New Header Banner 2017b


  • Meet the GHA Singers

    {igallery 1}
  • Meet the GHBC Singers

    {igallery 2}

  • Meet Some of the Langston Brown Singers

    {igallery 3}
  • Meet the Myerberg Singers

    {igallery 4}
  • We Have a Snow Day!

    jeanne_snow_mar_02_2009Well boys and girls, we have a snow day! For those outside of the DC/Baltimore area reading this blog, we had snow yesterday. Lots of beautiful snow. I live on the Chesapeake Bay and we got around 9 inches. So needless to say, we were in all day yesterday, and then around 4pm we ventured out to start digging our way to freedom. I quickly realized that many were not going to be digging out until today, and with the temperatures not going above 30, there was not going to be a lot of melting. So I decided to make the decision to declare a snow day for Tuesday, also. I almost broke my neck walking down the lane to get the Washington Post this morning. Treacherous out there if you live in the suburbs, back streets or the "sticks". So today is a catch up day, dealing with camp details, spring concert details, music research, etc. And I just might catch a nap. Boy, wouldn't that be unusual. But I am not allowed to nap until I finish this blog.

    A new part of Encore unfolded last week at the Encore Chorale of Myerberg Senior Center. We have many many more women than men, and currently we have two men out, one in Florida for a month and one out taking care of an ill family member. So we are really low on men. I gave the women a three part score of Someone to Watch Over Me, words by Ira Gershwin and music by George Gershwin. They loved it and sounded absolutely divine. I promised I would find more music for them. So..........Encore now has a Women's Chorus. Since all of our chorales have more women than men, I am sure more Women's Choruses will be started. But there is a fabulous group of 13 men at the Smithsonian Encore Chorale and if we combine all of the men from the seven chorales, we could do a very neat men's chorus........maybe a great Gilbert and Sullivan chorus. Wouldn't that be fun!

    And speak of unfolding.......... Encore will be expanding..............into Ohio! Last week we received word that Laurel Lake Retirement Community out of Hudson, Ohio will be joining Encore as an Affiliate chorus. Their conductor, Donna Anderson, has over 50 talented and dedicated singers in the Laurel Lake Chorale. And Encore is very excited. And there will be an Affiliate Encore Chorale up in the Waterbury area of Connecticut next fall, headed up by a husband/wife team Katia and Pier Giorgio DeLucia. They just moved to the US from Brazil. I taught Katia voice at the Levine School of Music and then at Catholic University in DC. Her husband is a fabulous pianist and conductor. They will make a great team. Encore is definitely moving forward with our mission of providing exceptional arts education and performance opportunities for older adults.

    News flash: Encore will be live with a newly redesigned web site very soon! And it is spiffy!

    That's it for now. I need that nap!

  • Music is Important!

    jk_portrait_v2My daughter Heather, a professional violinist, sent this incredible essay to me.   Then I received it from some of my Encore singers.  As I work daily with my singers, I am constantly reminded that our music helps us all survive. It is a necessity, like brushing teeth or eating.   I can go into a rehearsal and have someone tell me how much they are hurting and after we have sung our hearts out, they tell me how wonderfully uplifted they feel, even though their aches are still there.   Before we perform, I always say sing every single note like there is no tomorrow.  And boy do they!!

    This essay by Karl Paulnack, the Music Department head at Boston Conservatory is based on his speech to incoming freshmen:

    One of my parents' deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn't be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still remember my mother's remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school-she said, "you're WASTING your SAT scores." On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they LOVED music, they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren't really clear about its function. So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the "arts and entertainment" section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it's the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.

    The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient Greeks.  And this is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisble, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.

    One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940. Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940, sent across Germany in a cattle car and imprisoned in a concentration camp.

    He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose. There were three other musicians in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist, and Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941 for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp. Today it is one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.

    Given what we have since learned about life in the concentration camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture-why would anyone bother with music? And yet-from the camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn't just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, "I am alive, and my life has meaning."

    On September 12, 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan. That morning I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn't this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost.

    And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again. And then I observed how we got through the day.  At least in my neighborhood, we didn't shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn't play cards to pass the time, we didn't watch TV, we didn't shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, that same day, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang "We Shall Overcome". Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.

    From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of "arts and entertainment" as the newspaper section would have us believe. It's not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can't with our minds.

    Some of you may know Samuel Barber's heart-wrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don't know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn't know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what's really going on inside us the way a good therapist does.

    I bet that you have never been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but I bet you there was some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings-people get all pent up with all kinds of emotions, and then there's some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn't good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can't talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn't happen that way. The Greeks: Music is the understanding of the relationship beteen invisible internal objects.

    I'll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life took place in a nursing home in Fargo, ND, about 4 years ago.

    I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland's Sonata, which was written during Worl d War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland's, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.

    Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier-even in his 70's, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn't the first time I've heard crying in a concert and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.

    When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.

    What he told us was this: "During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team's planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn't understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?"

    Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. This concert in Fargo was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.

    What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year's freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this:

    "If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.

    "You're not here to become an entertainer, and you don't have to sell yourself. The truth is you don't have anything to sell; being a musician isn't about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevys. I'm not an entertainer; I'm a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You're here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.

    "Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don't expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that's what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives."

  • A Memorable Evening

    jk_portrait_v2Last night I heard am extraordinary recital at the Kennedy Center.    Nancy Webb, one of our Smithsonian Encore altos, invited me to join her.  Frederica Von Stade , mezzo and Samuel Ramey , bass wowed the audience.  She has always been a favorite of mine.   Her voice is so on the breath and the sound is stunning.   And Ramey's voice is incredibly rich and beautiful.  Their repertoire ranged from opera arias to Copland to Cole Porter, Gershwin, Rogers, Sondheim and Loewe.   When Von Stade sang Send in the Clowns , you could have heard a pin drop.   It was an unforgettable moment.

    And it was so great to see some of our other Smithsonian Encore singers in attendance.   Bill Weinhold and his wife Mary loved it.  And Marie Kissick and her husband Ralph, along with Encore Chorale Camp alumni Jane and Craig Messersmith, all were there.   I am trying to get Ralph to join in on the singing.   He says that if I can get him to sing, I am a miracle worker.   You are on Ralph!

    Could someone please take away this miserable, dreary, cold weather we are having?  My spring flowers don't like it one bit.   And the boat goes in the water in one week.  Hurry up spring!

    All the chorales are having truly wonderful rehearsals.   We are almost ready for our upcoming concerts and there is a lot of excitement.   I really have the best job in the world!

  • Special Spring Dance Program

    encoredancelogoclear

    44_st_marys_campRetired? Has your doctor told you to get more active? Join Encore Creativity for Older Adults and spend your Wednesday afternoons stretching and dancing! Encore announces a new specially scheduled class beginning April 15th, through June 10th at the Arlington Center for Dance.  The current program is coming to an end and participants were clamoring for more - so here's a new opportunity to join in on the fun.

    The class, designed for adults (men and women) 55 years and above, is instructive as well as enjoyable. Class will include a series of warm up exercises to develop proper alignment, build cardiovascular stamina, improve coordination and balance, and increase range of motion, flexibility, and strength. In eight weeks, you will be introduced to Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and Social Dance forms such as Swing and Mambo (just to name a few), while having the time of your life. The class will also include experiences in guided meditation, Yoga, and Pilates.

    Tiffany Haughn is a teacher, choreographer, and performer in the Washington, D.C. dance community.  She currently teaches dance at the University of Mary Washington and Arlington Center for Dance. Ms. Haughn has also been on the faculty of George Mason University, George Washington University, Northern Virginia Community College, The Dance Institute of Washington, Flint Hill School, and The Virginia Ballet Company.  Her choreography has been presented in the DC area at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Atlas Performing Arts Center, Dance Place and The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, among others.  Ms. Haughn graduated magna cum laude from Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida, with a B.F.A. in dance and a B.A. in psychology.  She earned her Masters of Fine Arts degree in dance at George Mason University. So don't be a couch potato! Get out and dance!

    Arlington Center for Dance

    3443 Carlin Springs Road

    Falls Church, VA 22041

    Classes Wednesdays 2:00-3:00 Beginning April 15th

    For more information call Encore at 301-261-5747

    Or Click Here to Register

  • Spring Concert Schedule Set

    It will be a busy concert season for the seven Encore Chorales!  Audiences will be treated to a diverse "something for everyone" concert repertoire. The performances will include favorite American selections of Shenandoah and Deep River, as well as Aaron Copland's Ching-A-Ring Chaw. The Chorales will also be doing one of the most well known operatic choruses from the opera Nabucco: Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves - and for added challenge, they'll be doing it in Italian. Keeping in the opera mood, the choruses will present Opera non Terrore, or "Painless Opera," this time in English! This is an absolutely hysterical piece, sure to bring a lot of laughs.  Encore has chosen a really clever piece, Lambscapes, four historical settings for Mary and her lamb, sure to delight hte singers and audiences of all ages. And for the grand finale, the singers will present a medley of songs from the Broadway hit show, Guys and Dolls.  This concert is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

    The complete public concert schedule is below. All concerts are free. Go to the Encore Calendar for event location details and contact information.

    02_kogod2008

    Smithsonian Chorale Performed a Holiday Concert at the American Art Museum in December

    April 26, 1:30pm, Smithsonian Chorale at the American Art Museum

    May 5, 7:30pm, Lorton, Potomac Academy, Langston Brown and Smithsonian at St. George's Methodist Church, Fairfax

    May 15, 7:30pm, Combined Chorales at Arlington Unitarian Universalist Church, Arlington

    May 17, 4:00pm, Myerberg Chorale at Myerberg Senior Center, Baltimore

  • Combined Encore Chorale Performance Spring 2008

    Encore Chorales from Goodwin Houses of Alexandria and Baileys Crossroads, Langston Brown Senior Center of Arlington,  Workhouse at Lorton Arts Center , Myerberg Senior Center of Baltimore and Smithsonian Resident Associates Program all combined on Tuesday May 20 to present a wonderful spring concert at the Thomas Jefferson Theatre, Arlington.  The 160 singers, ages 57 to 96,  dressed in concert black, were  in excellent voice and thrilled their large and enthusiastic audience.  Jeanne Kelly , founder and director of Encore Creativity for Older Adults, conducted the chorale.

    The evening began with an uplifting Sing and Rejoice by Russell Robinson .  It was obvious the singers were enjoying themselves from the first note.  And the Night Shall Be Filled With Music, a hushed, stunning piece, was sung so sensitively and with professional nuance.  It was one of the highlights.

    The Encore Brass added to the concert with a lovely Simple Gifts ,  a traditional Shaker hymn.  Following, the choir gave spectacular performances of Leonard Bernstein’s Somewhere and Tonight from West Side Story .   They sang with passion and focus and it brought the house down, only to be followed by Impossible Dream . The chorale was truly in top form.

    Encore Brass delighted the audience with the Theme from Masterpiece Theater, Rondeau from Sinfonies de Fanfares by Jean-Joseph Mouret .   Then it was time for the chorale to strut their stuff with fabulous renditions of Irving Berlin’s Alexander’s Ragtime Band and a great performance of Let’s Dance! including the jazzy tune Puttin’ on the Ritz ,  the very sultry and romantic singing of Let’s Dance and the rhythmically precise Steppin’ Out with My Baby . The audience loved the repertoire and applause showed it.  The chorale members were having the time of their lives up on stage.  The audience felt uplifted and they were certainly enjoying the evening.

    The performance came to a close with  three patriotic pieces performed with humble sincerity.  The Encore Brass joined the chorale for the beautiful America followed by a heartfelt performance of American Hymn which the chorale performed for the 9/11 "Arlington Remembers" Service.  The chorus ended the program with a rousing and stirring rendition of the Armed Forces Salute and the audience members clapped to the beat and stood when their military service branch's tune was being sung.  It was a terrific way to end a wonderful and memorable evening.

    Click on photo below to launch photo gallery; click on right side of each picture to advance (25 photos)