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Wow!  My last blog post post was December 16! Time flies! And how Encore has grown.  One thousand singers keeps us hopping big time.  This organization is packed with vibrant, inquisitive, and very talented singers and they deserve the best. 

Most of the Chorales and ROCKS choruses are in Week Eight.   The half-way point!   The music is, if I may say so, fabulous!!!  Not one complaint.  That is unbelievable. And the singers are sounding so great.  The excitement about DAR is building and it will be an incredible day.  I can’t wait!

75 Encore singers traveled to The Homestead Feb. 24 – 26 and had a blast.  We rehearsed, we laughed, we ate way too much, we partied, we stood in the hot springs, we did a flash mob of “You Make Me Feel So Young” at High Tea and we sang a great concert in the Commonwealth Room (photo on left).  It was a grand three days.   We are already making plans to return in late October, 2017.   More on that as I know it.

I am humbled and honored to see the tremendous support for the Jeanne Kelly Fund.  The most important thing to me is to keep Encore going forever.  This is a great beginning!

Planning for the summer Encore Choral Institutes at Washington College and Chautauqua is well underway.  These “sleep away camps” are always so much fun. It is a perfect vacation………..learning and performing challenging music, spending time in a beautiful location, meeting new friends and cherishing existing friends and feeding our soul with beautiful music.  It is pure joy!

Larry and I are off on a much needed vacation.   We will be cruising from Cologne to Basel.   Only a week but a week that I don’t have to think too much! laughing

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The Encore holiday concerts have been fabulous.  Audience members that have attended our concerts for years say this season is the best.   They love the choice of music.  And people who have never heard us perform are amazed at our sound and the great repertoire we sing.

It was music to my ears when a darling little five year old ran up to me and said  “I loved the concert!” with a big smile on his face.  And it is music to my ears every morning at 5am when my husband Larry,  who sings with DC ROCKS, wails away Bohemian Rhapsody and Jingle Bell Rock in the shower.

What a great way to start the day!!!!

It’s all good!

SING ON!

Jeanne

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I simply cannot believe it is December 2!   Where did fall go?  It seems like yesterday that we handed out the holiday music to all 1000 singers.  And tricky music it is!!   And I am so excited about beginning our Encore Holiday Concerts tomorrow, Dec. 3!   The singers are ready.   They are confident, courageous and eager to present these fabulous and free concerts within our communities across Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.  Nineteen concerts in all!   Encore keeps growing in numbers, strength and talent. 

And talk about excitement!  In January we start our Tenth Anniversary Celebration.  I remember sitting at our dining room table ten years ago, writing the mission statement. We have stayed true to that mission statement and our success has been extraordinary.  Encore is a great legacy.   Larry and I could not be happier.

The Encore office is all decorated for holidays!   We have a lovely tree – fake -  but lovely!  But we do have a fresh pine wreath, some poinsettia plants and lots of holiday spirit.   And soon we will have over 9,000 pieces of music in our office, ready to be made in to 1,000 packets for our singers for the spring semester.   We just might have to move the Christmas out!

The Encore Chorale singers and the ENCORE ROCKS singers all make Encore strong. Encore would not exist without you.  Happy Holidays to you all and I wish you fabulous concerts and many great memories.  See you at the concerts!!

SING ON!

 

Jeanne

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WOW!   It has been months since I have blogged!   The superb spring 2016 season has come and gone, a gorgeous Encore trip to the Italian and French Rivieras has come and gone, our fantastic 2016 summer camps have come and gone, the Osprey have come and gone and oh yes,  throw some surgery in there and nasty eye problems and voila……..we are into the fall season!  Oh my!!!  By the way, the Osprey behaved better this year than last!!!

 

Our fall 2016 Encore season has almost 1000 singers enjoying challenging and entertaining rehearsals.   The singers have written such lovely emails thanking our staff for all the work they do to make Encore such a huge success.  It is so gratifying to receive those notes. 

 

I have also received so many notes of thanks for the choice of holiday music.   I am always nervous about that.   I want to please everyone, but of course that is not possible.   But I will certainly continue to try.

 

The music for our spring season has to be spectacular because we will be celebrating our 10th Anniversary.   WOW!  On May 13th,  all our Encore Chorales and ENCORE ROCKS will be in concert at DAR Constitution Hall!   What a celebration that will be.  So save the date now!

 

Larry and I are leaving October 8, my 67th birthday, to sail the beautiful Chesapeake Bay for a week!   Ahhhhhhhhhh!   We will stop at Solomon’s Island, Tangier Island, Onancock, Cape Charles, and then head on up the bay.   There is nothing like 8 days on our beloved “Cantabile.”

But before I left, our fabulous Encore staff gave me a birthday party.   Five wonderful women full of energy, passion and stories!   I am a very lucky gal indeed!

 

SING ON!!!

 

Jeanne

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Jeane-Mary-ACDA.jpgThe start of our winter/spring semester has had its issues to say the least!   Our Monday and Tuesday singers had a lot of “snow days” and they have lost their spring break! Sounds like we are back in school. 

But I do think that the weather will now cooperate. I had a chat with the weather gods and they know how important our singing is to us. And I asked for sunshine for our Monday and Tuesday singers. It has been pretty dismal. At least our Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday singers have fared much better.  

Our brand new Executive Director, Mary Spencer, is really learning everything she possibly can about Encore. She has gone with me to some of the chorales and is really enjoying her position. We are lucky to have her.

Mary and I went to Boston (see photo) where I spoke at the American Choral Directors Conference on the topic of recharging, respecting and retaining our older adult singers. We had an exhibit table and met lots of folks who love our Encore program. No one else is doing what we do.  And there was a lot of brain dumping going on. We constantly talked Encore and all the possibilities this great organization can accomplish. Very exciting time!

 Our singers are enjoying the spring music. They are melodies that the audiences are going to love and go out of the concert hall humming. That is great for audience retention. And our singers love a full house to sing to.

I am close to the final choice for music at our Encore Chorale Institute at Washington College and also at Chautauqua. It will be very varied, very challenging, and very fun! I promise!

And………I just about have the Holiday music chosen. More classical selections! And some beautiful Rutter. I am going to ask the singers for their suggestions, so be thinking!

 As I was sitting this morning overlooking the Bay, I could see the rising sun is definitely moving north. And it is appearing much earlier and that means daylight savings time is near.   Ahhhhhhhhh – spring! The Osprey should be appearing in about three weeks. That is when I get excited. Just so they stay off our mast!!!!!

SING ON!

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It is December 29 and I am playing catch-up in the office.   I really meant to take a long winter nap after the marathon of 15 Encore Chorale concerts, but there is so much to be done before we start our spring semester January 11. Sleep can wait until I am very old! Too much to accomplish for Encore.

I thought the Encore Holiday Concerts were fabulous! The singing was excellent, the singers watched and had a great time performing,  the audience loved the repertoire, the guest artists Heather Haughn and Edna Huang were perfect and the audience loved everything about the concerts. By the time we got to the Kennedy Center concert, the singers were so confident. The hardest thing was the seating! But we got all 230 of you in there and you were magnificent! Jeff Dokken, Deb Intveldt and I loved every note you sang and many thanks to Nick Intvelt, our splendid accompanist. And to my daughter Heather, your violin playing was so beautiful. What an honor to share the stage with you all!  

Now it is on to spring. I pick up the remaining music tomorrow and then Jen and Sandi and I put together 970 packets of music. When our Encore singers perform those fabulous concerts, we get lots of calls. So we expect spring growth. Our singers make it happen and it is very exciting. It will be fun to sing Hoagy Carmichael, Rogers and Hart and Guys and Dolls.  The ENCORE ROCKS DC will be singing Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, Burnin Love, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Stairway to Heaven, Rock Around the Clock, Sh-Boom, and We Love the 50’s. Something for everyone. We just keep getting better and better.

I am really looking forward to our new location for the Capital Encore Chorale.   10th and G! You would not know it was the First Congregational Church. It looks like an office building. The space is fantastic. Towering ceilings in the sanctuary. Gorgeous piano! And the ENCORE ROCKS DC will rehearse upstairs in the community room which holds 130.   Encore was just gifted an incredible Baldwin L grand piano which we have placed in the community room. So we have fantastic space, excellent singers, two magnificent pianos and one great partner in the First Congregational UCC at 10th and G! Perfection!!!!

On January 25,  our new Executive Director Mary Spencer comes on board. She already has displayed a huge passion for Encore and our mission. She attended three holiday concerts and loved them all. Encore has a mighty staff,  conductors and singers. The sky is the limit!

On the funny side……..I had a massage yesterday and she said after about 10 minutes: What do you do for a living?  You have a lot muscle stuff going on! I laughed and said “if you waved your arms around for hours, played as much piano as I do, did crazy stuff to get all those singers to smile, and have a total blast, you too would have 'stuff going on,' too!”   But it is all worth it.   Completely!

SING ON!

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It was a cold morning on the Chesapeake Bay but when I arose very early, I looked out and saw a sailboat anchored off our community pier.   Wow!   They are really late in heading for the Caribbean. If they didn’t have heat on that boat, they were freezing!  They had a dog was sitting on the bow of the boat, looking very happy. At least he was warm.  You can always tell the boats that are heading south.  They have gas cans strapped on to their deck.   Lucky them!   I only dream of heading south on Cantabile.   Some day.

Our Encore Chorale Holiday Concerts began on Sunday with the very talented singers of Southern Maryland Encore Chorale and AACC Encore Chorale joining forces at Leonardtown Baptist Church for a big free community concert. Wonderful! And Dr. Krystal McCoy, who just gave birth to her second daughter Brenna Dorothy, was conducting.   The baby was just six days old on Sunday.   Now that’s dedication Krystal!   But she also went to their rehearsal this week, just two days after Brenna was born.   Krystal is serious about having her singers well -rehearsed!   Thank you Krystal!!!!!

All our Encore singers are very excited about the concerts.   The centerpiece of the concerts, The Musicological Journey of the 12 Days of Christmas, has come together beautifully.   The singers are really having fun with this piece.  

We have 250 singers performing together at the Kennedy Center on Dec. 23.   It takes us about one half hour just to get everyone settled on stage.   It is a glorious and crazy evening indeed!

Keep Singing!

Jeanne

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Krystal-cake.jpgA message from Dr. Krystal Rickard McCoy, Conductor of the Southern Maryland Encore Chorale

Thank you so much to Encore board members Ann McFarren and Ellen Leddy for making the trip to Southern Maryland on November 4th to host a surprise celebration. We enjoyed cake and apple cider, and rejoiced in the fact that Dr. Krystal never has to complain to the chorale about her dissertation committee again!

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Laurel Lake Encore Chorale in concert

We have just finished week four of Encore rehearsals and the singers love the repertoire and they are loving the challenge. I am impressed at how fast they are learning. But they are Encore singers! Of course they are great!

I want to brag about our Encore Affiliates.

The Greater Reading Encore Chorale has about 45 singers under the great direction of David Rutt. The Northeast Iowa School of Music has doubled in size to 25 under the direction of Sue Flogel. Laurel Lake Retirement Community in Hudson, OH under the excellent direction of Donna Anderson now boasts 80 singers! Mary Lou Prince has a small but happy group of singers in Salt Lake City.

Three new chorales have begun this fall. Brian Leatherman, conductor and Cynthia Runkel, accompanist, have started the Highlands Ranch Encore Chorale outside of Denver and they already have 75 wonderful singers!!!  Brian also conducts the new Holly Creek Encore Chorale outside of Denver. And Jim Ellfeldt, with the able assistance of Roberta Kessler, has started the Santa Clarita Encore Chorale outside of LA with over 25 singers. I am so proud of these conductors and their singers.  Combine those 281 singers with our local 950 singers and you have over 1,230 singers! Now, that's a great story. My hope is to some day get all our Encore singers together at a conference, singing and learning together.

Who would have thought nine years ago when I started Encore that we would enjoy so much success! Not me! But I sure am delighted!!!!

SING ON!!!

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September is almost gone. Now how on earth did that happen?! The last time I blogged was from Chautauqua. Our Encore Chorale Institute at Chautauqua was a huge success.    85 very happy and talented singers had a blast. They loved the challenge and beautiful surroundings. What a great week it was! Then I returned for two days of sailing and attending the Annapolis Symphony Quiet Waters Park Labor Day concert. Our talented daughter Heather Haughn plays in the violin section. Our grandsons, Lucas and Trevor, always love that concert. They go right up front and watch their Auntie Heather very carefully. We all bring food for a great picnic and we all wish summer was not coming to an end. And of course I had the opening of 17 Encore Chorales on my mind. So, on September 8, our chorales started in full swing. Our new chorales, Reston, Frederick and Columbia opened with excitement and our new ROCK n ROLL Chorus at the Smithsonian begins October 8. It is a sell-out with 114 singers! Holy Cow!! Our very energetic and talented Jeff Dokken will direct that chorus. Can’t wait for that one to start.

After a rained out September 21 NATS/Orioles game, 40 Smithsonian Encore members went back to NATS Park to sing the National Anthem on Sept. 24. They were terrific. As many of us were walking to our seats after singing, fans stopped the singers to tell them how great they were.   Nice!!

The grand total of Encore singers for fall 2015 is....drum roll please…ready?.....  941!  Onward and upward!

SING ON!!!

Jeanne

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I am sitting on the grand porch of the Athenaeum Hotel at Chautauqua, marveling at the beauty and peacefulness.  Such a gorgeous spot for our 8th annual Encore Choral Institute.  Everyone. Of our 85 singers is loving the Chautauqua/Encore experience. And the singers are sounding wonderful, after just three rehearsals.  And we have 15 baritones and basses.  WOW.  That is a mighty sound!

The weather has been lovely, even though a little warm.  The food is plentiful and delicious and the evening wine, soda, beer parties on the porch are great fun.

The evening concerts were a smash.  Maribeth and Bradford Gowen performed four hand two piano to the great delight of our singers and community guests.  They were really fantastic.  And last night Marlissa Hudson, soprano and yours truly - me at the piano,performed a recital. She brought the house down with her first number - Come Down Angels.  Beautiful voice and beautiful personality.  One of her offerings was Habanera from Carmen.  When we were rehearsing it I mentioned I had performed the role of Carmen.  She said " OK, you sing the second verse!"  So after not singing in public for many many years, I did last night and it was a ball! Nice to know I can still do it!!!!! Thanks Marlissa.

Columbia Encore Chorale opened on Monday with 18 singers.  it will grow.  Word of mouth works.
Reston Encore Chorale opened Tuesday with 35 singers. WOW!

Upward and onward.
SING ON!!!

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I am convinced we have the fattest hummingbird in the world right in our flower gardens.  It is gorgeous and so much fun to watch.  It is enjoying quite a feast and especially loves the Rose of Sharon. And we have four yellow finches that are putting on quite a show.  I wish the flowers were here year-round.   Hard to think about the “S” word right now!

The Encore office has been busy this summer.  No break.  We have been working hard on our four new programs for the fall.  We will be adding chorales in Reston, Columbia and Frederick and our new Rock n Roll Chorus at the Smithsonian already has 55 singers signed up and registration does not close until the first week of October!  WOW!  Jeff Dokken is directing this chorus.   That’s his thing!

We have hired four new conductors.   Deborah IntVeldt will take the Encore Chorale of Frederick, David Allen will lead the Landsdowne Woods Encore Chorale and David Lang with conduct the Reston Encore Chorale.   Allen Laino, a newly minted doctorate in conducting from University of Maryland will co-conduct the Langston Encore Chorale and the Schweinhaut Encore Chorale with me and be available to substitute conduct.  He will open the College Park Encore Chorale in January 2016.   Truly wonderful additions to our conducting staff.

I just received word from our 5280+Encore Chorale outside of Denver that they had 44 singers at their Open House.   SUCCESS!

I brought over 5000 pieces of music into our home on Monday!  WOW!  That is a lot of music.   I am always nervous about the choices that are made, but Matthew Curtis who is making our rehearsal CDs called to say he thought our music was fabulous.   So I am hoping the singers think so too.

Not a lot of sailing for us this summer……….it has been the kidney stone summer!   Poor Larry! Surgery, infection, a lot of pain……..YUK!   And he is not done!   They will try and blast another big stone on Tuesday.

Finally, Encore welcomes an addition to our administration staff.  Sandi Ranck has joined Jennifer and me and she is delightful and talented.   We are growing!!!

We will be singing soon!  But first we are off to Chautauqua for our Encore Chorale Institute.   We have 85 great singers signed up and the repertoire is fabulous!   Should be a challenging and fun week. And I must say I look forward to riding the ENCORE Chautauqua EXPRESS BUS with 40 singers on board!

See you all in September!!

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Well, the Osprey are back and alas they have found their perfect perch……..the top of our sailboat mast.   Again!   I have come up with a name for that *%# Osprey.   I am calling him or her “TOPPER.”  Appropriate wouldn’t you say.   He/she looks so content up there.   He has a magnificent view of his/her domain.   Yes, Topper is a very happy Osprey.  I don’t want to even imagine what our deck looks like!

Spring on the Chesapeake Bay is such a glorious wonder.   And there is something different to look at every day.  I love seeing all the charter fishing boats going out at 6am sharp, and I love watching the Osprey carry their sticks across the water to build their nest.   Their building skills are incredible. There are more cruise ships plying the Bay and the Wednesday night sail races have begun. All the perennials are coming up.   Soon our gardens will be so beautiful.  Yes, spring on the Chesapeake Bay is my favorite.

Our Encore Chorale “Best of Broadway” concerts have begun.   Lansdowne Woods (formerly Leisure World) Encore Chorale performed the first concert on April 22 under the superb direction of Jeff Dokken and it was performed to standing room only.   A very good start indeed.  Next up is the Southern Maryland Encore Chorale concert on Sunday, May 3 where they will be joined by about 30 AACC Encore Chorale singers.   Krystal McCoy will be conducting. All the chorales sound fabulous and the repertoire has been so much fun to rehearse.   The audience can go out humming these great tunes.   They love that.  

I am busy choosing music for Chautauqua and the 2015 Holiday Season concerts.   It is always a monumental job for me to choose music that will be educational, challenging, fun and enjoyable for the audience.   That is the hardest part of my job.   I have music stacked everywhere!   But soon the piles of music will dwindle down to a stack of about 12 pieces of which I will choose about 8 selections.   Eight absolutely fabulous pieces of music!  I always feel badly for the ones that get left out.   But there will be many many more concerts!

SING ON!

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It is March and that means March Madness -  basketball basketball basketball!   The BIG DANCE!  Actually a friend of mine coined that phrase!

GO GREEN GO WHITE!  Yes, I am a Michigan State fan by way of marriage.   Larry is a grad.   We are really crazy right now.   You should have heard us hootin and hollarin last night at the end of that game with OK.   GEEZ!  That was a cliff hanger.

But it is also March Madness on the Chesapeake Bay. The Big Dance.   The osprey are back jockeying for their nest positions,  but most come back to the same nests year after year, except when the Coast Guard clears them because of navigational concerns.  All types of water fowl are migrating,  and sailors and power boaters are moving their boats from being “on the hard” to slips around the bay.   Cruise ships are making way down the Bay.  Flowers are appearing and the smell of mulch permeates the air.   Ahhhhh,  tis spring but……….I sure wish it wasn’t 32 degrees and blowing 17 mph!!    ENOUGH!   Bring me some warmth and sun would be good also. 

And spring means that Encore is not far from our spring concerts in May.  And they are going to be fabulous!   The music is so much fun.   We have had such great rehearsals with a lot of humor………except when some of us weep through Les Miserables.  

I can’t wait for these concerts!

Speaking of our music……..Cole Porter -  Let’s Do it!   I actually saw turkey vultures do it just about in my front yard.   Another thing to make me laugh when we sing that song. LOL

I never understood cataracts.  Until I got one.   People who have vitrectomy surgery as I did this past fall almost always get a cataract.   So I did.   My left eye is simply not seeing.   Surgery in April.  Now I have a lot of sympathy for the singers that come up and tell they can’t see because of cataracts and bright lights.  I guess we are all in this aging thing together.   So if I play some wrong notes right now,  you will understand why.  yell

Sing On!!!

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I am going stir crazy!   Another day of cancelled Encore rehearsals.   ARGH!    But we will be ready for our concerts.   I am sure of that.   Everyone loves the repertoire and all the singers will work hard to give fabulous performances.

I am also lost!  Every morning I get up and look at the huge American flag flying at the marina up the creek.   It allows me to know which way the wind is blowing.   Because of the severe weather,  they decided to take it down.   So I am looking at the sea grasses in the marsh to give me wind direction.

I need sunglasses in my living room, dining room and kitchen area.   With the sun bouncing off the bay which is covered with lots of snow, it is super bright!   The bay is 80% frozen. BUT……..it is supposed to get into the 50’s soon and hopefully within two weeks, we will see water and maybe even the fishing fleet going out into the Bay.   Right now, all we see is the heron and geese flying overhead.  Last weekend we got a real treat.   We have huge otters that play in the water in front of our house.   Boy, are they confused.   No water to play in.  So one was sliding across the ice.   It was so fun to watch.  

The winner for the most cancelled rehearsals…………..drums rolling please…………..Washington Conservatory of Music at Glen Echo!   They have missed three in a row.  But luckily I always scheduled in three extra weeks for the winter/spring semester.   We are safe!  But, they do lose spring break.  Sorry kids!

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Hola!

b2ap3_thumbnail_Encore-singing-in-airport.jpgOn January 3, 20 Encore travelers departed for Cuba on a People to People Bridge Between Cultures trip  and it was indeed a trip of a lifetime. Grand Circle Foundation did an extraordinary job in planning this journey for us.

Our exchange started with a candid discussion on urban development in Havana led by Pedro Vazquez, an architect and urban planner. It was very evident that the Cuban people are very excited about the positive change in our governments. And this remained evident everywhere we traveled in Cuba. We shared a visit at a senior center where we delighted them with our singing and they sang for us. Smiles all around.

A great Cuban lunch followed a visit to a handcrafts market.  We embarked on a neighborhood walking tour through the beautiful streets and squares of Old Havana. The evening entertainment was at Muraleandro, a community arts project of colorful murals and various forms of street arts.  We met with local artists to view their works and enjoy their performances. And of course we performed for them to wild applause!

The next day started with a lively discussion on U.S./Cuban relations led by a pair of Havana residents.  They shared their views on the possibilities of the 60- year- stand-off coming to an end.   Then we hopped aboard local transportation –bicycle cabs – to travel to the local market to meet vendors and buy some produce to give to the day-care facility we would be visiting next.  After lunch, we enjoyed Havana’s historic La Cabana, an 18th. Century fortress complex near the entrance to the Bay of Havana. Then some visited the Fine Arts Museum and some of us became part of the Epiphany Parade through Old Havana!   Talk about loud and crazy!   And Cuba Television caught some Encore members on film for TV across Cuba later that evening!! They knew we were Americans and they loved it.

That evening we visited a public art project in Jaimanitas, a village where Cuban artist and sculptor Jose Fuster decorated more than 80 homes with Gaudi-inspired murals and domes.  We met with Jose, had dinner with artists, and, of course, sang!

The next day we drove to the southern coastal city of Cienfuegos, a UNESCO Site.  We enjoyed a spectacular performance by the Cantores de Cienfuegos  and then we performed for them.   A truly unforgettable moment of our trip!   A real artist to artist experience!

We celebrated our good fortune with a fabulous dinner at the private paladares, Villa Lagarto.

The next morning offered an interesting discussion with writers, artists and musicians of the Union of Writers and Artists in Cuba (UNEAC). We visited the studios of artists and heard about the challenges in earning a living through their art and craft.  That afternoon we were entertained by elementary school children in lively song and dance, and after dinner, headed back to UNEAC to hear a great “Son” band performing Cuban classics. Our Encore singers certainly can dance!  The community came out for this evening and mingled easily and happily with Encore.

We left for Trinidad, a 500 year old colonial city, stopping for a visit to Cuba’s largest Botanical Park. Upon arriving in Trinidad, we visited small basket weaving and pottery-making operations. That evening we enjoyed a scrumptious dinner at  a private paladar in a former colonial mansion.

The next day brought a tour of a sugarcane plantation in the Valle de los Ingenios, a UNESCO Site. About 30,000 slaves were brought to Trinidad to work on the sugarcane plantations. We enjoyed a folkloric group demonstrating Afro-Cuban dance and music and we joined in on the dance. We also visited a family in Trinidad and enjoyed fruit from their stand.

The next morning we drove out to the Sierra Del Escambray mountain range to visit a small plantation and meet with the owners in their home.  A very lively discussion indeed and, of course, we sang!   They loved us!

On our way back to Havana, we stopped at a fishing village Cojimar and enjoyed lunch and conversation with fisherman.   We visited Hemingways’ home Finca La Vigia, where he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and The Sea.  And learned our very own Encore singer on the trip, Gay Gelhorn, was the niece of Hemmingway’s wife Martha and it was this house where they lived. Incredible moment to have Gay toll the Hemmingway bell into the home.

A speaker from the Ludwig Foundation – a private non-profit organization created to promote Cuban culture – spoke to use about the role of dance in Cuba and enjoyed a fabulous performance by the Malpaso, one of Cuba’s first private dance companies.   They will be performing at The Dance Place in DC in March and many of us will be attending. They were amazing.  We also toured the historic Colon Cemetery, awash in white marble with elaborate memorials to Cuba’s past. 

Our last evening in Cuba featured dinner at Starbien, a renovated colonial mansion.  It was a great time to toast our fabulous experience and bid farewell to Cuba.   We all said we wanted to return soon.   And then our superb tour guide Miagros (Mily) surprised us with a string of 1950’s automobiles – all convertibles in hot pinks, oranges, etc, - just waiting to take us back to our grand hotel, the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.   What a great ending to an unforgettable journey

Photos of the trip will be available on our Gallery page over the next several weeks - check back to view the highlights of our trip!

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I sure am sorry I am no longer on   “TIC” time………..”This is Cuba” time.  Cuba was an amazing country to visit.  Twenty very fortunate Encore folks had a fabulous visit to a fabulous country.  It indeed was a people to people exchange.  We met with seniors at a senior center in Havana and sang for them, we sang for two-four year olds at a school run by wonderful and energetic nuns, we sang for the owners of a coffee plantation high up in the Sierra del Escambray Mountains, and we sang for the incredible Cantores de Cienfuegos!!!  We had lunch with fisherman in the fishing village of Cojimar.  We had lively chats with Cubans about their past and their future.  They are so very happy the relations with the US are finally mending. They were so welcoming to us.  We saw so much and we were lucky to see Cuba without the Starbucks and MacDonald’s that will probably be popping up in the future.  I surely hope that isn’t so.    

I am already thinking about our next trip back. 

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Twas the day before Christmas and Jeanne is snuggled in her bed for a long winter’s nap.   WOW.  The holiday concert season came to an end last night with a smashing performance of 270 singers at the Kennedy Center.   It was a spectacular evening for Encore.   We looked so classy and sounded so good.   When the final chord sounded,   I was drained.  Totally.   I had given my all.   And all I wanted was a hug from my husband and a glass of wine!   I got it.

I have the best job in the world.  I work daily with supportive, caring and talented singers.   It is a wonderful community of friends. We all have a common goal…… to make the world better through music.   And we do that so well.   All of the holiday concerts have been performed to packed and loving audiences.  We make a lot of people happy.

I do indeed have a lot to be grateful for this holiday season.   My singers, my conductors, Affiliates,  Jennifer Heinz- my superb assistant,  Encore partnerships, sponsors, donors, and my hard-working board of directors.   But it is my family……my daughters Heather and Tiffany, son-in-law Mike, my adorable grandsons Lucas and Trevor  and last but not least,  my husband Larry.  He tirelessly works to make Encore succeed and look great.   All the pictures he takes and all the videos he shoots and the countless hours of putting them on the web site.  We both had a vision for Encore and to see it working so beautifully is truly a gift.  

Happy Holidays everyone!  

And now……..that long needed nap!!

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It is funny how this aging thing really starts smacking you in the face.   First, as I mentioned in my blog two weeks ago, I was offered a chair to vote.   Then yesterday I went in for a facial (long overdue) and she immediate said she would do the anti-aging facial.   At first I was annoyed, and then I inwardly laughed because I thought it was a little late.

Then today I was at the food market and I has just put my cart back and a store clerk ran after me and told me I left my cane in the cart.

Oh dear!

I told him he had the wrong white-haired lady………………

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Turning 65 has been interesting.   First, the unexpected eye surgery.

Then, really feeling old when I went to vote.

I went in to vote and was greeted by a gentleman who was about 75 years old.

He looked at me and told me he would give me a chair to vote!   Go figure……………………

What is it with white hair!

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