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Author Archive for JaneyH_SoCo

Change Is Good!

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We have a member of our chorus who loves to experience the metamorphosis of butterflies.  The photos she has posted have been mesmerizing!  The analogy has not been lost on me as it relates to this group of women.  

SoCo Women’s Chorus has experienced a lot of change over the years!  And this year is no exception!  We have a brand new Board of Directors!  It’s exciting to see them work for this chorus!  I’m so proud to be a part of it all!  Since September, we’ve had two successful fundraisers, will be presenting the very first Melody Claire Hall Voice Scholarship next spring, have corporate sponsorships, advertisers, and will be welcoming The Austin Children’s Choir (Sam Parrott, Artistic Director) as our featured guests for our winter concert, For The Children!  We’ve been invited to participate in the Blue Santa Parade, which benefits our Austin Police Department’s children’s programs (Sponsored by Chuy’s on Saturday, November 26th) as well as Austin’s Trail Of Lights (Sunday, December 18th at 8 PM).

We’ve had an influx of new members and have lost members as choruses do, but the new and positive energy level and volunteerism is stronger than ever for our 5th Season!!  It’s an exciting year for SoCo Women’s Chorus, once in the chrysalis state and now, gorgeous singing butterflies.  And, as cheesy as that sounds, it’s true!

For The Children is taking shape as I write this, and is promising to be a treasure of a concert!  The music is inspirational and whimsical, with a child’s spirit in mind.  The gospel sound will be ringing lively with Children, Go Where I Send Thee. We’ll sing of the tragedy of the children of Bosnia with Prayer Of The Children.  Once again, we’ll also be featuring percussionists from the McCallum Fine Arts Academy (Matt Ehlers, Conductor).  They’ll be pulling out all the stops for Peace On Earth…and lots of little crickets ………yes.  That’s the name of the song!

The holidays embrace the child in us all, don’t they?  Please consider this to be your invitation from me to join us next month ~ December 10th ~ 11th at Ballet Austin ……..to enjoy the lovely music of the women of SoCo Women’s Chorus, the children’s voices and even a chance to do a little holiday shopping during our Silent Auction following the concert!  And don’t forget your keys for the Audience Caroling!

www.brownpapertickets.com

REVISED FTC Banner

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It is difficult for me to wrap my brain around the fact that SoCo Women’s Chorus is about to enter her FIFTH SEASON!  It seems like only yesterday Karen James and I were meeting at The Woodland Restaurant ~ which is no more, by the way! ~ to discuss my ideas for this chorus!!  Our collective enthusiasm drove us……we met with others who’d done this, we made and posted flyers in coffee shops and anywhere else they’d let us, Craig & his list became our friend, I sang on the street corners, for Pete’s sake ~ just to get the word out!  

I would do it again in a heartbeat!

And so, as we enter this 5th season, a lot of water has passed under our musical bridge, singers and board members have come and gone, we’ve grown and we’ve shrunk, we’ve had great ideas and learned terrific lessons from the bad ones, we’ve had growth spurts and times of stagnation.  It’s been a wild ride!!!

The bottom line has always been consistent to me,  however:  SoCo Women’s Chorus has always been where music takes our hearts!  Where we cannot speak, the music speaks for us.  Where we have adversity or sadness, music soothes.  When we have joy, it  is the music which celebrates!

“For The Children” is the name of our Winter 2016 concert, which will be held ~ once again ~ at Ballet Austin, the place we sang our first concerts in December of 2012!  It’s home.  We will celebrate the magic and whimsy of children!  We’re going to bang on things and sing about crickets!  We will invite your inner child to enter into a place of a child’s heart, innocence, purity and playfulness!

You’ll have one more chance to vote for your favorite songs over the past 4 seasons at the “For The Children” concert!  We’ll take the top 16-18 songs for our Spring 2017 concert ~ our birthday concert ~ “5”!  It will be a celebration to end all celebrations and I do hope you won’t miss it!

BIG LOVE! ~Janey

Regal Women….Apply Within

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We are drawing to the close of 2015 for SoCo Women’s Chorus!  This year saw us singing about love and showing it, too!  We traveled to Ireland with our Chamber Singers and had a life~changing experience!

St Patrick's Final 7.9.15

We came “home” again to Ballet Austin with WinterSong!  Ballet Austin was the venue for our very first concert, “Come To The Music”!  Whoever said you can’t go home again was wrong!  We could and we did!  And it felt as if we’d never been gone, so welcomed were we!

BA Austin

 And now, we’re preparing for “Regal Women”, our Spring 2016 concert which will be held in the historic and iconic Austin landmark, The State Theatre in downtown Austin!!  You may remember our “Believe!” concert there last winter.  We might have to make The State our second home!  It was so grand to sing there!  State Theater BELIEVE

There is so much about the theme of “Regal Women” which suits SoCo Women’s Chorus.  And I want to share how I came up with this theme….. obviously, the royal aspect ~ Queens.  Royalty.  Goddesses.  But then, the not-so-obvious…..those women who are behind the scenes.  Those women who work and sweat and do those thankless jobs we sometimes take for granted…..those women who struggle on a daily basis just to put food on the table for their children…..who walk miles and miles for a jug of water which they will carry on their backs or their heads so their family can have a sip….the women who fought for any freedoms we have today: the Sojourner Truths, the Susan B. Anthonys, the Malala Yousafzais, the Mother Teresas.  These are true “Regal Women”!  And our next concert is dedicated to them and to the regal women in all of us!  And, as always, “Regal Women” will be tempered with a little comedy and innovative singing!  Do you really want me to spoil the surprise?  Ok, ok…..two words……Nuns and Queen.  That’s IT!  You’ll just have to make plans to hear us, in all our regalia.  Feel free to don your own tiara! 

Fall, Females & Fortissimo!

WinterSong Banner

 

 

 

Fall, Females & Fortissimo!

Hello!

There’s a crispness in the air here in Austin Towne!  And that can mean only one thing!  (Ok, it can mean several things, but this is a blog post about One Thing.  Work with me here! 😉 ) What it means is there are just 5 weeks until our WinterSong Concert (December 5th & 6th)!!!

We have had a wonderful beginning to this new season!  We have new voices, there seems to be a new enthusiasm with new leadership within the chorus!  Volunteerism is alive and well…..it’s CRISP!  Crisp like new sheets on the bed……crisp like a fresh bag of potato chips (the wavy original, no-added weird flavored kind!)….crisp like a freshly starched shirt!  I could go on…but I digress.

There are lots of songs in this next concert about “snow”.  Snow On A Moonlit Night…..Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!…..Snow (from “White Christmas”)….THE Snow……..No two snow songs alike!  And to top off this exquisite crispness, we will be back “home” in the place where we began our Musical Journey ~ Austin Ventures Theater of Ballet Austin!  We are so excited to be back!  It’s such a perfect place for us!

 

Tickets will be on sale SOON and can be purchased right here on this website! Not only are we coming home, we’re also going to have another lovely reception following each performance where you can mix and mingle with our singers and have a strawberry or six!  While mingling, you’ll be treated to view some wonderful Silent Auction items on display!  Bid often!  All proceeds will go to SoCo Women’s Chorus ~ a 501c3 organization.  (And if you have something extraordinary to donate, feel absolutely free to drop us a line: socowomenschorus@gmail.com )

Let me introduce our new officers to you:

Co~Presidents – Wendy Mazzurana & Jennifer Tull

Vice President – Tess O’Neill

Co~Secretaries – Alexandra Bosier & Holly Salinas

We call them our “Dream Team” and “Slate Of 5” and they are a dynamite package, exploding with great ideas to promote, support and inspire this chorus! We look forward to your presence in December!  And next?  Stay tuned for another wonderful experience in The State Theatre when we present Regal Women, April 30th, May 1st, 2016!

IRELAND…..from members of the SoCo Women’s Chorus Chamber Singers

Kylemore Abbey Gothic Chapel Perf

I wanted to include some of the memories of our Ireland trip from the singers……

From Sass:

This trip was a dream come true for me. All of my life I have wanted to experience a tour that I could sing with. Thanks to our SCWC my dream came true. It was great in every way possible. A complete honor to sing for the Mayors and at the other beautiful cathedrals. It truly took my breath away touched my soul.

Sass, Holley, Elaine, Kat & WendySass, Holley, Elaine, Kat & Wendy

From Kat:

When I look back on my time in Ireland with the SOCO Women’s Chorus it is not one place or one event that comes to mind but rather a beautiful animation of many hues, shapes, textures, smiles and sounds.  From the smiles and conversations with women I got to know on a new and deeper level, the green of hills and pastures, the rough grey of rocks and castles, the woolly goodness of an Irish sweater, the melodies soaring through the Cathedrals to the bleating of a lamb, the laughter in (many) pubs, and sometimes some tears, jigs being danced while fiddles, guitars and concertinas rang, Guinness and Smithwick’s being poured, the walking in ancient places, the lilt of an Irish voice calling out, “Hey! Texas!” and the fellow feeling for a simple Irish Blessing from the politically important to the woman sitting in the back pew. These are the things I remember about our Irish tour. I’m proud that I am “Kathleen Bannon”…and a true Irish descendant.

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From Skippy:

It’s hard to sing when you’re crying.  Your chest gets tight and your throat wants to close up. Sometimes your voice cracks a little when you wish it wouldn’t.  I cried a lot when I was singing in Ireland, and I noticed that our audiences were often crying as well.  At first I fought it – tried to cram down that welling up that so wanted to overtake me.  But as I realized that this powerful emotion was far greater than my will, I let go of resistance and went along for the ride.  My tears took me to an open heart that was as vast as the view from the top of the Cliffs of Moher; and to a well of compassion that was a deep as the anguish felt by the parents who left their children behind during the famine.  I cried for the joyful lightness of being in the fairy garden in the rain and the sweet purity of a penny whistle’s tune.  I wept at The Parting Glass, as I am sure I will every time I hear it.  I am left with a deep longing to connect with those I met there (and those I didn’t) and those with whom I shared this extraordinary experience.

3 generations Skippy, Charlotte & AubreyThree generations on this tour: Skippy, Charlotte & Aubrey

 

From Sharon:

I loved singing at the Gothic church at Kylemore Abbey because of the intimate setting and beautiful surroundings.  And it really touched everyone when we sang the Irish Blessing and we all got teary with the lady at the back.
And I loved singing with the other choirs in the cathedral, especially “the Parting Glass”. That was amazing!
But my favorite is when, after singing for the seniors at COPE and meeting Ms. Molly, we got to hear them play, sing and dance for us.  What a great moment.  Loved it so much.
COPE performance Mollie
      Singing for COPE Galway   (Sharon is 2nd from my right)                                           Miss Molly in blue!
From Wendy:
[One of the fun things many singers created during our bus rides were limericks.  Here’s some of Wendy’s creation!]
I’m submitting some of my favorite limericks from our trip until I get time to write up my paragraph o’memories:

There came from Texas a chorus,

Who sang with voices most joyous.

We laughed and we smiled,

And crisscrossed the wild

Irish counties and country and forest.

When the chorus from Texas was touring,

This song from their hearts came pouring:

It was the “Mermaids Lament”

Until Janey did relent,

To their harmonies most alluring.

There once was a chorus who hailed

From Austin. The Irish they assailed

They drank pints of beer,

And never did fear,

For “Ave Maria” they nailed.

Wendy & Q at the airportWendy & her beloved “Q”

From Dorothy:

The trip to Ireland with the chorus was a great time for both me and Geno on many levels.  I’d never taken more than a day tour on a bus since high school but I felt quite at ease, knowing that I just needed to sit back and let the adventure unfold. I was generally stress free, except for my aching back and feet.  It’s easy to be in Ireland.  The color green is thought to be a stress reliever.  I felt as though I’d been there before, maybe because of historical memory, ancestry, cultural knowledge through books, movies and music. I felt the same way in England.  I’ll have to try Scotland next.  My favorites were the performances, especially Kylemore Abbey, COPE, and St. Finn Barre’s Cathedral.  This was something that I never could have done on my own.  We had to be there together, having those shared experiences that come around so very seldom in a lifetime.  I’ll definitely travel there again some day.

Dorothy & Geno, Cliffs of MoherDorothy & her husband Geno, Cliffs of Moher

From Chris:

Here goes..

I’d like to start by pointing out that I felt like I was taken to the airport kicking and screaming when leaving Ireland. My heart hurt leaving Eire.  I fell in love with the land, the people, the scrumptious food!  There are many memories that stand out, and one of my favs was when we sang for our service engagement at COPE Galway. It was a deeply moving moment to sing the Irish Blessing and have members of the audience singing along and being touched, as well, by our wish for them.  They spoiled us with buns, tea, or coffee; and they provided traditional Irish music entertainment, which was a blast. Our time there was not long enough, sigh.

Chris at St. Finn Barre's Cathedral, CorkChris at St. Binn Farre’s Cathedral, Cork

From Linda:

My paragraph is about Kylemore Abbey:

Kylemore Abbey is in Connemara County, Galway, Ireland. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting in my life. The magnificent grounds are covered in gorgeous green grass and lovely flowers in rich hues such as violet and gold, as well as countless others. The enormous grey castle, which overlooks a gorgeous lake, is the perfect setting for serene meditation on a bench. Inside the castle, which once housed the Henry family, are these lovely ornate wood carvings in a dark cherry wood. One of the paintings on the wall that I recall was that of beautiful raven haired Margaret Henry in a stunning pink and white gown.
Margaret died of a fever while on family holiday with several of her children and husband Mitchell in Egypt. Mitchell Henry, the lord of the manor, was so bereft at the passing of his love, Margaret, that he had her body embalmed and brought back to Ireland for burial at the future site of the Gothic Church, which he later had constructed as her final resting place.   Mitchell Henry’s actions made the beauty of Kylemore Abbey even more enchanting for me. I could feel the love of the Henry family as I walked through the house and learned of its impressive history.  The dining room was all set up with grand elegant china from the time period and numerous place settings to accommodate  the very large family of the Henry children. As I was leaving the castle, I found myself reflecting on the majestic beauty of the Abbey, so I took the opportunity to just sit peacefully on a bench and meditate on this beautiful sunny day.
The impressive Gothic Church is adorned with green Connemara marble pillars and was the perfect sight for our first performance in Ireland. It is not a large church, but is more like an intimate chapel, just right for a concert. The sound we created in the Gothic church had a glorious reverberation off the walls and pillars, but the most memorable thing for me was the emotive faces of the visitors in the pews of the church. As we sang,  I was struck by the tears I saw falling from a blonde lady, who was seated towards the back. Her tears touched me and I found myself trying to avoid crying myself as I was receiving “the look ” from Janey that meant that I needed to focus on her. To close, we sang ” Irish Blessing”, and I noticed that there were other people in the audience who were crying.
In closing, I have to say that one of my favorite places to visit in Ireland was Kylemore Abbey, although it was quite difficult to choose just one memory to write about. The beauty of the castle, its rich history, the lovely landscape, and the well-received performance in the Gothic Church, all contributed to my conclusion that I must revisit that glorious magical country. Hopefully it will be with the Soco Women’s Chorus sometime in the near future!
Kylemore Abbey Gothic ChapelThe Gothic Church of Kylemore Abbey Kylemore Abbey2
                                                                                                                                                                           Kylemore Abbey
Linda & ChrisLinda & Chris
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As more memories come in from the singers, I shall keep adding to this wonderful experience through their eyes!  SLAINTE!

Rhapsody in Green Tour – Ireland 2015

IRELAND ~ Rhapsody In Green Tour ~ July 2015

 

Slainte

DAY ONE ~ Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

We all met in Terminal 2 of the Dublin Airport to board our bus this morning at 10-ish. Our Guide is Eunan Smyth and our driver is Anton. We already love them both so much! Eunan is a fabulous wit and Anton can park that big ol’ bus on a postage stamp! We’ve learned about the term “lynching” and where it came from (VERY sad!) and “posh” and something else I don’t remember. Eunan is full of historical facts and anecdotes and gives us helpful hints. Our banter ~ not that I would ever participate in such a thing, of course ~ is very easy and natural! He’s a total hoot!

Our 2nd YBA Sale ~ FUNDRAISER for our Ireland Tour!

Our 2nd YBA Sale ~ FUNDRAISER for our Ireland Tour!

On our way out of Dublin, I told Eunan about my friend, Regina Divilly, and how she was planning to come to one of our concerts. I had no idea where Ballinasloe was, but Eunan did. And evidently, it was on our way to Galway! So he planned for us to have a quick lunch stop and I got to meet Reg after years of chatting on~line!!! SO WONDERFUL to finally meet her…..and her speaking voice slayed me. She could have read the yellow pages to me and I would have melted! lol As we gathered to board the bus again, I asked the singers to sing for Reg, so we sang Cunnla. SO much fun! (I think she filmed it.) She’s going to try to make our St. Patrick’s performance next week!

We got on the bus and headed toward Galway…..I fell asleep, and, when I woke, it was raining. Just as we got to Galway, it stopped. (This happened a LOT on this trip!) We drove to the Galway Cathedral and had a quick visit…inside the cathedral……well it just took my breath away. The stained glass was exquisite, there was a stunning mosaic tiled dome in the center. I asked the front attendant if we could have permission to sing and he said he didn’t know why not! So we did.

Singing in Galway Cathedral Galway Cathedral Dome Galway Cathedral Rose WindowGalway Cathedral1

We sang O Occhi Manza Mia and as tired as the women were, they took my breath away. We were going to just sing it through once, but it was so lovely, I took them through it again. They gave the truest pianissimo I’ve ever heard and at the end of the song, when I gave them the cutoff, I motioned for them to be still…..our voices rang for about 4 seconds. It was an emotional moment for several of us. I have a pic I’ll post after I post this. I LOVE impromptu concerts!!! Just one song, but that’s all we needed. They were stunning!

Galway street

We drove around the Galway Bay road and you could see the hills off in the distance….some with rain showers, some bathed in sunlight. It was breathtaking! There were folks swimming in that cold water! Crazy heads! And a sail boat with big red sails that Eunan called a Hooker boat, a type of fishing vessel.  The boat was black with huge red sails.  It was breathtaking!  We parked around the corner from the hotel and it began to rain again…..before it started, Anton started to take the bags out of the bus….so they were sitting in the rain!!! The guys on the tour (Jaxon, Gino & Q) helped Anton get the bags back on the bus and we were able to park directly at the front door.

Hookah Boat of Galway Bay

The hotel is very old and the entry hallway is narrow, so it was interesting to make our way down to the elevator (which also was tiny and held 4 people with their baggage (at best!).

My room is on the 4th floor (top floor) and I have a stunning view of Galway Bay!!!! There is no AC here, but it is crisp outside, so it’s no problem! My phone was dead, my camera was dead, so I began to charge everything and laid down for “just a minute”. When I woke up, I tried to gauge what time it might be based on the light outside, but that’s hard to do here as Ireland has a very long day. (Sun doesn’t really set until 10:30 or so!) I turned on my phone ~ which still didn’t have much of a charge!

I have a wonderful corner room at the Western Hotel here in Galway! Currently, it’s a lovely 56 degrees, only slightly overcast and I have the lovely cry of seagulls as they fly by my windows…just feet from my windows! I can hear the whoosh of their wings! It’s like my own personal little tree house! I can see the dome of the Galway Cathedral & her steeples. Out one window, the beautiful slate roofs with their triple clay chimneys. I see something new each time I look out…..truly brilliant!

We were having our Welcome Dinner together at 6:30. My phone said “6:35”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!! I scrambled to get ready and got down there. I wasn’t the only one, but still…..bad example played out by yours truly! No bueno!

While on the bus, Eunan has mentioned an Irish music show that was playing in Galway ~ Trad On The Prom ~ and would anyone be interested in seeing it? About 15 of us raised our hands, and, after dinner, we hoped on the bus & drove around by Galway Bay once again to see it.

UN.BE.LIEVE.ABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Traditional Irish music, instruments, the dancing (a la River Dance, which most are familiar with ) and it was a family affair. The mom was the fiddle player, the dad was the producer of the show & played guitar, the sister of the fiddle player was the drummer and I’ve never heard drumming like that EVER! She also played a trap set, an electric stand-up bass and a little squeeze box called a melodeon. She was a demon on the bodhran! (I sure wish Wendy Mazzurana could have seen THAT!) I was introduced to a new instrument: the Uilleann Pipes, a bagpipe-like instrument that has a bellows of sorts that’s manipulated by the arm against the musician’s side. It sounds a little like the soprano sax (think Kenny G) and this guy was a master at it. Each time he played, I was brought to tears. In addition, he played a tin whistle and various flutes. There was a keyboard player, also, who also sang….beautiful Irish tenor. Lovely!

Then there were the Irish dancers: 5 girls and 2 guys. And they never broke a sweat. So graceful and elegant and gifted. They took my breath away!! The show was simply magical and I’m so glad we went!! I have a souvenir program with a few autographs to add to my collection now. They are clearly a favorite with the locals. It was worth every Euro. (30)

We’re back at the hotel now….tomorrow is our first “official” concert at Kylemore Abbey. Then we have our second at Walter Macken Flats, our service concert for COPE Galway.

It was a VERY good day!

It is the first day of our “official” performances in Ireland! Today, we’ll sing at Kyemore Abbey….the gardens are said to be exquisite this year, so I’m really looking forward to that! Then later this afternoon, we’ll come back to Galway and sing at the Walter Macken Flats, a senior citizens housing facility, sponsored by COPE Galway. This will be one of those rewarding concerts, I feel, on so many levels. I know the women’s voices will touch many hearts this day! I’m so proud of them! heart emoticon

I must get ready for the day, but did want to wish you a good Friday morning (or whatever day it is! LOL!)…..

DAY TWO ~ Friday, July 3rd, 2015

What a totally delicious day for us! We boarded the bus around 8:30 & drove toward Kylemore Abbey. We stopped first at the Connemara Marble “factory”. Here they bring the mined marble in & cut & polish & form into various jewelry pieces, art and knick~knacks. I’ve never seen anything like it…..we were able to hear a brief talk on the various shades of marble & why it turns into the colors it turns into. Fascinating.y with purchases. My purchase was a lovely bracelet of dark green connemara marble stones alternated with amethyst stones with Celtic knots in between each stone. It’s stunning!

Connemara Marble Connemara Marble Visitor's Center

Many of us came away with purchases. My purchase was a lovely bracelet of dark green connemara marble stones alternated with amethyst stones with Celtic knots in between each stone. It’s stunning!

(Janey’s Edit: 8.17.15:  Eunan sent me a message, telling me that the senior Mr. Joyce, whose family owns & operates Connemara Marble, passed away shortly after our visit.  He & Eunan were good friends & I had the pleasure of meeting him toward the end of our tour & shopping.  He shook my hand and I remember how rough they were ~ a workman’s hands.  His eyes twinkled as he handed me a postcard & told me not to tell anyone he’d given it to me.  He was very kind.  “May the road rise to meet you”, Mr. Joyce.  Thank you for a very special memory for us at Connemara Marble.  Rest in Peace.  ~JH)

We got back on the bus and headed for Kylemore Abbey….the countryside here was more mountainous, but mind you, the highest point in Ireland is around 3,000, Eunan said. The thing about these mountains is they’re very distinctively rocky & jagged. Yet you can see the sheep roaming around up toward the tops of the peaks! SHEEP!!!!

We got to Kylemore Abbey and it takes your breath away for the beauty of it all. The small chapel was quite a trek from the entrance. But we got there and once again, the chapel took my breath away. It had pillars of Connemara Marble throughout! When we got into position to sing, the chapel was packed with visitors from many countries! I heard English, of course, but I also heard German, French & I think Czech. It didn’t matter that we sang in different languages………music ties everyone together!!

Kylemore Abbey Gothic Chapel Kylemore AbbeyKylemore Abbey Gothic Chapel Perf

The audience couldn’t have been lovelier! And there were tears shed when we sang Irish Blessing. The chapel was packed and the women’s voices caressed every corner of that little chapel. Our first public performance of the tour was a success. We were tired, but we were revived by the music. And that’s really the important take~away message here, is it not? Music chases the tired right out of you!

Many of the members made their way to the gardens of Kylemore where they walked through several acres of finely manicured areas of flowers and greenery. On the hillside above the Abbey stood a statue of Jesus out of connemara marble. There is a trail up there, but my understanding is that it was currently closed. I know several of the women who would have made the trek up there had it not been! My little mountain goats! The beauty of the chapel really lifted them up and we were very well received by our audience! People stopped us over the next couple of hours and complimented our performance! That was nice!

Following our performance at Kylemore Abbey, we left for a return to Galway. We performed for the senior citizens at COPE Galway, an organization which helps seniors, women of abuse and children who are neglected. As a part of my vision for this chorus, my dream is for us to be a service organization and I felt it very important to do a “service concert” amongst the planned ones by Harmony International. So I had contacted Adrian Farrell to enlist his aid. I had located COPE, but not a contact person, so he found Jacquie, and we set it up from there.

We arrived at a small community center, greeted by several volunteers who were thrilled to see us. What we were about to experience though was a gift they gave to US. We walked in to a medium sized meeting room, a long table FULL of cups & glasses for tea and juices, as well as cookies and cupcakes!!! I’m telling you they went all out for us! At the far end of the room was a piano which had been donated for our use by a music shop in Galway. They had also decorated our “stage” with red, white & blue banners and their announcement flyers they had distributed earlier. It blew me away. I met Molly and her caretaker….Molly was wearing this sky blue fake fur coat (which she had made) and was VERY proud of it as I asked her if I could have it and she told me absolutely NOT! She had the most brilliant blue eyes I’d ever seen (other than my Mom’s).

Mollie

THEN, we were told that, following OUR concert, there would be some Irish music presented! I thought….oh how very sweet! I’m such a snob! So we sang…..and they loved the women. And I taught them a little Texanese (Hi Y’all & Yee Haw), and we sat down & they passed the tea and cupcakes to us. THEY served US. (Ok, I have tears in my eyes about this.) Then a group of 3 men stepped to the front ~ a man on a tin flute whose right hand shook with Parkinson’s, a guitar player who was very shy, and a bodhran player with intense eyes and crazy hair. They began to play. It was sweet. Then another man walked up in the middle of a song and walked in front of them and around them, and I’m thinking HOW RUDE! Kat leaned over and said, ‘This is how they do this!’ And I just couldn’t believe it! This man played the spoons or something…..then another man on guitar…..and they trickled in one by one, as if they’d had a plan to just keep adding to this trio until they had about 10 musicians playing everything from guitars, to concertinas, accordions & a fiddle.

COPE performanceCOPE musiciansCOPE impromptu dancing

Couples came up to dance in the tiny space between us and the musicians, and it was a beautiful thing to see! I wanted to get up & dance, but it almost felt as though we were the observers at this point….and they were letting us in to see their bit of magic…..

The bodhran player kept looking at me with those intense eyes…..he was a flirt. But the biggest flirt of all sat directly in front of Kat and he was a HOOT!!! (I gave him a hard time for not coming to hear OUR portion of the evening and he came out to the bus later and sang the women a great song with his guitar!)

COPE musician bus serenade

Then, they began to sing a song and all the seniors joined in ~ including my sweet Molly ~ and they were singing for US. I cried for the loveliness of it all. It was so touching and moving.

Then came the time we had to leave…..and they all hugged us and wished us well, some followed us out (Molly) to leave as well……I could have visited with them all evening.

We got back to the hotel and most everyone (my beautiful rabble~rousers!) left to Pub Hop. I had dinner in the hotel ~ with my beautiful pint of my first (and NOT last) Guinness! Smooooooootthhhh!!!! Went back to the room, took a shower and was about to put it in the bed when I got a text from April, saying there was a women’s bar that was having their grand opening that very night and I should come over ~ it was “just across the street” she said. So I got ready and stepped outside…..it was down the hill & around the corner. lol ANYway…..I went and it was a small bar in an upstairs room over another bar downstairs. Aubrey bought me a Jameson & Ginger because they didn’t take plastic and that’s all I had brought with me to the bar “across the street”…..there were about 15-18 Irish women there……and we sang for each other and together. It was great fun! I’m glad I went!!

 

DAY THREE ~ Saturday, July 4th, 2015

We left Galway this morning and headed toward The Cliffs of Moher. I love our Guide & Driver ~ Eunan & Anton. They are so flexible about stopping….and of course, we HAD to stop at the Chocolatier….out in the middle of NOWHERE! It was lovely……I bought 6 truffles in various flavors….and have only eaten one. WHAT??? (Looking at Sass!) The weather was lovely….brisk, but the sun was coming out! Across the road from the chocolatier was an old abbey in ruins….or a monastery…I honestly can’t remember. But there are SO many ruins of castles and abbeys and churches….it boggles the mind! They seem to be around every turn. And it’s not the old “Once you’ve seen one ____, you’ve seen them ALL” because each one has its own personality and style……they’re all unique and fascinating! I would not mind living here at all…..it’s so gorgeous and peaceful!

Old abbey across from Chocolatier Stacked rock fence

The stacked rock walls are becoming more prolific toward the west…..I cannot imagine how long it must have taken to build these walls!! They are massive. And not held together by anything other than the shape of the rock! There is no shortage of rocks around the west of Ireland, either, as the mountains seem to be full of them!

Also, the cattle seem to be bigger here than in Texas…WHAT?!?!?!? It’s true! The sheep along the side of the road ~ these narrow roads ~ have NO FEAR. And they will not move for ANYone or anyTHING…..including buses!! I love the sheep, in case you hadn’t heard!!!! (We’re going to a sheep farm tomorrow, so I will be slightly delirious!)

SHEEP!2 SHEEP! Irish Cattle Drive Irish Cattle Drive2

 

There was a road up to the Cliffs called the Corkscrew Road…..it was. On a bus, it seems even more so! And Anton is THE BEST at navigating these narrow roads. When two buses come at each other, and we’re on the outside edge, I’m thinkin’…..we’re gonna tumble right down the side of this mountain here! I just can’t look…..but Anton has this gift of driving that I’ve never experienced before. He’s a master driver! We stopped at one vantage point & took pictures…..of the scenery and with each other! I’m loving the bonding I’m seeing going on between these women! I don’t know how I can fall in love with them any more than I have, but I manage! They are so beautiful!

Corkscrew Road

We get to the Cliffs and I see we’re not very close…a lot of uphill walking involved. And I just make the difficult decision not to do it. I gave Elaine my camera and I told her I’d just lie that I was there! LOL (can’t do that NOW!). It was really ok…..I went into the Visitor’s Center and there was a film and exhibition of the Cliffs. And outside, I met some really lovely people from ALL OVER! Swiss, Irish (of course), Russians, Chinese, Italians……lovely people!

Cliffs of Moher2

As we were waiting for the stragglers, a nervous park ranger asked us to clear out. Eunan told him we were waiting on our stragglers and he let us stay. It seemed a certain Speaker of the House ~ John Boener ~ was on his way there. I kid you not. We passed his motorcade on the way out. I found it odd that he spent the 4th of July in another country.

We went through several towns on our way to Cork….Limerick was one of them. LOVELY! There were many “flower towers” full of colorful flowers, some I recognized (petunias, periwinkles), some I did not. We crossed the River Shannon in Limerick….it flows into the Atlantic and the tide was low, so it made for an interesting vista with the rocks of the river bottom being made visible and the water tumbling over them. St. John’s Castle was on the banks of the Shannon. It was in Limerick where we had to pay 20 pence (?) to use the “facility”…………Pay-To-Pee.

River Shannon & St John's Castle in Limerick Limerick Flowers

Then on to Cork……I slept I think….hard. So I missed stuff, I’m sure!

My room is perfect at The Jury’s Inn in Cork. I have a purple sofa and chair! The bed is MUCH better than the other two hotels, so I’m happy! I’ve already tested it! Went straight to bed when I got there and am about to return to bed for a couple of hours! I don’t have the view I had in Galway, but that’s ok. Galway didn’t have the purple sofa!

I. LOVE. IRELAND. And I’m tickled pink that the chorus is having a wonderful adventure, too!

 

DAY FOUR ~ Sunday, July 5, 2015

The tireds have arrived! But the energy is alive with this group! SO much fun to be with them!  The bond is palpable…..and it warms my heart.  Gosh, I love these women!

We left our Cork Hotel this morning, headed to our first stop of the day ~ The Kissane Sheep Farm!!!!!!! This is what I’ve been looking forward to seeing for MONTHS now…..YEA! Once more….it was raining on us on the way out, but by the time we got there, it was yet another brilliant blue sky!

We met Casey, the first dog……the farmer (John) worked with FIVE dogs in a very steep, rocky valley…..a stream ran through it and those dogs were amazing how attentive they were to John’s commands ~ a series of whistles, verbal commands (“Come by!”) & hand gestures. They would run and stop on a dime & crouch down. He said they would control the sheep by eye contact; the sheep aren’t afraid of the dogs, but they respect them and are guided (skillfully!) by them to the pen at the top of the hill. At first, the sheep were spread all over the tiny valley, & by the end, the dogs (one of them was named Jane, by the by!) had maneuvered those big ol’ sheep ~ including a sweet black one ~ into a sheep blob and ran those girls up the hill and into the pen! I think it was about 15 minutes. It was VERY cool to see!

John, Casey & Jane Kessane Sheep Farm

Then we went around to the barn where there were more sheep in various pens. The first pen held 4 sheep to be shorn. John took one of the sheep out and flipped her on her back. She was a little rattled at first, but I’m thinkin’ she was really looking forward to having all of that wool cut away from her. John said that if the sheep aren’t shorn, it can very well shorten their lives because it becomes so heavy.

 

He proceeded to shear her, turning her over gently and removing the wool. In the end, she was a tiny little thing and the wool was in one piece! He turned it over and let us feel the lanolin from the wool…..SO silky!

In the next pen, was the newly shorn sheep and a little lamb, just born on Friday! OH HOW PRECIOUS!!! This is the lamb we would have gotten to hold except that she had poopy butt. Ain’t nobody got time for that! But he brought her over to let me have quiet time with her (amidst the whole group!  😉 ) and I almost cried from the sweetness of her! Then she started calling for her mommy, the mommy started calling for her and that’s all she wrote! Her little tongue curled up & stuck out when she bleated! PRECIOUS!

Poop Butt & Mommy Poop Butt

There was another pen with some random sheep ~ maybe 5 or 6. Then 2 pens down, a large pen with orphaned sheep…..this one broke my heart because I wanted to take them all home with me! There was a woolly black sheep in there, too. They loved being scratched around their ears and I loved that…..they are attention seekers for sure! And adorable! SHEEP!!!!!

We stopped at Ladies View Lake, named for Queen Victoria ~ who seemed to love Ireland. It was stunning! We saw a fawn run across the path and into the woods. This was just a brief photo break and well worth it! The air here is so very pure and invigorating!

Ladies View Lake

Then we moved on through Killarney, where a huge Irish Football tournament was going on between Cork & Kerry Counties….HUGE! And the traffic in Killarney was HEINOUS!! But Anton, once again, got us through it with absolute & undeniable ease without taking anyone out! This guy is phenomenal!! He drove us out to Moriarity’s, a family~owned & operated store of goodness & yumminess!! SHOPPING!!!!! It is here many of us shopped for pressies and stuff…..I had such fun until my card wouldn’t scan! NOOOOoooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But we got it worked out and my panic mode went into sharp decline!

We ate at their cafe ~ wonderful food (including beets!) ~ and then sang in the restaurant for the other diners. They loved us…..we sang Irish Blessing.

Following this we drove back to Killarney and some of us took a Jaunt, a horse~drawn wagon ride to the ruins of Ross Castle.  It was lovely and relaxing.  There were about 10 of us in 2 jaunts.  Our horse’s name was Charley.  Beautiful boy!

Charley

 

DAY FIVE ~ Monday, July 6th, 2015

We woke up to major rain today! And we boarded the bus to whisk off to Blarney Castle! It was still raining when we got there. I opted to not do the Kissing Of The Stone…..I woke up with a wee bit o’ a sore throat, and I didn’t want to chance it getting worse by getting a chill. So Krista & I ventured inside to the Blarney Mills Shopping Extravaganza!!!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!!! Let’s just say I got my shop on, baby!

I found the perfect charm for my chorus bracelet…..a lamb holding a clover in her mouth! PERFECT!

Around lunch time, the chorus began to trickle into the restaurant and we dined…..fish & chips & mushy peas for me! Then, we headed back to the hotel for a little free time (read: NAP time!) before we headed over to the rehearsal space with the 3 Cork choral groups directed by Caz Jeffries. They had a large spread of sandwiches and chips and desserts waiting for us! It was delightful! I loved watching the interaction between the SoCo Women and the women of Caz’s three choruses…..like old friends reconnecting! THAT is the magic of music, the international language!

Caz Jeffries, Cork

 

Caz Jeffries & Janey

The singers learned 3 songs together, to be sung at the end of the concert, and it was so much fun to listen to them all work together! Caz’s groups learn everything by rote, so that’s how she taught the SoCo Women, too. There were lyric sheets to share and it was exciting to see how quickly our Chamber Singers picked up on the 3 songs.

We traveled back to The Jury’s Inn to ready ourselves for a 7 PM call. We arrived at St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral around that time and the interior of the church was stunning, with glorious acoustics! We had a chance to warm up and get a vocal feel for the space. Our voices rang up and filled the cathedral. It was magical!

Caz informed me that the Lord Mayor of Cork would be in attendance and she was all a~twitter over his arrival. The Lord Mayoress would also be joining us. She led me to the front door to welcome him. They arrived at 7:30. The Lord Mayor (Chris O’Leary) was wearing his traditional Livery Collar ~ or Chain of Office ~ which signified his office. It was very old, he told me later, after I commented on diggin’ his bling (yes, I said that to him….he laughed, but he wouldn’t let me wear it). Angela, the Lord Mayoress, as she is called, was lovely and we got along splendidly. When the Lord Mayor was invited to speak at the beginning, it was very clear he was a supporter of the arts in Ireland, and seemed genuinely happy to be a part of this wonderful performance!

11698654_866514346736892_6870196949198786429_nThe Parting Glass with the Cork Choruses

Caz’s groups sang first, a lovely concert of Irish folk songs; then we stepped up and sang. The moment the women opened their mouths to sing Purcell’s Sound The Trumpet, the audience was right there with us, listening attentively to every note, every nuance the women delivered. I could not have been more proud of them as I was in that moment! (There were more of those moments to follow in the upcoming performances!) From the Purcell to the Italian Renaissance O Occhi Manza Mia to Gwyneth Walker’s Sisters to Michael McGlynn’s Cunnla (which we sang in the Irish Gaelic), the women were just spot on! Throughout our portion of the concert, I spoke to the “packed house” about our experiences in Ireland thus far and even taught them some “Texanese”, such as “Hi, Y’all!” and “YeeeeHawwww!”. That was a big hit!

DAY SIX/SEVEN ~ July 7/8, 2015

I will post the narrative of our last 2 1/2 days. Cliff Notes:

~Tuesday –

We left for Dublin and made a wonderful stop at the ruins of The Rock of Cashel.  Thankfully, it is being restored.  It was a dreary day, but with only the threat of showers and we explored the grounds and Cashel, this once cathedral, once castle structure and gave an impromptu performance in the center of what could have been the dome of the cathedral.  There was a wonderful small and scattered graveyard with Celtic crosses ~ called Irish High Crosses ~ everywhere.  There were secret stairways, gated off to the public, and restoration was going on while we were there, as they were uncovering mosaic work in the small chapel, dating from the early 12th century.  There were death masks carved into the stone over tombs, and examples of medieval architecture everywhere.  Best preserved, was the Hall of the Vicars Choral from the 15th century & totally restored in 1975.

Rock of Cashel Death Mask Rock of Cashel High Cross Rock of Cashel Impromptu concert Rock of Cashel secret stairwell 099 Ceiling of Vicar's Choral of Rock of Cashel Rock of Cashel Exterior Rock of Cashel ruins2 Rock of Cashel

 

We arrived in Dublin and, in an arrangement (several weeks ago) between Adrian Farrell (Austin’s Irish Consul General) and I, arranged to sing for Austin Mayor Steve Adler & the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Criona Ni Dhalaigh (a lovely woman!), who had only been elected 6 days prior. Also present was the Lord Mayor of Fingal, David O’Connell, who also sings barbershop, as well as a former Lord Mayor of Dublin, now on the Dublin City Council, Mr. Montague. It was an impromptu performance in the Mayor’s Mansion House and we were well received! Lots of photo ops there! The women sang in stunning fashion and Mayor Adler was so very proud of us!

Lord Mayor's Residence 7.7.15 Mansion House in Dublin

 

~Wednesday (7.8) – Most of us toured Trinity College where The Book Of Kells is housed in a glass case in a very dark room for preservations’s sake.  From there we moved into the Trinity College Library where many old first edition books are held on floor to [very high] ceiling shelves, each section with its own ladder to the top.  At the end of each section were marble busts of great writers and orators.  It was pretty impressive!

Following our visit to Trinity College, we drove to St. Patrick’s and sang there……let me tell you, the acoustics there are heavenly. And the women sounded ethereal and other~worldly! My personal band of angels…… the audience there was not as committed to staying for the whole thing and I believe it was slightly unsettling to the women, who saw all the things behind me that I could not. All I know is they sang so beautifully and once again, filled up St. Patrick’s Cathedral with their brilliant voices!  It was lovely to Adrian Farrell and his partner Ralph Jung attend our concert there!

Trinity College Library Trinity College Library2 Irish Blessing at St. Patrick's Final at St. Patrick's

 

With the St. Patrick’s performance, we officially ended the singing portion of our tour…… It’s bittersweet………..we’re all exhausted, but content, I believe, knowing that we gave it our all. I’ve heard “professional”….”angels”….”spot on”….”beautiful voices” and every variation of those compliments!! I cannot say enough good things about these women…..I don’t have the words….they drive me crazy and I adore them…..LOL! They give back to me what is required: a lovely musical soul, 24 voices united in a common goal of presenting music not only with their voices, but with their hearts and spirits.

It is no accident that they are here in Ireland. Everything is and was as it should and should have been: a musical journey of friends together, bonded forever.voices, a unified sound, dedication to the score, a passion for singing and for each other. This trip has brought us even closer together than before. We took care of one another on this trip and no one stole my black & white puddin’.

I love these women more than I can describe and more than they realize. It will be difficult to say goodbye this evening ~ our farewell dinner.

 

DAY 10 ~ Thursday, July 10, 2015

It is my last day in Ireland. We had our Farewell Dinner last night and it was a bit overwhelming for me…..I looked around the room at all the happy faces and it occurred to me that this time 3 years ago, SoCo Women’s Chorus was still a dream for me…..and that these women (and men) sitting in a lovely restaurant in Dublin, laughing and joking and writing limericks and taking pictures, were my dream come true! I’m afraid I began to cry right there in front of everyone. (I’m crying now just thinking about the magic of the moment!)

We are bonded now by this journey. There is no question about that. We have made friends along the way and have left our musical mark in the lovely country of Ireland! (I mean, the Lord Mayor of Dublin favorited one of my Tweets, for heaven’s sakes! I would totally go for coffee with Criona! She’s so genuine! And Austin Mayor Steve Adler is now following us on Twitter, too! We are SO BLESSED!)

All I can say is this……there will be more LIFE~CHANGING EXPERIENCES on the horizon for SoCo Women’s Chorus. With the help of many people, more dreams will become reality.

Slainte!!!!! LIFE. IS. BRILLIANT!

Guinness

 

 

Sheep, Slainte & Song – The Core Of My Joy!

Slainte

Last night, the SoCo Women’s Chorus presented our Send~Off Concert in preparation for our Ireland tour!!  In less than a week, we’ll be flying across The Big Pond to have the musical experience of a lifetime!  Right now, it’s surreal.  Next week?  REAL!

So as I was posting on Facebook about the concert, I was so full of joy about the progress of this amazing group of women ~ not just the Chamber Singers, but the entire membership of SoCo Women’s Chorus.  A friend of mine wrote:

                        “I’m so excited and happy for you. I can feel the pure joy through your words.

                         The cliffs are the limit! Oh, wait…there is no limit!!! Love you!”

My response:

                        “I’m beside myself with joy over the trip, sure. But these women touch the core of my joy.                             I’ve never experienced anything quite like it!”

My friend:

                       “ I can tell. Each time you write it is evident. Whether its rehearsal or fund raising                          or performing, your joy shines through. I long to be a part of that and enjoy getting

                        to experience it from afar. Soon I hope to hear you all sing. Until then, I will peek

                        through your window and be thrilled for your joy and happiness.”

And one thing I said really stuck with me ~ “The core of my Joy”.  And I don’t believe I have felt as though I have ever truly reached down and scooped out from that core as much as I should!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very happy person, and music, singing specifically, has always been a key in my personal state of joy…..but saying that phrase out loud made me see that I don’t say it enough….and maybe don’t live it enough!

But what this chorus has given me ~ and it IS a gift ~ is to really identify, embrace & come to terms with “The Core Of My Joy”.  They have taken a big spoon and stirred it all up inside my soul.  They have helped me understand things that I don’t believe I thought could exist (yet they were there all the time!).  They have taught me so much about my own soul, my own joy, my own substance.  They move me with their passion and fire and even their stubbornness!  They make me laugh deeply and weep openly.  I have loved music all my life, but they have expanded upon that love and deep down inside me, I rediscover my own passion ~ a ferocious passion for this entity we have created together!

So off we go to share our music and the core of our joy!  What a wonderful adventure!

Dichotomies

dichotomy

Dichotomy is an intriguing subject to me.  Two pieces of a puzzle that fit together nicely, even though they are opposite, is a good example.  But if we look closely, we can see them everywhere.  It’s a part of life which we try to fight sometimes.  Every situation or every other human being doesn’t always adjust to suit us.  I know.  That was brilliant, wasn’t it?  We all knew that, but we fight it anyway.  That being said, let’s apply the word to the subject of singing…..and SoCo Women’s Chorus.  (You were wondering when I was going to cut to the chase, right?)

When I first held auditions, I was looking for voices.  That’s a given.  But what I got was this amazing garden of personalities……all different (just like other groups of humans) but with one commonality:  singing.  I wasn’t really paying attention to the dichotomies at the time, but looking back (and to the present), we have the singers who are singing in a chorus for the first time versus the seasoned performers.  Amongst the seasoned, we have those who are classically trained versus those who are self~taught stage performers.  Among the stage performers, we have country or folk singers versus jazz or pop.

All these voices have come together to create the sound of SoCo Women’s Chorus!  It amazes me every day!

I try to create a certain type of dichotomy, one could say, with the music I select.  Fast versus slow, Renaissance versus Broadway, English versus a different language, fun songs and songs with a message, songs in 3/4, 10/8, 2/2……challenging and not-so challenging to the singer (AND to the audience!).

Let’s talk about the audience.  There is a dichotomy there, as well!  The challenge I present to the audience is to hear more than what hits the ears.  Does that make sense?  I have always said that I am not everybody’s “cuppa” [tea].  And I would submit to you, the listener, that the music isn’t either.  There are reasons I choose the music I choose…….for dichotomy’s sake, surely, but for the challenge of it all, to fit the theme, of course, for entertainment purposes but also to experience something different.  And the “burden” and task charged to the audience is to open their minds to experience all of it.  They’re paying $20 for that experience.  I say get the most out of it you can!

What IF a song isn’t pleasing to hear?  Did it strike a chord with your heartstrings?  Did it ‘hurt your ears’ because of the dissonance?  Was the language not interesting to you?  These are all questions to address with another question, “Why?”.  Just as the chorus should be open to a new experience, I like to challenge the audience to be open, as well.

Dichotomies can be frustrating.  But the better part of that is ~ in my opinion ~ dichotomies are not black & white (as in the Yin/Yang above); there are ~ in my opinion again (it’s a blog, people!) ~ dichotomies within other dichotomies; dichotomies need love, too!

Carpe dichotomies!

 

APRON STRINGS & WOMEN WHO SING

Apron strings

 

 

When I was a young mother, it gave me a lot of joy to see my children learn new things….sitting up, crawling, walking, that first tooth, their first word…..you get the picture. Those days turned into independence for them.  It was exciting and melancholy at the same time, but I knew deep down I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I wanted to raise strong, independent women, and I wanted them to be better than me, stronger than me, smarter than me, more of a risk~taker than I was.

SoCo Women’s Chorus has just turned 3!  We never did have the “terrible twos” thing, and come to think of it, my girls never experienced that, either.  Or else I was just in denial because I always thought toddlers got a bum rap by that term.  But I digress…..

One of the things I’m seeing is this amazing women’s chorus becoming more independent of me.  In the beginning, I did everything (along with Karen James) to get this chorus started:  the website (which really is so funny to me when I think on it as I’m SO not a geek by any stretch of the imagination!  But I worked on that website until it was pretty decent for an anti-geek such as myself!), building our first Board of Directors, getting a rehearsal venue, I managed the first auditions all by myself  (I have SO much help now with that process, it’s hard to remember doing it all alone!  Thank you, Chuppie!), making lists, checking them twice, blah, blah, blah…..you get my drift.  Nothing gave me greater pleasure (and still gives me pleasure which I embrace with a fervor!) than giving birth to SoCo Women’s Chorus, my 3rd daughter!

However, I have to be blatantly honest with you:  I’m not sure I like seeing them not need me so much! <laughing>  Oh, I still ‘run the show’ and select the music and rehearse the chorus and make the musical decisions.  And I have always SAID I want this to be THEIR chorus and take charge of the jobs that I once did myself.  Yet sometimes, I have to ask myself the hard question:  Janey, did you really MEAN that?  Is it TIME to cut those apron strings a little bit and let them really take some ownership of this chorus?  The RIGHT answer is YES!  I believe with all my heart that most of the singers embrace my vision for this chorus:  to be an artistic force in the world of women’s choral music, to give back to our community in ways that are important to young musicians in the Austin area, to take care of each other and other women who may need our help, and to just enjoy the creation of stunning and delicious music!  And it is in the knowing of that fact that I can step back (a little bit) and watch them own their chorus.

I have learned (I’m still learning) to let go.  ACK!  Many times, I have HATED letting go.  They can’t possibly get inside my head to really know…..and yet some of them are brave enough to climb right on into my brain….and they DO know.

This is hard for me to write this.  I don’t want to look like a control freak….or vulnerable, like I might be human or something.  And yet, here I am.  Being controlling and vulnerable and human (or something).  Of course, there are some things I will not let go of until I retire from this amazing group of women.  The total creative process, musical selection, musical direction, pushing, pushing, pushing for continual improvement in our sound and musicianship, and eventually, a major voice in the selection of my successor  (around 2037 or so).  That’s my job.  More importantly, it’s my passion.  And it’s in my blood.  SoCo Women’s Chorus is in my blood.

So I will continue to cut the apron strings little by little…..until all I will have to do someday will be to lift my hands, give the downbeat and I will be met with the sound of angels on a perfect day.  Similar to the way it is now.

And out of sight from the chorus, I will tuck away those cherished apron strings and hold on to them forever.

 

Sprinkles Are For Winners!

There’s a great commercial on concerning an insurance agent looses a deal.  It’s set in a locker room and made to look like a vintage TV ad, sagging music and all.  The guy is dejected.  So the woman agent comes in to give him a pep talk.  It’s ok.  You can’t win ’em all.  And then proceeds to tell him to go out and get himself an ice cream cone.  “With sprinkles?” he asks.  Without missing a beat, she replies, “Sprinkles are for winners.”

After last night’s rehearsal ~ which was grand in every way ~ I have decided that the singers of SoCo Women’s Chorus are MY sprinkles!  Ding! Ding! Ding!  I am the winner here!  These women are invested, for the most part, in the mission and vision of this organization.  And if that wasn’t enough, they sing with passion and dedication and musicality beyond my wildest dreams!  They are invested in the belief that creating a beautiful sound takes effort and they are willing to provide that effort.  Their work ethic is a devoted one and I am honored to be able to stand before them and give them the best part of my musicianship.  I covet the notion of being their Sprinkle!

In just a short period of time ~ we’ll be THREE next week! ~ we have gone from being a group of women who sing pretty to a family of singers who make music by pouring their hearts and souls into the printed page of notes.  They bring their songs up off of the page just as one might fluff a sheet or send a musical balloon into the sky.  They come to the music and make it live!

Sprinkle on, my Singers!  Sprinkle on!