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  • Evergreen Woods - Encore's Newest Affiliate Chorale

    Encore Chorale is coming to Evergreen Woods in September 2009!  Watch here for details!

  • It's Been a Lovely Cruise!

    jeanne_modelOur Queen Mary 2© Singing at Sea Journey was simply incredible! I don't know where to begin...

    More than half of the 21 traveling singers met at Union Station in Washington on Monday, July 6 for a 7:25am train to New York City. We all had lots of luggage because we had to pack all the formal attire, and you know ladies! We took gowns and then of course we had to take the shoes to match the gowns. We arrived in NYC three and a half hours later and walked across Seventh Ave to catch our bus that would take us to the Brooklyn Queen Mary 2 terminal. We were enough to stop traffic (actually, we did)!

    I got so excited when we saw the ship. It was huge and magnificent. A beautiful navy blue hull with the famous red Cunard funnel. The ship towered over us. We all registered, got our security pictures taken, and then it was time to board the QM2. It was just like I imagined. When we arrived in the third deck Grand Foyer, there were at least 10 immaculately dressed men and women in Cunard uniforms welcoming us on board. Larry and I proceeded to our state room which was on the 11th deck. It was perfect! And it had a beautiful large balcony from which we could watch the boarding activity below and view all of Brooklyn. We were starved so we went to the King's Court for a light lunch, knowing that a fabulous dinner was to be served at 8:30pm. After unpacking, we explored the ship from one end to the other. And that is quite a walk! The ship is almost 1000 feet long. And it has everything! It was docked directly across from the Statue of Liberty.......so beautiful. It made my heart swell. There were lots of folks sunning on the famous deck chairs with their green cushions. And people were already swimming in the three pools situated around the ship. At 4pm, we all had to report to our lifeboat stations for a drill. We learned about our life jackets and where to report if there was a need. Being sailors, we took this seriously (About 3 days into the crossing, we came within 12 miles of the Titantic. Amazing).

    img_1650Then the moment came. The ship blew the horns and with that we pulled away from the dock. I had no idea we would have a police and military security escort. At one point a helicopter buzzed in on a private yacht that was coming too close. That yacht went on its merry way very fast! You don't mess with the QM2. Everyone on deck was toasting and taking lots of pictures. It was so exciting. The harbor traffic was busy and it was interesting to watch the ship navigate the harbor. And then we went under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (we barely made it under) and we were out into the mighty Atlantic Ocean and on our way to England. The ship cruises at 25 knots - an incredible speed for a cruise ship. And because she is so long and her beam quite narrow, she really slices thru the ocean water rather gracefully. What a fantastic beginning to our journey.

    Dinner dress that evening was what Cunard calls "elegant casual" and I must say it wasn't too casual. People really dress! We had an excellent dinner and off to bed we went. We were all exhausted from a long and exciting day. But not before we turned our clocks forward one hour. Each and every night we would be turning our clocks ahead. That was painful!

    Tuesday came and we had our first rehearsal at 10am. The singers came prepared with their music and their prepared notes from home. Good singers! We rehearsed in the Kensington Tender Lounge on the first deck. Everything of significance on the ship is bolted down, even the pianos. We were not able to turn the piano around so I ended up rehearsing the singers with my back to some of them. Not the greatest of rehearsal techniques, but we made the most of it. We got through much of the music on the first day and we began counting our rehearsal hours. We only had a total of ten hours rehearsal time! Made me a little nervous, but the singers were really working hard. By the way, we had a wonderful gentleman from England join us after hearing about us from one of the singers. John Watling was just delightful and he was a great (and much needed) baritone!

    The ship offers exceptional daytime lectures and classes which we all enjoyed. Or you could simply walk around the promenade deck and relax in a lounge chair if weather permitted (mostly, it didn't). Or you could go to the state of the art gym, sit or read in the beautiful library with large windows overlooking the ocean, or have a massage in the Canyon Ranch Spa, or have a drink in one of the nine spacious lounges. Or you could play pub trivia, take a French class or a dance class or an acting class with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts' actors from London. And of course you could partake in High Tea every afternoon at 3pm. Something for everyone - and all truly elegant! We all kept delightfully busy. On Friday, Larry and I indulged in massages for two at the incredible Canyon Ranch Spa. Wow! We figured it was a good gift to each other for our upcoming 60th birthdays. After our massages which left us completely like mush, we enjoyed the aquatherapy pool. It had so many water gadgets designed to melt all your tension. We must have stayed in there for two hours (actually, Larry stayed longer, sitting and memorizing his music while I went off to an interview - more on that below). Now that is a the best way I can think of to spend an afternoon. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    The weather on a North Atlantic crossing can be very chilly and ours was. Forget the lovely sundresses that I took. I wish I had taken a fleece jacket. And it can be - and was - very windy. We had gale force winds on our fifth day out. You could definitely feel that. But no one got sick. The ship moved quite well even in that wind.

    img_1727Dinner Tuesday (as well as Wednesday and Friday) evening was formal and it was simply elegant. All the men were handsome in black tie and the women looked fabulous. We all sat together and had a wonderful evening. Then it was off to a concert, featuring the excellent Cunard Singers and Dancers. What a day!

    Every day brought new excitement. We saw the London actors do an abridged version of The Importance of Being Ernest and we heard their poetry readings. We saw wonderful concerts of classical music and the Cunard Singers and Dancers entertained us every evening. And each evening our dining experience was glorious. We dined for two hours every night. Ate, laughed, talked and simply enjoyed one another.
    On Friday, I was interviewed for the QM2 Today Show, which aired each morning to let guests know all the specials events of the day. Just imagine...Jeanne Kelly being interviewed out in the North Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2. It was so much fun. It is all just starting to sink in.

    Saturday came so quickly. It was our big day! Our concert appeared in the Daily Programme. We were going to perform in the magnificent Queen's Lounge for High Tea. The show aired and I must say I did a great interview. When I went down for breakfast, people were stopping me and said they would be coming to our concert. No pressure! Right. We rehearsed that morning and I was so pleased. The singers were full of energy and they were ready to do their thing. We arrived in the Queen's Room at 3 for our 3:30 performance and we found out that all the band equipment on the stage would be staying there. Oh my! Panic struck. I knew the grand piano could not be moved because it was bolted to the floor huge waves. So there we were...a piano that could not be moved and all that stuff on the stage. The crew brought in an electronic piano, but I knew that was just not going to cut it. So in a few seconds I made a decision that we would just perform with the singers in the front corner of the dance floor. It meant they'd have their backs to some of the audience, but it was the best we could do and still allow me to use the grand piano and conduct them. The room is huge and somehow we pulled it off. The audience loved our opening songs from West Side Story. We continued with a beautiful piece called I Cannot Count the Stars with violin obligato. We were lucky to have recruited the first violinist, Alexandra, with the Cunard String Quartet to play with us. That was really a treat. She was beautiful, the singers were smashing and it was a truly memorable moment. We closed with the a medley of Broadway Blockbusters, including music from Chorus Line, Beauty and the Beast, Fiddler on the Roof, Miss Saigon and Les Miserables. The singers really were fabulous! And the audience certainly did respond. We all felt spectacular. People were taking our pictures. We were a hit! I can't tell you how much fun that was. And many people came up asking about Encore. The QM2 never allows outsiders to perform and there we were! Encore Chorale! Quite an unforgettable experience. I do hope Encore will do many more "crossings" on the QM2 (I'll be working on that!).

    We all had a spectacular dinner that evening, followed by another entertaining show of dance and singing. The headliner that evening was Gary Williams, the singer who starred in the London West End production of Rat Pack. A perfect day indeed! I keep saying it can't get any better and...it just does!

    I did not sleep much the last night. Too excited and too tired! At 3am I got up and the wind was howling and I opened our drapes and unbelievably, out of the clouds and rain appeared the most beautiful castle on the shore of England. I will never forget that. Larry and I stood on our balcony and watched the shoreline and in a few hours we reached the Southampton QM2 terminal. What an unforgettable journey. As Cunard puts it, "It isn't the destination but it is the journey." An epic journey. And I hope there will be many more!

    By the way, many of our singers were busy taking pictures throughout the cruise. I've asked them to send me their best, so in two or three weeks, we'll post a photo album of the cruise here on our web site. Watch for it!

  • St. Mary's "Class Photo"

    Larry just finished putting together this "Class of 2009" photo from the recent camp at St. Mary's College of Maryland (8x10 prints available).  I love it!

    st marys summer campers 2009

  • On to Connecticut!

    JK_Boat_042509I just returned from Southington, Connecticut for meetings with my good friends Katia and Pier Giorgio DeLucia who are going to begin an Encore Creativity program in Connecticut.  It is very exciting to be expanding  across the country, with Encore leading the effort in providing  an excellent and accessible artistic environment for older adults, 55 and over, regardless of experience or ability, who seek arts education and performance opportunities under a professional artist.

    I have known Katia for many years, as I was her very first voice teacher in Northern Virginia and then we met up again through her voice studies at Catholic Universitywhere I taught her.  Her husband, Pier Giorgio, has a Conservatory Degree from the Boito Conservatoryin Parma, Italyand he just finished a tenure as conductor of the Florianopolis, Brazil, Chorale.  Together, they will  be starting an Encore Chorale program at the Evergreen Woods Retirement Communityin North Branford, CT.  Katia, Pier Giorgio and I visited Evergreen Woods on Tuesday and had a wonderful time meeting the residents. We had an Encore "rehearsal" with the singers who would like to participate in Encore, which will begin in September, 2009.  We rehearsed Danny Boy and Concerschtickwith the singers and they really enjoyed themselves.   And we had a great time working with them.   

    I found Evergreen Woods through one of my Myerberg singers, Myra Hettleman.  Her son, Jeffrey, is a Vice President with the Shelter Groupwho owns Brightview Retirement Communities, of which Evergreen Woods is part.   He attended our Myerberg Encore Chorale Spring Concert and he was so impressed that he came up to me and we spoke about the possibility of having Encore at their retirement communities.   Since they had Evergreen Woods in Connecticut and Katia and Pier Giorgio just moved to CT, it made great sense to start at Evergreen Woods.  

    So.........Connecticut here we come!

  • How I'm Spending My Summer (Hint: No Vacation!)

    JK_Boat_042509Well, I have decided there is absolutely no down time to Encore. The summer has been so busy with our June Encore Chorale Camp at St. Mary's College of Maryland, planning for our August-September Chautauqua Encore Chorale Camp, the QM2 Singing at Sea Journey in July, and starting our new Encore Singers program, designed exclusively for assisted living communities. We are very pleased with our success we have enjoyed at the Brighton Gardens Assisted Living at Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda.Encore Singers is under the very capable direction of Linda Maguire, a wonderful mezzo soprano and church choral conductor. She has sung professionally all over the world and really can get the most out of our Brighton Gardens singers. They rehearse on Mondays and they all eagerly await her arrival every Monday afternoon. We regularly have 25 singers and they are rehearsing some great repertoire to be performed in concert at the end of summer. I really look forward to hearing and seeing them. We are also in talks for a second Assisted Living Encore Singers program. Very exciting indeed.

    I mentioned way back that my husband Larry was going to be singing in the chorale on board the QM2. He loved the experience. Now if I only could get him to stop singing the songs! He is driving me nuts.I am trying to get him to join the Smithsonian Encore Chorale which is near his work. We'll see. I promised I would not pick on him.

    Donna Anderson, director of our Affiliate Encore Chorale at Laurel Lake Retirement Community in Hudson, Ohio, and I are going to be putting together an Encore Chorale Weekend Workshop out in Hudson, mid-November. She will invite all the area singers, 55 and over.Sounds like a fun weekend to me!

    And then I spoke with John Woicikowfski down in Lubbock, Texas and he is very interested in the idea of offering an Encore Chorale Camp next summer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He thinks there are many Texan and Southwestern singers 55+ who would love the idea. Wow!

    And then there is the grant writing! Marge Lynch, soprano with the Smithsonian Encore Chorale, has generously stepped up to bat to help with this daunting process of grant writing. It is arduous at best. I am most grateful to her. Together we can gain a lot of attention to Encore and hopefully find some much needed support to keep doing all the programs Encore does so well.

    So...no down time for Encore. But that's OK. I even love the office work, as long as I get to sail on the weekend. Ah, I hear Cantabile calling...and the wind is up! Let's go!

  • Singing at Sea: What a Cruise!

    000_group_photo_qm2_2009(Update 8/2/09: Sorry we failed to list Ruth Marshall from the Smithsonian Encore Chorale as a cruise participant (corrected).  Photos of the Cruise are now posted in the Photo Gallery)

    Encore Chorale's first Singing at Sea journey aboard the luxurious Queen Mary 2 was simply incredible. All expectations were exceeded and everyone will remember this "crossing" for a lifetime. It all began on July 6 when many members of the group met at Union Station to board Amtrak bound for New York City. We reached NYC and were whisked away on a bus to travel to the QM2 Brooklyn terminal. The ship is so large that it was visible from blocks away. With a navy blue hull and the famous Cunard red funnel and running almost 1000 feet in length, she is just gorgeous. The singers boarded the ship and were met by the Cunard staff, all in dress uniforms, welcoming all onto the QM2. It was a most glamorous and exciting moment. The singers settled into their staterooms and then explored the ship from bow to stern, all awaiting the ship's whistle and sailing out into the New York City Harbor at 6pm sharp. The ship had quite an entourage of police escorts, both vessels and helicopters, and numerous pleasure craft. The ship sailed under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and by 7pm was in the open waters of the Atlantic. Then all reported to their lifeboat stations for a quick lecture on safety and to learn to use the life jackets. Singers returned to their cabins to freshen up for dinner, titled "elegant casual" by Cunard. The group had all travelled the entire day, and was ready to enjoy a fabulous dinner. Then off to a good night's rest.

    irelandtripno1-july12-192009 125The next morning brought the first rehearsal at sea. The group rehearsed on the first deck in the Kensington Tender Room. Director Jeanne Kelly found that the piano was bolted to the deck and could not be moved, so there was some improvising. Just about everything on the ship is bolted to the deck, in case large waves or huge storms occur. The singers had all received their music beforehand, and were ready to get off to a great start. The singers included Ruth Marshall, Christine Moore, Pierre and Marie Madon, Marge Lynch, Jed and Jill Duvall, Ed Vilade and Alice Drew from the Smithsonian Encore Chorale; Nancy Hirsche from Myerberg Encore Chorale; Jeanne Mossinghof, Leta Chappell and Malcolm Agnew from Langston Brown Encore Chorale; Phyllis Kines and Prov Billings from Lorton Encore Chorale; Larry Kelly, Encore's Director of Business Operation and husband of Encore Director Jeanne; Judy Courtney, a singer from St. Louis; Louise Buchanan, a singer from the Congressional Chorus; Jan Vanderstaay, friend of Malcolm; Allan Moore, husband of Christine Moore; and John Watling from London, England. The group had ten rehearsal hours to prepare for the concert in the Queen's Room on the final day of the cruise. Ten hours and everyone was counting the minutes.

  • St. Mary's Camp 2009 Photo Album Part I




  • St. Mary's Camp 2009 Photo Album Part II

  • St. Mary's Camp 2009 Photo Album Part III

  • St. Mary's Camp 2009 - Wow!

    aaimg_1528The Encore Chorale Camp at St. Mary’s College of Maryland June 16-20, 2009, was a huge success.  Encore had 39 “happy campers,” ages 55 to 88 years of age and they all had a fabulous five days. READ FULL REPORT HERE.