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JK_Boat_042509You can tell it's fall. There are lots of large sailboats and motor yachts coming into the marina near our house. They are heading south for the winter to the Caribbean and points beyond and they make a stop in Tracys Landing for the evening. I stand at our window watching and dream about our plans to do some long term cruising in about six years. I have been reading the cruising log of one of our Goodwin House Alexandria singers. Charles Hanzlik and his wife Ruth did a lot of cruising in their sailing life. The log is fabulous. I have had a hard time putting it down. They cruised down the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) many times on their way to the islands. One of the logs is from a trip they took to the Island of Corsica. They flew over and then leased a sailboat for three weeks and sailed around the island of Corsica. AHHHHHH!

Encore rehearsals are now going at a breakneck pace. I wonder how many times the singers hear me say, "watch me." I am sure they have lost count. But it is working! The notes are almost all there. Now it is time for polishing and being able to have lots of fun performing. That's what it is all about. It truly takes about 15 weeks to get ready for concerts. Christmas Goes Classical has been a bear to learn but it will definitely be a show stopper.

Off to Smithsonian Encore Chorale rehearsal. I have wonderful and eager 80 singers awaiting!

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03-ll_2009novThis past weekend Larry and I drove to Hudson, Ohio where I did a choral workshop for our Laurel Lake Affiliate Encore Chorale. What a great day! The singers were so quick in learning new music and we plowed through about ten pieces in six hours. We did a lot of work on vocal technique. The attentive and talented singers really were great to work with. And their very talented and much loved conductor, Donna Anderson, was singing in the soprano section. She isn't 55, but we let her sing anyway. Wink The chorus really produced a marvelous sound. (See more about the workshop and photo slide show here.)

And when we returned home, I already had some emails of thanks from the singers at the workshop. They said they hoped to see me at the Encore Chorale Camp in Chautauqua next summer. Chautauqua is only about two hours away from Hudson.

Speaking of the summer camps, we already have registrations!  One each for Chautauqua and St. Mary's came in over the weekend.  Now that's the kind of advance planning I like!

Yesterday was a glorious day - seventy two degrees and sunny. Finally no rain or high wind! Actually, as it turned out, there was no wind!  We went out on the bay aboard Cantabile and tried to sail for awhile, then gave up and turned on the engine. But it felt so good to be out on the bay.  But all good things must come to an end. It was a fluke to have that weather in mid-November and cold weather will be here soon. So yes, we took the sails off Cantabile and we will take them into the sail maker for inspection and cleaning. I feel like a limb is missing! Not sailing is like not being able to sing. So singers.......... Make me happy this week and sing really well!


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Encore Executive Director Jeanne Kelly traveled in November to Hudson, Ohio to conduct a vocal workshop at Encore's first Affiliate Chorale location, Laurel Lake Retirement Community, hosted by Donna Anderson, the Laurel Lake Encore Chorale Conductor. Forty energetic and excellent singers were in attendance.  Most of the singers were members of the Laurel Lake Encore Chorale, but the event also attracted singers age 55-plus from around the area.

The day started with registration and coffee & danish - and then the music began! Jeanne spent the first hour discussing vocal technique and how to make singing more comfortable and enjoyable. Next she introduced the singers to a selection of new choral repertoire they had never sung before.  Their sight reading skills were excellent and the sound they produced was full and rich.

After working hard all morning, lunch was served and the singers had the opportunity to visit and talk about their singing experiences.  They also began to build a consensus to take a "road trip" to Washington, DC next year to perform with the DC area chorales.

After lunch, it was time to resume singing. The group continued to plow through the challenging repertoire. By 2:30, the group was ready to put on a short concert program for some of the Laurel Lake residents who had gathered to observe the workshop.  It was a fun day to conclude a great day of learning and singing.



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JK_Boat_042509I had so much to give thanks for on Thanksgiving............and the day after.   We spent the day with family in Yardley, PA.   It was a wonderful day of visiting and great food.  I woke up the next morning at 5am, my usual, and my normal start to the day of making coffee and feeding the kitties was missing.   And I need my coffee!  So I set out in the car to go downtown Yardley, a lovely little and very old town on the banks of the Delaware River in Bucks County.   As I was driving down the hill into town I noticed a very old man, slumped over, dragging his coat and  walking down the street at the cold.   I went into Starbucks for my much needed coffee and some quiet time to read.   The gentleman came into Starbucks and I said hello and it was clear he was a little confused.  The staff asked if they could get him anything and he said he had no money.  I decided to buy him coffee and sat him down.  He couldn't even tell me his name or what he wanted in his coffee.   So I asked the staff if they had ever seen him before and they said no.  Hmmmm.  I immediately thought this dear old man was probably visiting relatives for the holiday and had awakened before anyone else and decided to take a walk and had no idea where he was staying.   I asked the staff to call the police.  I spoke with the policeman and asked him to drive the gentleman back up the hill  to see if he could possibly identify where he was staying, but I knew that was a long shot.   After about 15 minutes, the police came back to tell me he found the man's family outside looking for their loving father - grandfather and they were most grateful that he was found.   I was so happy to have  this man back with his family.   Much to be thankful for.

It's a busy busy busy time of the year.   This is the final week of rehearsals before we embark on our nine Encore Chorale performances and two Encore Singers performances.   The chorales are ready!   And I am ready! a great feeling of accomplishment.  Some of the singers have not sung in many years and they really have learned a lot.    The first concert is on Saturday with the Smithsonian Encore Chorale performing at the Renwick Gallery Children's Christmas holiday event.  Oh yes,  we are ready!

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holiday-concertThe Laurel Lake Encore Chorale and Ensembelle  presented a holiday at Laurel Lake Retirement Community, 200 Laurel Lake Drive in Hudson, Dec. 21, 2010.

The Encore Chorale features 50 singers age 55 and older from Hudson, Cuyahoga Falls, Twinsburg and neighboring cities, and is the first National Affiliate of Encore Creativity for Older Adults.

Ensembelle, a handbell quartet from the First United Methodist Church of Cuyahoga Falls, rings on four octaves of Schumerlich bells and has performed widely throughout the Greater Akron area.

The concert offered new works like Nicholas Myer's "The Winter's Night"; favorites such as the traditional French carol "What Is This Lovely Fragrance?" by Hal Hopson, "Go Tell It On The Mountain" by Howard Helvey, "Do You Hear What I Hear?" by Harry Simeone and "Carol of the Bells" by Charles Maggs; and popular songs with Sammy Cahn's "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!," Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" and James Eliot's "Over the River and Through the Woods."  Ensembelle, a handbell quartet from the First United Methodist Church of Cuyahoga Falls, also performed, ringing on four octaves of Schumerlich bells.

Audience members were invited to join the Chorale for light refreshments following the concert.

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dscf0074I woke up on Saturday, the day of our first holiday concert, and the entire DC region was under a winter storm advisory.   Oh great!  It was not suppose to start until about 11am, so I put out an email to let the Smithsonian Encore Chorale know we would be singing the concert.  Larry and I got in the car at 11am and the snow was coming down in buckets!  And it was blowing, with the snow coming down sideways.  Our luck!

But when we arrived at the beautiful Renwick,  most of the singers had braved the snow.   They looked beautiful and handsome and were ready to perform.   I loved the excitement.   And such a gorgeous hall to sing in.

Their performance was one of the best Encore has ever done.   The music, the singing, the was all fabulous.

After the Renwick concert, Larry and I drove to Brighton Gardens on Tuckerman Lane in Bethesda, where our Encore Singers under the direction of Linda Maguire were performing for their holiday Christmas party.  They were all in blue choir robes and some of them had wrist jingle bells.   They had a great time performing for their families.  Brighton Gardens went all out for the party.   It was so good to see all the smiles.

The holiday is here, and we have 8 more concerts.  I'm ready!!  And experience tells me they will just get better and better.  I have a great job!

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aimg_2501The Encore Chorales from Myerberg Senior Center and the Smithsonian Institution came together for a joint concert at the Kogod Courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art/National Portrait Gallery on Sunday, December 13th. Both chorales were at their best, putting on the best Encore concert of the holiday season to-date. Click on the photo below to launch a photo slideshow of the event.


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I am constantly amazed at how excellent and professional our Encore concerts are.  The singers are so well prepared and they are confident with their skills and they are having a ball performing.  I just go around with a huge smile on my face. 

Today is concert number six of the season and the Potomac Academy of GMU Encore Chorale will perform at the Woodlands Retirement Community.  Some of the singers from Lorton Encore Chorale will also be joining us.  We will be performing for their holiday Christmas party.  I love cookies!

aimg_2539The American Art Museum Kogod Courtyard concert (photo on left) was awesome on Sunday.  Despite the pathetic weather....rain, rain, rain, the singers really performed.  And it's always fun to have such a large and appreciative audience.  We all really had a great time.

I must be nuts.  Amidst all these ten Encore Chorale concerts, we are having our downstairs completely renovated.  That means walls taken down, new ceilings, walls and floor and new windows.  I feel like I am eating drywall dust.  And then there is the choosing of paint colors.  All I can think is that it has diverted my stress from the concerts to the house. Laughing

On to the Kennedy Center tomorrow.  Two hundred singers!  No stress.  Really!

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2-kc2009What a spectacular concert the Encore Chorales gave last night at the Kennedy Center. All 200 singers really gave their all. I thought I would lose my mind trying to seat them in the perfect formation that would allow for the best sound and blend. That is a very tricky place to perform. It is long and narrow and I just couldn't get it right. The singers were so patient and professional, as I moved them around for the third time! But finally we got it right and they performed so beautifully. And such energy. The huge audience loved them! We have never had such a large audience.

The Kennedy Center is magnificent. All red and festive and Christmas with beautiful trees. Just walking in gives you energy. We all went home happy and tired. I was so excited about having a drink when I got home and instead I crashed! Happily. My work was done and it was a fabulous day! Three more concerts to go! But then there is that nasty little four letter word that begins with S in the forecast for Saturday. That would truly set me in a crazy state. I am not even going to think about that.

Onward to our Schweinhaut concert tomorrow. I'm taking a nap!

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a-smilebox_160206873Despite the snow-induced cancellation of Encore's final two concerts of the holiday season, the nine Baltimore-Washington area chorales still managed to perform seven concerts in the first two weeks of December.  The largest and, by acclaim, the most successful performance was at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on December 16th.  Over two hundred singers spilled out in front of the stage, pushing the standing room only crowd far down the Center's main concourse.  It certainly had to be one of the Millennium Stage's largest performances, both in terms of number of performers and size of audience.  A grand time was had by all, suitable for this grand location.

Many thanks to Margo Hope, from the Schweinhaut Encore Chorale, for compiling a wonderful photo album of the event, as well as photos from the concert at the Schweinhaut Senior Center on the following Friday, December 18th.  View the photos by clicking here or on the photo on the left.

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80.celebrity_mercury_at_cabo_san_lucas_4I was looking out at the bay early, very early, this morning and it looked so gorgeous, but cold! The wind is howling here and the bay is confused. Big waves! a few days we will be cruising down this very bay on the Celebrity Cruise Ship Mercury and it looks like we will be doing our Bon Voyage departure in the snow. And the temps going south will take quite a while to warm up. But I am sure we will all be cozy, warm and delightfully happy on board. We will cruise right past our home! Larry said he will be flashing a light. Poor guy isn't going. He is trying to save lots of vacation hours so we can cruise for two weeks on our "Cantabile." That is the best vacation in the world. So he will stay home and keep the kitties fed and happy and keep Encore going.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy and musical New Year. I will be thinking of you down in the blue waters of the Bahamas, while you are up here shoveling the predicted snow. I have a great job!

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01_StMarysCampEncore conducted our First Annual (by acclamation) Choral Camp at St. Mary's College of Maryland , June 17-21, 2008.  It was a busy five days for the campers!  They were barely checked in to their rooms before it was time for the first of eight scheduled choral rehearsals.

Campers were treated to a Southern Barbecue reception and dinner on Tuesday evening, followed by an excellent concert by the West Shore Piano Trio.

After breakfast Wednesday morning, the campers got the "juices flowing" with a lively movement class, conducted by Tiffany Haughn. Campers called the movement class, held each morning at 9:00, one of the highlights of the week.  In four sessions, they were introduced to a variety of dance forms, including ballet, modern, jazz, mambo and rumba (with a special demonstration by rumba-dancer extraordinaire, camper Pat Baker).

Despite the intense daytime schedule, campers still had energy for evening events that included Movie Night, a two-piano recital by Hyeweon Lee and Lina Morita, and a Polynesian Buffet followed by a River Concert Series performance by the Chesapeake Orchestra, featuring Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #3, performed by Jon Nakamatsu.

All the week's hard work paid off with a rousing concert before on appreciative audience on Saturday afternoon.  At the end of the camp, there were lots of smiles and eager anticipation of next year!




View Camp Photo Albums - Three Parts

Click Here to View Part I

Click Here to View Part II

Click Here to View Part III

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happy_new_yearJudging by the daily news, most of us will be glad to put the year 2008 behind us and hope for a better 2009. However, for Encore, and me personally, 2008 has been a fabulous year. This year we launched two new Northern Virginia Chorales at the new Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton and the Potomac Academy of George Mason University, in residence at the Woodlands Retirement Community, and a new program - Dance/Movement - at the Workhouse and the Arlington Center for Dance.

Our summer camps at St. Mary's College of Maryland and the Chautauqua Institution exceeded my highest expectations. Wow! What a blast! The staffs at both locations were wonderful to work with - and what terrific groups of campers we had. I'm hoping to see a lot of you back for "the sequel" this coming summer!

And a round of thanks...Thanks to management and staff at all our locations for your outstanding support of Encore programs. You help make it all possible. Others who have helped make it all work this year, and for whom I am grateful: Colleen Nassetta, who helped with grant writing this summer. Jenny at Landover Press who is such a pleasure to work with and who finds our mistakes before they're printed and turns our orders around so quickly. My daughters, Tiffany and Heather, who have been helpful in a variety of ways, behind the scenes and "out front." And, of course, my husband, Larry, "accountant," "webmaster," "photographer," "PR man," and "jack of all trades."

And thanks to those of you who have made financial contributions to Encore. As a non-profit organization, Encore needs this kind of support to grow and improve our programs and it is appreciated.

And on to 2009...

I'm excited to have new repertoire to begin working on with the Chorales starting next week. It should lead to fun concerts this spring.

I welcome Jane Franklin, the newest member of our faculty, who will take over the Dance/Movement class at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. Jane has an impressive resume and I'm sure the Workhouse group will enjoy her.

Of course, I expect our summer camps to be bigger and better this year. Last year's campers provided a lot of suggestions on how we can improve and we're going to take a lot of those suggestions to heart in our planning for this year. One of particular note is that we will be sending out advance practice CDs to the campers so they can get a jump on learning the music. Several people suggested that last summer and we've even incorporated that into the Chorale program to help our singers practice between rehearsals.

Reservations for the Singing at Sea Cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2 from New York to Southhampton, England continue to come in. Now with Cunard Lines reducing prices (also, retroactively for those who already reserved) this has turned into a comparative bargain opportunity to sail aboard the world's greatest luxury liner. Is this going to be great, or what?

By September, we expect to have more locations to add to our "domain." It looks like we'll definitely be starting a Chorale at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland. In response to a lot of inquiries, we looking for space in Montgomery County and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We may also be expanding outward, with discussions ongoing to launch Encore in Connecticut and other "far away places." The word about how great our programs are seems to be spreading!

So, while 2008 was better than 2007, I have no doubt 2009 will continue the positive trend. And the beginning of 2009 is mere hours away now...

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