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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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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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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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Is spring really here……finally??  Our beloved Cantabile is in the water.  She still needs to be thoroughly scrubbed and the sails put on.  And I need to find time to clean and polish all of the beautiful wood in the cabin.  Maybe this Saturday.  I can’t wait to get her out on the water with her new electronics.  Very spiffy indeed. While working on the boat, Larry took an early swim this past Saturday.  He fell off the pier.  Talk about excitement!  Life is never dull.  Never! 

The yard work is keeping us busy.  I don’t even want to count all the rose bushes we have and they certainly took a hit this winter.   Just taking care of the yard and the boat is a full time gig.

And I have a more than a full time gig with our spring concerts coming up!!   These concerts are going to be so exciting because the singers are fabulous and so is the repertoire.   Everyone is having a blast.   And we are definitely stepping out on a ledge with “Ronnie” and we sure are surprising ourselves. As Gene Cohen would say, if not now……when!!!!

I have written my commencement speech.  It was not easy.  Actually it was downright scary.   I graduated from the University of Findlay 43 years ago.   The world is a very different place.  But there are definitely things that remain the same.    I hope I have captured some very basic ideas they can run with. Uncharted territory always makes me a little jittery and delivering a commencement speech is definitely uncharted territory. Never fear, I have my college freshman beanie and lots of wonderful advice from many of my 660 singers to get me through. 

The music for our Encore Institute at Washington College has been chosen and ordered.   That is always such a difficult task, but I think our singers will enjoy the repertoire. 

And then there is the Danube River cruise coming up soon.   How on earth do I pack so much into so little time. Once we have performed the first spring concert which is this Sunday at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater and when I have delivered my commencement speech,  I can start to relax and look forward to the Danube.  

We entertained the whole family this past Easter.    I have no idea how I raised two daughters, but somehow I did.  I guess age has something to do with it.  Our little grandsons go a mile a minute.  Talk about energy!

I have a funny story about Lucas.   We were at the National Harbor to watch the water fountain show.   The boys adore that.   So when Lucas climbed up on the ledge of the pool, I put my hand on his pants.  He turned and said  “Gigum, please keep your hands to yourself!”   Guess he learned that in nursery school!!!

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Well, this winter is something else.   I have never seen ice last this long on the creeks.  We have had ice for weeks.   And now we are expecting more snow.   But I can tell you that the bay is stunning in snow.   Nothing like it.

Right now we have at least a thousand sea gulls perched out on an ice shelf and they look like they are having a great party.   The cold doesn’t seem to bother them.  It certainly has been bothering me!

Our rehearsals have been going so well.   Everyone loves the repertoire.   Now if I could just play with all ten fingers.   Seems that I slammed my little left pinky with my car door and now I am playing with nine fingers. Ouch.

Looks like we will have 96 cruising with us on the Danube River.   Amazing.   We will be doing three concerts on the journey…..one in Vienna, one in Prague and one at the gorgeous Melk Abbey.  Aren’t we something!

 Time to push back from the computer.   It is 6pm -  time for a good glass of wine…….

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It is so cold that the heron looks like he is stuck in the ice!   And it is so windy that the water is having a difficult time freezing.

I am so glad I didn’t have to go out today.  Smithsonian and others missed their rehearsal today, as did the chorales of Potomac and Langston yesterday. 
But I always figure in extra weeks of rehearsals to accommodate for snow days, just like when we were in school.  So……we are covered!

The “spring” (ha ha) rehearsals got off to a great start last week.   I think everyone loves the music we have chosen.  I always get very nervous at the beginning of every 15 week session, wondering if the singers are going to like what we have come up with.  But who would not love Porgy and Bess and Rogers and Hart?  They just don’t write music like that anymore.

The snow days have given me the opportunity to think about “camp” music.   Coming up with some great stuff.  So get yourself registered for the camps.   I can promise you a great time!

No more snow!

 

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Jeanne BlogIt’s the last day of 2013 and it is a gorgeous cold, brilliantly clear and windy day on the bay.  The heron looks cold!  And the buffleheads continue to put on their entertaining show.  Guess they are sticking around for the winter.

Jen and I spent the morning getting donor contribution thank you letters out.  I am so very very grateful to all who responded.  Our singers have definitely shown that they value what Encore delivers.  Every day in the month of December Larry and I would sit by the Christmas tree and open the envelopes.  What fun!  And then the fabulous concerts gave joy to so many people.  It was truly a fantastic holiday season.  I have yet to watch the Kennedy Center concert, but I sure have received many emails saying how dazzling it was.  

After we got the letters finished, we packed up boxes and boxes of music for the spring season.   I am so excited about this music.   From Verdi toThe Four Seasons!   And I am not talking about Vivaldi.   We will have a blast with “Ronnie.”   And Phantom!

Larry and I will be babysitting our grandsons Lucas and Trevor while their parents enjoy a well-deserved overnight out.  Trevor just learned to walk yesterday so we will definitely be running all night!

I wish you all a very Happy New Year!   Sing ON!

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When I think about the month of December, it tends to become a blur.  Twelve concerts, all with different components.  Five of these concerts were huge.  They all went extremely well.  We attracted large and appreciative audiences and also attracted some new Encore singers.  People ask how we get our singers and it is simply word of mouth and our fabulous concerts.  Folks see us having lots of fun and paying back to the community and who wouldn’t want to be involved in that effort.  We do it because we love it.  There is nothing like being in the middle of a chorus and singing your heart out.  I must say I am looking forward to sitting in the middle of some Encore Chorale some day and singing my heart out.  That is why I am so very very grateful to those that have most generously donated to our annual fund raising campaign.  Encore needs to go on forever so that our grandchildren and their children will be able to enjoy singing in later years.  It was so much fun to see grandchildren rush up to the stage to sing Jingle Bells and ring bells at some of our concerts. Everyone was so happy.  What more could we ask for. It’s still not too late to donate!

Christmas was magical with the grandsons Lucas and Trevor.  Lucas’s favorite gift was “laser fingers” and they cost $4.00.  Smile  Doesn’t take much.  Trevor is happy with anything but particularly loved doing his “Pizza Dance” for all of us.   When you ask him to do his pizza dance (he loves pizza!)  he bobs his head back and forth and looks so darn cute with that smile of his.  I could watch them both all day!

And here Jen and I are, working the day after Christmas!  Lots to do for the spring semester!  Gotta get crackin'……………   We have about 5,500 pieces of music to get into bundles for the singers.  Plus the camp brochures, etc.   Encore never stops!

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Eleven down, one to go………the biggest concert of them all – the Kennedy Center. Tonight we will have 250 singers on stage, loving every note and every second.  It is always a very exciting evening because there are thousands of people coming to sing the Messiah Sing along with the National Symphony.  So as they are waiting to go into the concert hall, they listen to us.  Huge!!!!!

All the concerts have been incredible.  The singers have been professional and they sound fabulous.  I couldn’t ask for more. 

It is winter…..but……it is 68 outside.  The boat was pulled out of the water on Friday.  She is now lying in her cradle in the boat yard not far from our home.  I went over to see her on Saturday.  Cantabile is lonely.  She loves to romp the bay.  Only three more months, Cantabile!

I know it is Christmas on the bay when I see Christmas lights on the masts of sailboats on the creek.  And across the creek at Town Point, someone has placed an outline of a Christmas tree on the end of the dock and it is adorned with white lights.  I love it.  So peaceful to look at.  

But the best thing about the season is the music.  There is nothing like Christmas carols sung classically.  I am sure Larry and I will sit at the piano Christmas Eve and sing sing sing.  

Sing On!

Merry Merry Christmas!

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Virigina Chorale Concert Dec 15 2013The Holiday concerts are rolling along, some in intimate settings as in Southern Maryland, and some enormous as in the Virginia Encore Chorale concert at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington.  They all are truly wonderful.  I am so proud of these singers.  I never ever dreamed that Encore would become this magical place where older adults can be so expressive and sing so well and give back to their community through song.  It is truly fabulous.  I can’t tell you how many emails and notes I receive from singers and audience members.  I save them all.

Well, it has happened to me.  I never understood what singers were talking about when they said they had “floaters” and couldn’t see to sing.  Now I do.  Just like the snap of your fingers, I got floaters.  Amazing and scary.  My vision is really diminished.  Off to retina specialist yesterday, missing the final rehearsal for AACC which was very capably taken by singer Sue Perry.  No retina tear but I am prime for one.  Geez!  This aging thing……………  But don’t worry,  I just about know the music by memory. Wink   Singers still have to watch me like a hawk.  I know everything that is going on.  Everything!

In the next six days, we have five more concerts.  And this morning I have a huge concert…………………..my gorgeous little three year old grandson Lucas is singing in his pre-school holiday concert.  Oh boy, I can’t wait!  He loves to sing.  Where did he get that?

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TrevorThanksgiving went fast. On the big day, the grandparents and our gorgeous grandsons Lucas and Trevor all gathered for dinner.  I can’t get enough of those children.  

Friday we met Tiff and Mike and the little guys at National Harbor. Lucas absolutely goes nuts over the water fountain show at the Gaylord Hotel.  And not only did they have the fabulous fountain show with lights and music, but then they released lots of snow.  It was magical.

Saturday was Trevor’s (photo) first birthday so we all met again, ate some more and watched Trevor and Lucas have a ball.  I can’t believe one year has passed so quickly. 

Today was a sad day for Larry and me.  We took the sails off our beloved “Cantabile.”  It’s time.  There is a thin coating of ice on the cove and winter brings huge low tides when there is a northern or north/west wind.  I know our keel was on the bottom of the bay this past week.  Yes, it’s time.  Winter is officially here.  But the bright side of things is that she will go back in the water April 1.  Only four months…..long months.  But she “sleeps” in the boat yard next to our home, so I occasionally drive over there and pat her on her hull and tell her how much I miss her. 

Oh yes, we also spent a lot of time this weekend getting out all the annual fund-raising letter to our singers, our biggest donors.  660 letters are going out.  Here is hoping!!

This week we start presenting our fabulous Fa La La Fantasy concerts.  Very exciting time indeed.  Our first concert in Thursday at the beautiful Gordon Center in Owings Mills, MD with the AACC Encore Chorale, Myerberg Encore Chorale and the Reading Affiliate Encore Chorale.  Then on Friday we are at Asbury Methodist Village  Retirement Community.  I know the singers are ready!!

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I always read Petula Dvorak’s column in the Post and I was simply amazed at her column this am about the football coach from Annandale High School who kicked the Annandale Marching Band off the field during their half time show so that his football players could come on early and warm-up. I am sure the thought never crossed his mind that his football players probably will not play football past the age of 21 and most of those dedicated musicians will make great music for their entire life!   So I wrote a letter to the editor!

The sunrise was breathtaking this morning.   I just stand and watch the sky change, second by second.  I love my mornings……just me, my cats Spencer and Spicy, my coffee and my Post.   The calm before the storm……………

Rehearsals are in high gear, and I become very pushy!   Watch me……watch me…….watch me is my cry!!!   But boy does that work.   The singers will be ready.   The music for this season is not extremely difficult but the precision is the key factor.   It has got to be sharp and precise and singers have to watch.   And then there is the “look like what you are singing” factor.   So there is a lot to think about!   I have no doubt our singers will wow their audiences.

I was so very pleased to receive a call from the Education and Outreach person at the Cathedral Choral Society.  She said the Choral Society loves what Encore is accomplishing and they would like to present us in concert next year at the National Cathedral.  WOW!   What an incredible invitation.   

Two weeks ago we announced in our e-newsletter that we were offering a trip to Cuba in January, 2015.   Well,  that trip with twenty singers is FULL!   So we are opening up another Cuba trip.   Proof that our singers love to travel and sing.  The trip will include dancing, singing and art in Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad.   And we will be singing!

Late October I lost a dear friend, tenor George Lane.  George and I sat on the porch of the Athenaeum Hotel the last two years at camp,  talking about life and the beauty around us.   George sang up to two weeks before his death. Singing was in his soul.   He loved singing with Encore at Asbury Methodist and he loved singing at Chautauqua. I will dearly miss him.

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