the Michigan State University Campus in 1971.  That is a long time!  So this weekend we flew to East Lansing for a reunion…….a fantastic gathering of seven fun couples- Don & Gail, Jeff & Kathy, Dave & Marcia, Charlie & Linda, Warren and Debbie, Larry & Judy, and us.   All - guys and gals - were graduates of Michigan State except for me and another wife, Kathy -  and she was president of the Michigan State "Rebounders" basketball fan club for three years.  I was truly the "green" one……as in new. But I was proud to wear MSU Green! I worked hard to learn everyone's name and at least had the first names down after a day.  It was amazing how Larry and friends just took up where they left off so many years ago.   We all had a ball!   Being a Big Ten school demands lots of hoopla!   I had never been to a big university game.  I graduated from the University of Findlay and then Peabody.  Not too much football in my college life.  So it was great fun to be in a huge stadium with all the green Michigan State shirts.  I even had one. 

The highlight was the tailgate party before the game and of course the big game.  We had breakfast (Don's biscuits and sausage gravy) along with Bloody Marys and Mimosas.   Then we took a tour of the new basketball arena where we just happened to meetCoach Tom Izzo, who took time to talk with us and we had our picture taken with him.   Izzo is God at State.  We went back to our tailgater, and the Michigan State Men’s Glee Club came by to serenade us with great “fight” songs.   I couldn’t believe it when my husband got up and sang with them!  He knew all the words and moves and he had a ball. No, he never sang in college. He should have. After the game we all went to the dorm where they all lived for three years.   Memories………….

We hope all of them will come to watch the University of Maryland and Michigan State game next November.  This will be Maryland's first year in the Big Ten and we're excited to now have Big Ten games in our "backyard."   We're looking forward to lots more fun weekends in our future.

kel_0072-1-izzo-low-resMe with my new best friend - Coach Tom Izzo

The chorale rehearsals are going so well.   And singers keep coming.   Amazing.   A Smithsonian singer told me this morning that Encore is the best thing going for older people in Washington.  I believe that.   We have a blast, we challenge ourselves and we learn so much.  We stay healthy and happy and very musical.   Nothing better.

About the Osprey…………..Yesterday at our rehearsals I mentioned that I thought they were gone.  Lo and behold, one was on top of our mast last night.   Larry didn’t put the owl up because he thought they were gone.   Not yet - but soon!

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jk_blog_photoAhhhhhhh!!  The sunrise over the Eastern Shore this morning was spectacular.  It is the rare moment that something stops me dead in my track……allows me to pause and ponder.  It was so breathtaking.  

I lost my thought as I was watching and poured my cheerios into my coffee. Surprised 

All the chorales are opening to great singers awaiting a great challenge.  And the numbers are all rising.   Encore is soaring.   I love the fact that so many singers now know each other and have forged strong friendships.   The social aspect of Encore is important.   Encore serves as the best preventive medicine I know.   The very best!

Tomorrow morning I will have an English muffin – easier!

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rudesheim-webPartying in Rudesheim, Germany

When I was a younger gal,  I always heard older friends say that time goes much faster as you age.   Understatement!!  To say the least.

I have no idea where the summer went.   None.  Except that I know I was not home much.   I started with the Normandy to Paris cruise in late May. 

Then I went to our Encore Institute at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Was home for three short weeks working hard on firming up the fall season and also Chautauqua.

My good friend Janie Powers and I went to Ocean City for three days  and had a blast.  Had not been away with a girlfriend for probably 45 years.   Fun!   

Then we had weddings in Philly and Knoxville.  

Then off to Salt Lake City to help Mary Lou Prince open her Salt Lake Encore Chorale.

Then it was off for two fabulous weeks in Europe, cruising from Amsterdam to Vienna. (Have you tried those Amsterdam brownies?:)

Then home for two very very short days and off to our Encore Institute at Chautauqua.  

We got home from Chautauqua at 11pm Friday and Larry and I were onboard our beloved Cantabile for three days of sailing.   Ahhhhhhhh   But you can be assured my brain was on overload thinking about everything I needed to do to get ready for the opening of all our chorales on Tuesday, Sept. 3.   Life is busy and the busier it gets, the faster it goes.   I would like a little more free time and I would like it if our darling little grandsons stayed little.  They love anything we do and they get so excited when they see us which is about every other week.   They are the best!  

So far this week, we have opened Potomac, Langston Brown, Smithsonian (143 singers!),  Asbury Methodist, Southern Maryland, and Leisure   World Encore Chorales.  Salt Lake Encore Chorale is scheduled to open this week.

Tomorrow is Washington Conservatory of Music, and Friday brings Goodwin Houses of Alexandria and Baileys into the picture.   On Monday, our newest chorale, Alexandria, opens, along with Schweinhaut and AACC.

Myerberg opens next Thursday.   Whew!  I think we need to add a day to my calendar.

It is always so wonderful to see all the singers return.  And they bring their friends.   Encore is so social. It is such a joy for me to watch what is happening to Encore.   Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think Encore would become what it is.   I absolutely love it!  And every year the singers get better.

I am already thinking about spring music and it has to be fabulous because we will be singing this music in Vienna, Prague and possibly Bratislava.    Come with us on the Danube.  Only 30 openings remain. I can only guarantee you an incredible experience.  Not a bad guarantee.

Gotta go tape the baritone rehearsal CD.  Yes,  I have become a baritone for a day!

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lucas-chuckecheeseLucas with Chuck E. Cheese

I never thought babysitting for our two grandsons would be so utterly exhausting!  Oh, I can hear you all laughing at me. Gigum and Gipa (Yes, Lucas actually made up those names for us) had the pleasure of babysitting Lucas, 2 years and 8 months and his seven month old brother, Trevor ("Big T") this past weekend while their mommy and daddy went to Annapolis to celebrate their wedding anniversary.  

The weekend included a trip to Chuck E. Cheese (Lucas loves it!), Maggie Moo's, time in the hot tub, trying to keep Lucas from killing Trevor with his attempts to "play" and general mayhem. We didn’t stop for the entire time.  Wow.  I know I raised two daughters who were 2 ½ years apart but I did it when I was in my twenties.  It is totally a different ball game when you are in your sixties!

But we sure did laugh.  And Lucas is tricky.  Larry told him he was being too rough with his brother and Lucas wouldn’t talk to Larry for two hours.

And Lucas is quite the little singer.  We were amazed when he sang along to all the songs on a CD in the car and his pitch is incredible.   He will definitely be an Encore singer in 53 years.   He promised! 

Encore Central continues to be extremely busy.   We go from one big project to another.   Larry was preparing for a pre-audit financial review last week.  And Jenn (my spectacular assistant) and I are making edits to our Affiliate handbook.

We have a big interest from University of NC at Asheville Reuter Center and another inquiry from the Northeast Iowa School of Music.  It's exciting to being generating such an interest across the country.

Chautauqua is on the front burner but before I go to Chautauqua, I fly to Salt Lake City to do an Encore Workshop for folks interested in joining the new Salt Lake City Encore Chorale.

And then it is suddenly September with 13 local area Encore Chorales starting!

I can remember what I said to myself as I sat at the dining room table July 1, 2007, writing the mission statement for Encore.  I said……….I will have so much free time.  Ha Ha!

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z017Singer Heather Gardiner

Had Time to Pursue Another PassionI just returned from our sixth annual Encore Chorale Institute at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.   We all had a grand time.   All 60 of us.  The sound was magnificent!   And…….we had 11 baritones!   Count them ….. 11   !!!!!!   And what a great sound they had.

We ate copious amounts of food, enjoyed the beautiful surroundings in St. Mary’s County, enjoyed great weather (except for the pouring rain on the first day,)  rehearsed wonderful music,   had a great time in the movement classes and learned a lot about how to sing.   It was truly a great five days.

Now I am back in the office putting final plans together for our Encore Institute at Chautauqua.  Time does not stand still at Encore.   We go from one big thing to the next and it is all very exciting. It is so great to see the singers enjoying themselves so much and singing so beautifully.   I love it.   Simply love it.

Jenn, my extraordinary assistant, and I are planning for the fall chorales and actually fall is right around the corner.   But before fall, I will be working with my conductors on the holiday music, making the rehearsal CDs, getting over 5,200 pieces of music ready to hand out, working with folks who will be starting an Encore Chorale in Sarasota, FL  and I travel to Salt Lake City, UT to give an Encore workshop. Salt Lake City will be getting an Encore Chorale in the fall.   All very exciting.   And oh yes,   Larry and I are spending as much time as we can with the Lucas and Trevor, our precious little grandsons.  And of course we are trying to find time to sail.  That is becoming difficult.   But……….for those of you who have been following the Osprey saga……..

It seems that the Osprey loves to perch on the top of our 58 foot mast.   He flies up there with his latest catch and then eats it and all the fish bones and innards cascade down to our lovely white deck!   So we hired a rigger to go up and put spikes on top of the mast.   Well, the Osprey was not deterred.

So the rigger went up again and added more spikes.   Ha Ha…….the Osprey then perched on the wind instrument, continuing to eat fish!   So the rigger went up again and anchored a fake owl on top of our mast.   Larry said it was absolutely hysterical to watch the Osprey dive bomb the owl.  He was one ticked off Osprey.  But evidently he got the idea.  No more Osprey on top of our mast!!!  But that owl looks ridiculous!  We will be the talk of the Bay………..

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bizet_rehearsal-webIt has been quite a while since I have written.  Where oh where did May go?  Well, Encore sang ten concerts and then we left for France May 15 and returned Memorial Day.  That's where May went!

The concerts were absolutely wonderful!  The singers performed.....presented - they just didn't sing.  Everyone can sing notes, but our Encore singers perform.  None of them have to be on stage.  They are there because they love to sing!  And it shows.  I am always overwhelmed with joy when I watch their faces up on stage.  We are one very happy community up there.  And the buzz after concert?  Amazing.  I would bet that everyone's blood pressure is quite low after a concert.  And lungs are very happy because they have just been used big time.  So we are one happy and healthy bunch.  Sing ON!

Then there was France.  Ahhhhhhhhh France!  Even though the weather did not cooperate,  the scenery was beautiful, the towns idyllic, the food wonderful and the wine plentiful.  We got to know each other better with the relaxing dining.  And the included tours of Normandy and Giverny and Paris and the walking tour of Honfleur  were excellent.  We visited Normandy in heavy rain, wind and cold temps.....comparable to the landing in 1946. Normandy moved us all.  To have the chance to sing at the cemetery was unforgettable.  I will never forget looking out over all those graves and cherishing my freedom.

The highlight of the trip was our concert in Rouen.  I managed to contract a nasty stomach bug on Sunday night and spent the entire Monday in my cabin. I started to panic about the Tuesday concert.  I was feeling so badly. There was no way I could conduct if I felt like that.  Mind over matter. Woke up Tuesday morning still feeling pretty weak but we had a mission. Got out of bed and went on the walking tour of Rouen, rehearsed the singers, took a nap and left for the abbey at 5:30pm

When we pulled up to the abbey, I thought the bus driver took us to the wrong place.  The abbey was huge.....gorgeous......and Encore was going to perform there!  Unbelievable. I suddenly got a ton of energy.  We all went inside with our jaws dropped
and we suddenly all became very serious about what we had to do!  We met the conductor of the Rouen City Hall Choir - "Present" and the singers. They rehearsed and we rehearsed and then we combined for "Oh Happy Day"  and the sound was incredible.  The reverberation was 3 seconds or more.  The singers sounded glorious. 

Concert hour came and I no longer had to worry if anyone was going to come and hear us.  The people streamed in and suddenly there were no seats.  We were so excited.  The concert was an incredible and unforgettable experience for us all.  To have the opportunity to sing with the French singers was something we will all remember forever.  And the audience loved every minute.

Even the caption of our ship, Bizet, attended!

We all went back to the ship where the crew served lots of wine and food. What a perfect evening!  Perfect in every way. 

Going in a completely different direction,  Tom and Tillie, the Osprey, flew off to an undisclosed location.  I have no idea if the Osprey who perches on the top of our mast is Tom or Tillie, or one of their friends.  But I do know that we had to hire a rigger to come and put spikes on top of the mast to keep them off!!!

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tom-tille-04aBirds Do It, Bees Do It, Even Educated Fleas Do It……….

Tom and Tillie did it.   You know…….. “IT!!”  Larry and I were enjoying a glass of wine after a very long week and we were really loving the view out of our living room window.

All of a sudden, Tom swoops down to Tillie.   Didn’t take more than six seconds!  Then he flew off (see the picture Larry took - is that a smile on his face?).   Not terribly romantic.   But within the hour,  Tom and Tillie did the most beautiful dance together flying through the air.  They were so much fun to watch.   The romance came!

 

I think it all happened because they heard the amorous sounds of the Gershwin coming from my piano.   So singers, get romantic.   We have to sell this Gershwin!

 

Ahh, the joys of spring on the Chesapeake……………………

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tom-tille-01a

Folks on the Chesapeake Bay are wild about their beloved Osprey.  The Osprey fly back every March and build nests and have babies and then fly south every fall.   They love nesting in the day markers and some residents build special platforms for them to nest.   It seems that our particular neighborhood Osprey love our 58 foot sailboat mast, as I have mentioned. And they make one heck of a mess!  We went down to sail on Sunday, and that Osprey must have dined on a huge fish from its perch high on our mast. There were fish bones and guts everywhere.   Took quite a while to clean it up.   Then we sailed!

I have been watching a pair of Osprey who I will call Tom and Tillie.  They have taken up residence on top of a power boat canvas awning.  The boat is docked on our community pier.  This morning they were busy bringing in materials to make their nest.   I can’t imagine what that boat will look like.  But more than that, they will scream at anyone who walks out on the dock.   I think we should get rid of the early beginnings of this nest before mamma really settles in.  I watched  Tom search for breakfast.  He came up with a fish about 10 inches long.  It was so heavy he couldn’t get it back to the “nest” so he landed on the closest piling. He sat there for 45 minutes devouring the poor fish.  Tillie got so hungry that she flew off to find her own fish.  It was all very amusing.   Just so they stay off our mast!

The rehearsals this week have been fabulous.    Everyone is watching like a hawk…… or should I say Osprey? They know their music and they are selling the songs!  They are performing, not just singing.   Just what I wanted.   I knew it would all come together.  I went up to Asbury Methodist Encore Chorale yesterday to conduct the rehearsal.   They were really terrific.   They sing under Bob Johnson who has done a terrific job training them.

Myerberg singers gave a splendid performance this morning at Myerberg Senior Center for a very appreciative audience.   I was so proud of them!   We all had a ball.

So one concert down and nine to go.   Next up is Leisure World next Wednesday.   Sing on!

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000_osprey_on_r4_coloreverywhere_preset

Well, it is officially spring.  The Osprey are back.  And they have been perched on our 56 foot mast since they flew back from South America.   That means that our boat deck is filthy! They just love our mast.  It is the tallest around and they are drawn to it.  Without exception, every morning an Osprey is up there enjoying the Chesapeake Bay sunrise.  He/she has a better view than I do.  It is driving Larry nuts.   We are trying to figure out what to do.  I guess yours truly will be going up in the mast soon!  This morning was very funny to watch.  The Osprey was on the top but about three feet below was a starling just pestering the Osprey to death.  They don’t get along.

They both are pretty darn scrappy.  Just so the ducks don’t take up residence in the cockpit and lay eggs.  They have done that in the past and that means you cannot destroy the nest and that means you cannot use the boat.

Ah the joys of spring returning.

Our little Lucas continues to improve from his Meningitis.  Thank heavens.   He tires quickly, but the prognosis is good.

Encore Chorale rehearsals have been spirited and excellent.   The singers are really getting psyched about the upcoming concerts.  This repertoire is so much fun to rehearse and finally, the singers are starting to make friends with the infamous “Ching a Ring Chaw” piece.   I am impressed by these singers who continually challenge themselves to sing better.   I have the best job in the world!

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This past Saturday, Encore hosted a delightful pre-cruise party at Les Folies Brasserie in Annapolis, Maryland for our singers and spouses cruising May 15 on Grand Circle Cruise Line's Normandy to Paris cruise.  80 out of the 102 cruisers joined us for great French food and wine, a tease for what we can expect in France!

Everyone mingled and traded travel and Encore stories.   Brady Ryan from Grand Circle flew down from Boston to speak about the cruise.   He also gave us insight into our planned May 2014 Blue Danube cruise.   We already have 28 Encore singers and spouses signed up for the Danube cruise!   Sounds like our Encore singers love cruising, singing and fun.   Grand Circle is holding the ship open to Encore only through the end of March 2013.  All the information is on our web sitWe.   So now is the time to decide to join us!   Our children always ask what we want for birthdays and holidays……….and who needs another bathrobe?  Ask for The Blue Danube! (WATCH A VIDEO PREVIEW OF THE DANUBE TRIP HERE)

 Wasn’t that one heck of a snow storm last week?  Haha.  And to think we did not have a rehearsal on Wednesday because of it.   I always build in two extra weeks during the winter/spring singing sessions because of the possibility of snow.   Smart thinking.  

The rehearsals are really starting to show some great singing and personality.   I am very pleased.  We have a lot of music and it is all coming together.   I know the audience will love the program.   Audiences appreciate music that they can go out humming.   The Gershwin will offer them just that.   Such fabulous tunes.   And the singers are enjoying rehearsing all the music.   There is a real buzz during and after rehearsal. 

 Encore has done it again.  We are the proud recipient of a grant from The MetLIfe Foundation Creative Aging Program, which was funded by the MetLife Foundation and administered by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.   Bravo Encore and Bravo Encore Singers.   Encore is a dream come true.

We started Encore almost seven years ago, and never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would be such a huge success and so much fun.   We bring enjoyment not only to ourselves as singers but to our audiences who attend our excellent free concerts.

I can remember sitting at my desk seven years ago, writing the mission statement and thinking I would have a lot of free time.   Oh boy……….was I wrong about the free time!   But what a great ride it has been, and I can’t wait to see what we become.   Sing on!

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What a welcomed and fabulous sight to see when I returned home from work yesterday.  Our beloved sailboat “Cantabile” was back in her slip after a long winter nap on the hard.   Her 58 foot mast stands tall, just waiting for the Osprey to fly back from way down south.   The deck will not be clean for long!  Those Osprey sit on top of the mast and I don’t have to tell you what they do.  J   I have seen Larry run down the dock, clapping his hands and screaming at them.  They fly away, but return soon.   Good exercise for Larry.

photoLucas Didn't Lack for Toys in the Hospital!

It has been quite a week for us.   Our adorable little Lucas was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis last Friday.   After being sick with double ear infections, suffering dehydration, pink eye and rashes from allergic reactions to the drugs,   going to four pediatricians and two ENT doctors,  he was sent to the hospital on Thursday, very sick.  They did an MRI and spinal tap and found the meningitis.   Very scary for all of us.   He will be on intravenous antibiotics for three weeks.  But we see light at the end of the tunnel.

Tiffany and Mike are superb parents, holding it together.  It isn’t easy when you have a sick 2 ½ year old and a three month baby.   I am so proud of them.

Rehearsals continue to go very well.  Our audiences are going to love this music.   Now the push is on to “sell” the music…………present it……….have a blast.   We will be ready!

Now is we could just get the weather to cooperate.   Snow yesterday morning!   ARGH!  Double ARGH!!

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jeanne_serenade_2012It has certainly been a long time since I have written.   The last time I wrote was the day after we completed our holiday concert season with that spectacular performance at the Kennedy Center, and I was ready for a long winter’s nap.  I got one and a half naps in!  Then it was on to celebrating the holiday.

And then it was on to dealing with over 5,200 pieces of choral music for our 13 Encore Chorales which would all begin January 7.   So I didn’t get too much of a vacation……….

I always have this dreaded feeling of “are the singers going to like the music that I have chosen?”   Well they do!   Rehearsals have been fun and we have 650 happy and healthy singers enjoying themselves.  We have all created something really wonderful.  Last night Larry and I and friends went to see the very lovely movie “Quartet”  and as I watched the retired musicians adore their music and especially their performances,   I could not help but think of Encore. Come on Hollywood,  it’s time for a movie about Encore.  Smile

Our newest Affiliate Encore Chorale is the Greater Reading Encore Chorale conducted by Dave Rutt.   They are doing so well.   I hope many more affiliate chorales will begin popping up across the country.   I hope Reading will come down and join us for a concert next year.  

I always add a few weeks into the spring schedule just in case of snow.   Well, we dodged the big one last week and my forecast says no more snow, although I really want one big one……..the kind that makes you just stay inside…..the kind that invites closets to be cleaned,  the basement to be rearranged, and holiday music to be chosen for 2013. 

No sunrise this dreary Monday morning, but the winter sunrises are the most spectacular.  I love them.  They are one of my favorite  things about living on the bay.  Maybe tomorrow.

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I really love our new home office!  And Spencer and Spicy love it too!   They come down with me at 5am and get copious amounts of scratches and pets.  I sit and watch CNN go on and on about the debates and then I switch to the Weather Channel. I love the Weather Channel!  I don’t know if it is because my Dad loved it or because I am a sailor and always wondering what the weather will be.  But I could watch it for hours.   It drives Larry nuts.

From the couch I can see the screen saver on Larry’s computer and I am reminded what a great life I have.   Pictures stream by of great family pictures,  our little Lucas at the wheel of Cantabile this summer,  family gatherings, Larry and I on board Cantabile in some gorgeous Chesapeake cove, and very happy pictures of hundreds of Encore singers.   Better than a movie.  And Larry has hundreds of pictures.   And all the singers have huge smiles.  Yes, it is a reminder that all the driving and eating yogurt and a granola bar en route to my next rehearsal is well worth what I receive.  Encore has become a way of life for both Larry and me.  And over 540 singers!

It is a balmy 60 degrees outside this am and the tide is running very high.  But colder temps and windy conditions are expected this pm.   Gee, don’t I sound like a weatherman.   Next career!

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cb_rainbowWe are now into our third and fourth weeks of rehearsals and all chorales are truly amazing.  The largest is Smithsonian with 80 singers.  The smallest is also our newest, at Anne Arundel Community College with 10 singers, but they sure can sing and sight-read.  All totaled, Encore now has over 400 singers, ages 55 to 96, in Virginia, Maryland, DC, and Ohio - with more to be added in Pennsylvania this week (see below).  And sing they do!  The rehearsals are so much fun.  The singers ask lots of questions and are really into improving their voices.  We have talked a lot about vocal technique and you can hear the difference.  I have spent my entire life teaching voice and I still get to teach it everyday.

Tomorrow is a big day in Indiana, Pennsylvania.  A new Affiliate Encore Chorale of Indiana, PA will be born under the expert direction of Jane Potter Baumer.  Jane was a voice student of mine many years back and is now living in Indiana, PA where she has a very successful private voice studio and sings professionally.  She has two lovely daughters and her husband is on the music faculty at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  I can't wait to hear how their first rehearsal goes.  If you know anyone who loves to sing in or near Indiana, see details here.

Larry and I spent the entire weekend working on Encore business.  Lucky for us the weather was not great.  So we really got a lot accomplished.  Just keeping the rosters up to date is a huge chore, especially at this time of year when we have so many new programs and singers.  But everyone is on email and we are very organized.  I am already thinking about spring and camp repertoire.

So after working the weekend away, we decided to sail at 3pm Sunday when the sun came through.  It was gorgeous when we left the dock.  Nice wind, good glass of wine and the !)@(#$*&%$^ Redskins game on the radio in the background.  The game was a disaster - the Skins are a disaster.  Encore is so much better. Laughing We should be on the radio.

Anyway,  the sky started to darken and within a half hour the heavens opened up.  We couldn't see anything.  It rained so hard it stung our face, even under the boat canvas.  But it was still an adventure on Cantabile.   Just being out there with no computer, phone, washing machine, garden..........pure bliss.   And then the rain stopped and we were treated to a double rainbow.   Absolutely gorgeous. Ordinarily, we keep a camera on board - figures we were without it on Sunday. Fortunately, our friends, Ed and Claudia Evans were out on their boat and took the picture above (thanks, Claudia!).  I will hold that image until this weekend.   Nothing like sailing!

 

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JK_Boat_042509Last week Encore proudly opened our second Affiliate Encore Chorale in Indiana, PA under the very excellent and able direction of Jane Potter Baumer.   The chorale members were very excited to be a part of Encore and they started right in rehearsing holiday music for their very own performances.   Encore keeps growing and serving so many singers.   I feel like a very proud parent!

Last week, our Encore rehearsals were so stimulating and the singers are sounding grand, in just four weeks.    So I gave them a new piece, (the mother of all pieces)    Christmas Goes Classical.   What a blast!   We are going to have fun with that.

And the singers are learning so much about vocal production.   We had a bass at Potomac Academy, Jed Duvall, who discovered a whole new voice.   We were all cheering.  And only after Michael Winter, Potomac baritone, exclaimed  "spend the money."   It would be hard to explain,  but boy, did it work!   

Today is our first Encore Singers performance at Brighton Gardens on Tuckerman Lane, under the brilliant direction of Linda Maguire.   The singers are so excited and their program is challenging and fun.   I am really looking forward to hearing and seeing them perform.

Gotta go sing!!!

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This past weekend was the quintessential sailing weekend.    Bright sunny skies,  great wind, cool temperatures.   So Larry and I sailed up to the beautiful Rhode River, about a two hour sail from our home.   We anchored in a gorgeous spot that overlooks all the Smithsonian wetlands.   It is truly spectacular.   The geese were flying, the sun was setting and then........the brilliant,  almost-full moon was rising in the East.   It lit up the entire Bay.   The official full moon was not until Sunday, and with the great forecast, we decided we should share this with someone.   So we called some friends and they were available, so we were set to do a full moon cruise.

Sunday morning came with a brilliant blue sky and excellent wind.  We wanted to get back to port to do some touch up work on our boat teak (boat has to be perfect for guests and the full moon) and do some food shopping.   When we got out on the bay, we only needed to fly the jib (forward sail) because the wind was plentiful and soon we were charging down to Herring Bay at 6 knots.   Ahhhhhhhhhhh

I was sailing the boat and Larry was taking a nap.   I love sailing this boat.   It seems like complete freedom and when he is not overlooking my skills, I feel like a pro.   Confident.   I dodged hundreds of crab pots.  They move them out to deeper water when the temperatures get colder.

tow_jammWhen we arrived in Herring Bay Larry was awake and he took over the helm.   Within ten minutes he had snagged a crab pot on our propeller.   ARGH!   With the crab pot line entwined around the propeller, you can't use the engine and we have to use the engine to get into our slip.   So we had a true problem.   It was very windy and the best solution was to drop the jib and put the anchor down and call     "Tow Jamm - Boat US".   Yep, we had to get towed!   And we had to cancel our full moon cruise and call a diver to come this week and cut the line off the propeller.  Double ARRGH.

Way to go darling husband.  Undecided But don't worry,  the next time we go aground or snag a crab pot, I will probably be at the helm and then you can @##$$%%^&@&^*    J

There will be another full moon in a month!

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60Today I am 60 years old!  Wow!  How in the world did that happen?  When I sit back and think about it,  I have packed a lot into those 60 years.  Two fabulous daughters, a fabulous husband, a truly exciting Encore nonprofit, etc. etc.  But the best years are yet to come...

The day started when I got up at 5:30am to a Happy Birthday song from my dear husband.  I made coffee as the Beatles' Birthday screamed in the background.  We danced, acted like kids, and then he told me to go down and check my email - and stay down until he called for me.  I thought maybe he was going to drive a new car into my parking space. Laughing My dear, dear Volvo has 264,000 miles.  But in a few minutes I was summoned upstairs and there were 60 cupcakes and one chocolate mocha cupcake (with candle) from the Cupcake Shop, just for me. He said he decided that, instead of a cake with 60 candles, he'd give me 60 cakes with one candle (plus one cake for luck). Larry is very clever!  I loved it.  And then there was the little box, wrapped perfectly with a beautiful bow.  An incredible ring that I have had my eye on!  I guess 60 years bring a very nice present.

Larry left for work, and I watched over the Bay as the sun started to paint the sky beautiful reds and oranges and pinks.  A heron landed in the marsh, the geese were flying, and finally the sun made a grand appearance.  What a day already, and it was only 7am!

I am one lucky lady.

Happy Birthday to Me!

3:30pm Update

j_bday_myerbergI took all the cupcakes up to the Myerberg Encore Chorale this morning. We had a fabulous rehearsal - and we snagged another great tenor. This group is really cooking!  After the rehearsal was over, I told them it was my birthday and got out the cupcakes. 40 cupcakes down and 20 to go!  Some of us decided to kneel or sit for the picture on the left - and, quite amazingly at our age, we all got back up!

 

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With 59 singers, the Langston Brown Encore Chorale, one of Encore's original, can raise the roof!  And the addition of 14 new singers this fall, certainly adds a "certain something."  Welcome to the newest members of the Langston Brown Chorale: Sopranos Lorna Harrison, Rada Nikolic, Fran Sims, and Donna White; Altos Ruby Chapman, Mary Cotrell, Anita Defranco, Lois Gordon, Barbara Lundquist, Beth Moffett, Syvlia Rabinovitz, and Laurie Rodgers; Tenor Norman D'Amours; and Baritone Max Rabinovitz.  Some photos from a recent rehearsal below:

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gha_betty_gail_elliott-2There is a book out there entitled Why Bad Things Happen to Good People but I doubt it could explain the pain I am feeling. Today the Goodwin House Alexandria Encore Chorale suffered a huge blow. Three of our wonderful singers were involved in a car accident yesterday afternoon. Betty Gail Elliott was killed, her sister Edith is in critical condition, and Peggy Trotter, thankfully, was released from the hospital today.

The Goodwin House Alexandria rehearses on Friday so this morning we all learned the horrible news together. It is one thing to die of natural causes, but it is entirely a different thing to be killed. I can't make any sense out of this. We all are grieving. These women were all so vibrant. Betty Gail was such an integral part of the Goodwin community. She made a huge difference. She was always positive. She helped me with the music library and she put up posters for our concerts. She took such good care of her sister Edith. And she was a long time and dear friend to Peggy. I knew all three for the past ten years.

The Goodwin House Alexandria Encore Chorale decided the best thing to do was to carry on with our rehearsal. And sing they did! Music took us to another place where we all could find peace and comfort.

Please keep these three Encore singers in your thoughts. I would really appreciate that.

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