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  • Happy New Year!

    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...

  • AUUC Holiday Concert 2008

    Chorales Combine for Outstanding Concert at Arlington Unitarian Universalist Church

    The Chorales of the Goodwin Houses, Langston Brown, Potomac Academy, Lorton Arts Center, and the Smithsonian joined forces to produce over 110 singers for the Holiday Concert at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, December 15th. Also featured on the program were the Polymnia Bells, Melodie Feather, Director; soprano soloist, Jean Kellogg; and trumpet soloist Paul Nelson. View photo slideshow by clicking on the picture below, then advance by clicking on the right side of each picture.

  • Holiday Concert 2008 Report

    Combined Chorales Holiday Concerts Draw Big Audiences

    (CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE VIDEO OF KENNEDY CENTER CONCERT)

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    Kennedy Center Holiday Concert 2008The combined Encore Chorale presented two wonderful and very entertaining holiday concerts on December 15th at the Arlington Unitarian Universalist Church and on December 16th on the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Seven Encore Chorales with over 220 singers combined to perform before overflowing and enthusiastic audiences.  They were joined by the Polymnia Bells, directed by Melodie Feather, Jean Keister Kellogg, soprano and Paul Nelson, trumpet.

    The concert began with their signature holiday piece It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Eddie Pola and George Wyle.   They have opened every holiday concert with this selection since 2001.   Many singers sang without looking at the scores, smiling and truly enjoying the moment.  The next piece, Sing We Now of Christmas, the singers were joined by the Polymnia Bells and soprano, Jean Keister Kellogg.   The tempo was brisk and the entrances and cutoffs were sharp.  Ms. Kellogg’s crystal clear voice soared above the chorale.  Ms. Kellogg  sang the lovely, gentle melody in Bless All the Children by Gustav Holst and Christina Rossetti and the choir beautifully complemented Ms. Kellogg’s warm, rich and expressive singing.   One of the most beautiful moments in the concert was the stunning performance of Like the Snow, written by Vicki Tucker Courtney.  The singers truly loved singing this piece, spinning out expressive phrases and singing with precise diction and gorgeous tone.  The audience showed its appreciation.  The tempo picked up with Gaudeamus Hodie which translates to "Let Us Rejoice Today."  This is a festive piece, although in a minor key and the singers sang it with conviction.  By the end, they were truly rejoicing. 

    The bells continued the concert with their sweet and angelic playing of Christmas Jubilation, written by Dan Edwards, ringing in the sounds of the season.  The ringers ranged in age from a seventh grader to adults.  They were a real joy to watch and hear.

    The Encore Chorale continued with the well known Christmas Waltz by Julu Stein.  The beautifully arched phrasing made for the perfect waltz feeling.  The smiles on their faces said it all.   They were having the time of their life on stage……..all 220 of them, ages 55 to 97. 

    The bells continued with a rousing and crowd pleasing On This Day Earth Shall Ring by Cathy Moklebust.   The energetic and driving drum solo set the mood.  A big applause!

    Happy Hanukkah, written by Carol Boyd Leon of Fairfax, VA was rhythmic and melodious and a real joy to sing, especially with the composer in the audience.

    The singers were joined by Paul Nelson on the trumpet.  The trumpet obligato gaily complemented the vocal line and it was a true delight.  After the piece ended, Ms. Boyd Leon came up to acknowledge the applause and the chorale.   She was most pleased with the performance.

    The concert kept building with the jubilant singing of Variations on Jingle Bells by John Pierpont, arranged by Mark Hayes.  The singers were joined by the bells and Ms. Kellogg. The piece starts off with a “Barbara Streisand” singing of Jingle Bells, certainly not the Jingle Bells everyone knows, and the singers sang it with incredible energy and precision at a breakneck tempo. The piece has a waltz section, a great jazz variation, and then comes the masterpiece, the classical variation.  Ms. Kellogg joined the singers for this variation, incorporating fabulous and precise coloratura singing.   Her final cadence of this movement offered coloratura passages from Magic Flute and the Messiah.   It was a complete hoot!   The audience broke into applause and bravos, but the piece went on!  The finale of the piece offers another Barbara Streisand variation with singers driving the rhythm, the bells ringing wildly and the soprano singing with fabulous high tones.  It ended with a rousing eleventh chord, everyone giving it their all.   The audience went wild and the singers accomplished a very difficult piece with finesse and great stage presence.  It was a huge success.

     

    The combined concerts were two of a total of six performances by  various combinations of the seven chorales.  The complete schedule, as well as links to photo slideshows of the various concerts is below. Also, don't miss the COMPLETE VIDEO PRESENTATION OF THE KENNEDY CENTER CONCERT!

     

     

    Date Location Performance By
    December 2
    Goodwin Houses and Langston-Brown Chorales
    December 9
    Goodwin House Alexandria (for residents only)
    Goodwin Houses and Langston Brown Chorales
    December 11
    Myerberg Chorale
    December 13
    Smithsonian Chorale
    December 15
    Langston-Brown, Smithsonian, Lorton, Potomac Academy and Myerberg Chorales
    December 16
    All Chorales
  • VIDEO OF KENNEDY CENTER PERFORMANCE DECEMBER 16, 2008