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  • Senior Theatre USA

  • Another Form of Creativity that Made My Day!

    JK_Boat_042509When we established Encore five years ago (my how time flies!), we chose the name "Encore Creativity for Older Adults" with a vision that we would offer a variety of creative arts programs. While our focus has been on Chorales, we have, through our summer institute programs, also offered theatre and dance and, this summer, will have a band program at St. Mary's College of Maryland.  Meanwhile, many of our members find other outlets for their creativity.  Case in point is that below "creative writing project" I received from Al Rosin, a Smithsonian Chorale member.  He wrote this for a Creative Writing Class he was taking - it made my day!

    'My Favorite Person'

    The Smithsonian Associates Magazine arrived in our mailbox in either March or April three years ago. The ad I zeroed in on featured the headline “If you can talk you can sing.” Well I can talk and I always wanted to sing but I really can’t carry a tune in a bucket and I can’t read music.  

    The class description goes on to describe the class as 15 weeks of rehearsals, Wednesday each week from 10:30 to noon, in the Ripley Center on the Mall. After the 15 weeks the entire chorale will get to sing in a concert in one or more venues in the Washington area.

    The Kennedy Center is mentioned which gives my delusional mind the picture of me, yes me, bucket in hand, standing next to Placido on stage at the Kennedy Center. OK, always dream big my mother told me. 

    I call the phone number to register, give them my name, age and credit card number and sign up--there’s no audition, no test to pass. I’m in.

    Included in the ad with a brief portion of her incredible Bio is a picture of the lady that will lead the Chorale and play the 4 part music of the program on the piano,. She has a beautiful smile, below a dazzling shock of white hair. 

    When I finally meet her in person at our first rehearsal I learn that the white hair gives me no clue to her age. Her manner is very soft but very “I’m in charge”. In my 3 years in the chorale I’ve observed that she never individually criticizes anyone. She might say “one of the baritones isn’t keeping time with the rest, or is singing in a lower tone than the others. “Try to get up there with everyone else.” I’m a baritone and I’m sure she’s talking to me personally, but when I speak with the other baritones they all feel the same way--and we all work hard to “get up there” as Jeanne asks. For everyone I speak to in the chorale they each say unanimously that the music is great, the opportunity to perform is exhilarating but without Jeanne it wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun.

    So what’s her name already. I hear you asking. You won’t forget her name and she just might become your favorite person too. You should figure out her name quickly and remember it. Show don’t tell.

    He’s tappin' and splashin' thru puddles. He’s on and off the curb and splashin'. He’s swingin' round the light poles. 

    He has an umbrella when he starts dancin' and singin' in the rain, but he gives it to the cop on the beat.

    I’m sure you get it. 

    I bet you all know and you’re right, her name with a little different spelling--Jeanne Kelly ‘Jeanne’ still pronounced Gene--last name Kelly the same 5 letters you expected.

    OK, what makes Jeanne Kelly so very special--Where, when, why, how did she become my favorite person.

    Jeanne includes on her resume being a featured operatic singer, an accomplished pianist, the Director of the US Navy Women’s Choir and many more significant leadership roles.

    Being always interested in numbers, My guess is that there’ll be 40 to 50 people in my first class so I won’t stand out in too small a group.

    There are almost 100 people there for the first rehearsal and they’re there ‘every week thereafter. “I hate to miss a week of rehearsal” is the common theme among the group. 

    She selects the music that we perform by herself. Fall semester through Christmas we do winter, Christmas and Hanukah selections. Winter into spring she selects popular music, which is just great fun.

    Winter/spring 2009 we did a 16 song medley by Irving Berlin, including God Bless America with the brilliant, poignant, very emotional lead in of 

    “Give me you’re tired your poor

    Your huddled masses longing to be free” 

    and on and on those magical words flow almost seamlessly into God Bless America.

    Jeanne comments to us that the second soprano’s are not keeping the proper beat for the music. One woman raises her hand to respond and says words that are jumbled in her tears about her Mother and Father coming to the US. Wiping a tear from her own eye, Jeanne says, you’re right, those words deserve a rest at that point and we’ll add it to our music. Mr Berlin will pardon us. She is a class act.

    The year before we did a medley of Lerner and Loewe including My Fair Lady, Camelot and Paint your Wagon. Nobody entered or left without a smile. The men, during a man talk session said “Damn Damn damn We’ve grown accustomed to her face.” She just makes us better.

    And for our finale that year she selects “When I’m 64” by the Beatles. One man the thought that we might add a little fun to our performance if each of us wore a Beatles wig. Jeanne just loved the idea and wore a Beatles wig herself. The audience laughed and sang along making it a very rousing finale for our concert. She added a separate closing for each 10 years, 64, 74, 84 and the one gentleman who just turned 94.

    There are about 125 in the Smithsonian Chorale this year at the Ripley Center, and Jeanne has ten other Chorales in other parts of the Washington/ Baltimore  area. She has concerts at sea on large cruise ships and concerts in other venues. 

    Our Fall/Winter Concerts start on Wednesday in The American Indian Museum at 1:30 and the Friendship Heights Village Center at 7:30 that same day.

    Many of us have already paid for the Winter/Spring session that starts in late January so we don’t get shut out. She tells us over and over, “When you don’t know the words or the music--close your music and Just Watch Jeanne.”

    I hope that one more series of Classes with Jeanne and I’ll be able to throw away my bucket. I’m sure there’s so much more to tell about Jeanne Kelly, but right now she is absolutely my favorite person. 

  • 540 Singers Take to the Stage!

    aaaadsc_2896Virginia Chorales at Washington-Lee HSEleven Encore Chorales gave ten spectacular spring concerts in the Washington area, Baltimore, Annapolis and Southern Maryland.  540 Encore singers delighted their appreciative and large audiences with wonderful and truly entertaining performances.  The repertoire included Rockin’Jerusalem! arranged by Donald Moore,  Hallelujah, Get Happy! (A Medley of “Get Happy” words and music by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler,  and “Oh, Happy Day” words and music by Edwin R. Hawkins) arranged by Greg Gilpin,  Gwyneth Walker’s Sing On! (A Musical Toast), Shenandoah/Deep Riverarranged by Sonja Poorman and Berta Poorman, Battle Hymn of the Republic with words by Julia Ward Howe and music by William Steffe and arranged by Jay Althouse, A Victorian Bouquet of Filbert and Sullivan, arranged by Barry Talley, especially for the Encore Chorales, and When I’m Sixty-Four, words and music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

    Performances took place at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian (VIEW PHOTO ALBUM HERE); Maryland Innovations on Aging Conference at the National Harbor Center Gaylord Hotel (VIEW PHOTO ALBUM HERE); Myerberg Senior Center Art Show; The Woodlands Retirement Community, Fairfax, VA; Goodwin Houses of Alexandria and Baileys Crossroads, VA; Washington-Lee High School, Arlington (VIEW PHOTO ALBUMS HERE); Pascal Center for Performing Arts at Anne Arundel Community College (VIEW PHOTO ALBUM HERE); Schweinhaut Senior Center, Silver Spring, MD; and the Calvert County Marine Museum in Solomons, MD (VIEW PHOTO ALBUM HERE).

    The singers sang with a richly blended choral sound and excellent articulation.   They totally engaged their capacity audiences with their delightful repertoire and excellent stage presence.    Joining the Encore Chorales at American Indian Museum was the fantastic and and hilarious baritone, David Williams singing the Gilbert and Sullivan tunes of When I Was  A Lad and A Most Humane Mikado.  The Washington-Lee High School Jazz Band directed by Alex Robinson performed at the Washington-Lee concert and wowed their audience. St. Maries Musica, under the direction of Krysal Rickard McCoy (who also directs the Southern Maryland Encore Chorale) performed at the Pascal Center concert.

    All the Encore concerts proved that aging can be fabulously creative and that singing is indeed a lifetime passion.

  • Jeanne Kelly to Keynote at Senior Theatre USA

    Encore's Founder and Executive Director Jeanne Kelly will be a keynote speaker at the Senior Theatre USA Learning & Performance Festival in New Orleans, June 3-7, 2012.

    Details in the brochure below.  Click here to download a printable copy.

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  • Free Time? What Free Time??

    JK_Boat_042509When I started Encore Creativity for Older Adults,  I remember thinking I would have lots of free time.  What was I thinking????  My – our – life has been a whirlwind of events ever since.  I am the type of person that likes to leave no unfinished business from day to day.   That certainly isn’t happening. But I do answer all my emails daily.  

    Leading up to the eleven Encore concerts,   the nine chorales that I personally conduct had spirited rehearsals.   Lots of hard work to get everyone ready.   Because the many chorales never rehearse with one another,  everyone has to know exactly what they are doing!   The music has to be nailed down.

    And I work personally with each presenting partner to make sure all the details are worked out.   Had a “little”  (understatement) glitch with the VA Encore May 11 concert, but we got that worked out.   I think that took about 2 years off my life!

    A Powerful Partnerships Institute was being offered by the National Guild Of Community Arts Education in New York and we thought it was important that we attend.   So that three day institute was thrown into the whirlwind of events.   Learned a lot about what partnerships should be.   Have a lot of work to do on that.  Also learned that we need lots more staff. They thought we were nuts doing what we do without much help but on the other hand,  they were very impressed!

     Then it was back to Maryland to finalize everything for the concerts.   Programs were sent to the printer, concert chairs and risers were ordered, etc.   And oh yes,  with the fiasco of arriving at the National Harbor Center MD Innovations on Aging Conference and finding we had no piano,   I also make sure the piano will be on stage.    You have to cover all bases. 

     May 5 commenced the Spring Encore Chorale concert season and the concerts have been really exciting.   The music is just the right mix of fun, passion, challenge and artistic excellence.   The singers are performing beautifully.  And of course, I learn lessons.   I should never do two concerts in one day.  Wow.

    I think maybe that was OK five years ago, but……………………………………………

    Voice of America taped our Smithsonian Encore Chorale concert at the American Indian Museum.   Very exciting for Encore and the singers.    They are doing a TV piece on Encore.   More on that as I receive more info.    And the Chorus America Executive Director was in the audience for our concert.   Talk about pressure!  But that concert was incredible.

    I have been receiving invitations to speak and conduct.   I will be going up to the Asbury Community in Gaithersburg to conduct an Encore Chorale Workshop.   Senior Theatre USA has asked me to come to New Orleans to conduct their first ever offering of a choral program.  I love New Orleans!

    And then I am off to Minneapolis to speak at the Chorus America Conference about Encore and how to start an Encore Chorale.   Then I come back and immediately go to our Encore Institute at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.  Then I am back for five days and then, ahhhhhhhhh……… Larry and I take Cantabile out for a two week sail on the beautiful Chesapeake Bay.  This trip will take us up the mighty Potomac River to DC.   It takes 30 minutes to drive to DC.  It will take 5 days to sail!   You have to sail to Solomons Island – about 8 hours from our dock.  Then the next day we will sail down and up into the Potomac and probably go into Smith Creek for the evening.   From there it will take two or three more days.   We plan to take the boat into the National Harbor.   Fun!   Then on across the river to Alexandria.   More fun!   On the way back I want to pop into Tangier Island, one of my favorite places on the Bay.   They have the most beautiful beach! 

    Better go and prepare for a conference call in a few minutes.   Six concerts down and five to go.   Onward and upward!

  • An Impromptu Audience

    JK_Boat_042509I was practicing the other day and for the first time this year, I had all the windows opened.   I was accompanying St. Maries Musica, a small vocal group that was performing in our Maryland Encore Chorale Concert.  As I sit at the piano, I can see the gorgeous bay.  I was playing Handel.  I looked out and the graceful heron flew in and landed on the rip rap and faced to the piano.   The rabbits scampered into the yard and sat looking up to where the sound was coming from.   Now who doesn’t say music matters!   It matters to everyone.

  • You're Never Too Old to Sing!

    aaadsc_2897My blog title today is something you've all surely heard me say many times.  Isn't that what Encore is all about??  I'll be spreading that word at the upcoming national conference of Chorus America which I will be attending in Minneapolis June 13-16 and where I will be a presenter.

    So the timing could not have been better for this article, entitled "You're Never Too Old to Sing!" to appear on Chorus America's Web Site.  A lot of helpful ideas here - I invite you to read it!  Just click here.

    Also, Chorus America offers memberships for singers for as little as $20/year.  Click here for more information

  • PHOTOS: Calvert Marine Museum May 19, 2012

    The Southern Maryland Encore Chorale, under the direction of Krystal Rickard McCoy, gave an outstanding performance at the Calvert Marine Museum on Saturday, May 19, 2012.  View photos of the concert by clicking on the photo below. Advance to the next by clicking on the right side of each picture.

    {gallery}Calvert_2012_Spring{/gallery}

  • PHOTOS: Pascal Center for the Performing Arts AACC May 12, 2012 - Part 1

    All of Encore's Maryland Chorales - Schweinhaut Senior Center, Washington Conservatory at Glen Echo, Myerberg Senior Center, Southern Maryland, Anne Arundel Community College, and the Maryland residents of the Smithsonian Encore Chorale - performed a great concert at the Pascal Center for Performing Arts at Anne Arundel Community College on Saturday, May 12, 2012. Between the chorale and the audience, the theater reached its rated capacity! Guest performers at the concert were St. Maries Musica, under the direction of Krystal Rickard McCoy

    View Part One of photo gallery of the concert below. View Part 2 Here. Click on the photo to launch the slideshow, then click on the right side of each photo to advance to the next.

    {gallery}AACC2012S{/gallery}

  • PHOTOS: Pascal Center for the Performing Arts AACC May 12, 2012 - Part 2

    All of Encore's Maryland Chorales - Schweinhaut Senior Center, Washington Conservatory at Glen Echo, Myerberg Senior Center, Southern Maryland, Anne Arundel Community College, and the Maryland residents of the Smithsonian Encore Chorale - performed a great concert at the Pascal Center for Performing Arts at Anne Arundel Community College on Saturday, May 12, 2012. Between the chorale and the audience, the theater reached its rated capacity! Guest performers at the concert were St. Maries Musica, under the direction of Krystal Rickard McCoy

    View Part Two of photo gallery of the concert below. View Part One Here. Click on the photo to launch the slideshow, then click on the right side of each photo to advance to the next.

    {gallery}AACC2012S2{/gallery}

  • PHOTOS: Anne Arundel Community College, May 12, 2012

    All of Encore's Maryland Chorales - Schweinhaut Senior Center, Washington Conservatory at Glen Echo, Myerberg Senior Center, Southern Maryland, Anne Arundel Community College, and the Maryland residents of the Smithsonian Encore Chorale - performed a great concert at the Pascal Center for Performing Arts at Anne Arundel Community College on Saturday, May 12, 2012. Between the chorale and the audience, the theater reached its rated capacity!

    View photos of the concert below. Click on the photo to launch the slideshow, then click on the right side of each photo to advance to the next.

    {gallery}AACC_2012_Spring{/gallery}

  • PHOTOS: Washington-Lee High School, May 11, 2012

    Nearly 200 members of the Virginia Encore Chorales, including The Goodwin Houses of Alexandria and Bailey's Crossroads, Langston Brown Senior Center, Springfield, Potomac Academy of George Mason University, and Virginia residents of the Smithsonian Encore Chorale  performed at Washington-Lee High School on May 11th, 2012.  The Chorale gave an excellent performance before an appreciative audience that nearly filled the auditorium.  The concert featured baritone David Williams, who sang solo numbers during a Gilbert & Sullivan medley (see next photo gallery). Also performing was the Washington-Lee High School Jazz Band (also in separate photo gallery.

    Click on photo to launch photo gallery, then click on right side of photo to advance to the next.

    {gallery}WLHS_2012-Gen{/gallery}

  • PHOTOS: Washington-Lee High School, May 11, 2012 - Gilbert & Sullivan Medley

    Nearly 200 members of the Virginia Encore Chorales, including The Goodwin Houses of Alexandria and Bailey's Crossroads, Langston Brown Senior Center, Springfield, Potomac Academy of George Mason University, and Virginia residents of the Smithsonian Encore Chorale  performed at Washington-Lee High School on May 11th, 2012.  The Chorale gave an excellent performance before an appreciative audience that nearly filled the auditorium. 

    Photos below are of the Gilbert & Sullivan medley, which featured David Williams, Bariton

    Click on photo to launch photo gallery, then click on right side of photo to advance to the next.

    {gallery}WLHS_2012-GS{/gallery}

  • PHOTOS: Washington-Lee High School, May 11, 2012 - Washington-Lee Jazz Band

    Nearly 200 members of the Virginia Encore Chorales, including The Goodwin Houses of Alexandria and Bailey's Crossroads, Langston Brown Senior Center, Springfield, Potomac Academy of George Mason University, and Virginia residents of the Smithsonian Encore Chorale  performed at Washington-Lee High School on May 11th, 2012.  The Chorale gave an excellent performance before an appreciative audience that nearly filled the auditorium. 

    The concert also featured the Washington-Lee High School Jazz Band in the photo gallery below.

    Click on photo to launch photo gallery, then click on right side of photo to advance to the next.

    {gallery}WLHS_2012-Jazz{/gallery}

  • PHOTOS: Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian May 9, 2012

    Over 100 members of the Smithsonian Encore Chorale  performed at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian on May 9th, 2012.  The Chorale gave a rousing performance before an appreciative audience.  The concert featured baritone David Williams, who sang solo numbers during a Gilbert & Sullivan medley. The concert was also video recorded by Voice of America, who are developing a documentary segment on Encore Creativity for Older Adults which will be broadcast internationally sometime in the Summer of 2012

    Click on photo to launch photo gallery, then click on right side of photo to advance to the next.

    {gallery}Smithsonian_2012-05-09{/gallery}

    Photographs by Phil Anctil (Thank You!)

  • PHOTOS: Innovations in Aging Conference May 5, 2012

    Over 100 members of the Maryland Encore Chorales (Anne Arundel Community College, Schweinhaut Senior Center, Washington Conservatory at Glen Echo, Myerberg Senior Center, Asbury~Solomons, and Maryland residents of the Smithsonian Encore Chorale)  performed at the Maryland Innovations in Aging Conference at the Gaylord Hotel, National Harbour, on May 5th, 2012.  The Chorales gave a rousing performance before an appreciative audience of the conference and tradeshow attendees.

    Click on photo to launch photo gallery, then click on right side of photo to advance to the next.

    {gallery}Innovations2012{/gallery}