Archived: Notes to the Chorus 2020

Listed in Reverse Chronological Order:


April 16, 2020

Dear Chorus Members,

After careful consideration the board of the community chorus and I agree that, due to the spread of the coronavirus, it is in everyone’s best interest of safety that we cancel the 2020 Summer Chorus.  I have every hope we can sing next summer.

As many of you know, one of the highlights from last summer’s chorus was a beautiful medley from “Les Mis.”  To lift your spirits, here is a classy parody about quarantine, from one of the stars of the Broadway show.  

Click on the link below to listen to the medley:

My thanks to Nancy Wilson forwarding it to me.  

Enjoy, and above all, stay well.   



March 18, 2020

Dear GVCC,

It is with heavy (but hopefully healthy) heart that I message you on this side of a cancelled pair of concerts. I am sure that many of you were disappointed with the final call in response to Sunday’s change in the CDC’s recommendation. I am sure that others of you were instead relieved, having yearned to begin your social distancing practices sooner rather than later. 

Thank you so much, GVCC, for your work this semester. I am sorry not to be able to message you following a successful performance, and I am sure some of you are feeling like the abrupt end to our rehearsal season leaves you feeling unresolved. (See what I did there?) I can only offer you my solidarity on that point! Take solace in the fact that you put in a great deal of musical energy in our preparations, and that we that we were prepared for a beautiful performance. You truly embodied that music, and I know that I personally felt chills in several rehearsals hearing you sing the end of Homeland.

Fret not, my friends, for music never stops! We are grateful for chances to make music in smaller, safer settings (take, for example, the recently-shared video of Nancy and Frank –, and the time to slow down and listen (Carolie recently shared with me the music of IZ that you can find here for yourself!). 

I do hope that we will see all of you back for the next cycle, as I am eager to make music with you again! We will have a whole new program to perform, and we will see the return of our friends from Walden Grove High School!

Please, everyone stay safe, keep yourself informed, and find ways to stay physically and artistically active from home! I know I’ll be active, as classes resumed at the University today!

Best wishes,


March 8, 2020

Hello, GVCC!

Thank you for an excellent rehearsal on Friday. I am so proud of the shape this program is taking and the care you are putting into every syllable. We are seeing ourselves more and more prepared to sing through larger and larger chucks of the total program, which speaks toward an excellent concert! 

For the remainder of rehearsals this week and next, I will be moving toward rehearsing in concert order. It would help immensely if you could put all of your music in concert performance order as listed below moving forward.  We will be making some slight deviations to accommodate visitors and small-groups, but the overall shape of rehearsal can be expected to resemble the concert moving forward. 

Small-groups, we will continue our practice of rehearsing on our own half an hour before warmup (12:45 in Valley Pres. Sanctuary) and remaining after for a bit as well. I will begin Monday’s rehearsal with the Star-Spangled Banner and Cherokee All My Trials. Please be prepared for a quick rehearsal of the former to leave more time for the latter. After rehearsal, we will see Bonse Aba and Shoshone Love Song. Please keep an eye out for another message soon regarding the location for an extra Tuesday afternoon rehearsal at 2 PM. With that, we will be beyond prepared on concert day!

I look forward to seeing each of you for the best part of tomorrow! 



Star Spangled Banner   Small Group

Shoshone Love Song     Small Group

Cherokee All My Trials   Small Group


Pilgrims Chorus  

Wayfaring Stranger

Bonse Aba   Small Group

Wade In The Water– Directed by Tamara Kahrimanis

Rain Come Down

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor

— Intermission  —

Danny Boy


A Gaelic Blessing

Ching-A-Ring Chaw 

But A Flint Holds Fire–Directed by Angelica Dunsavage



March 6, 2020

Hello GVCC!

The time has come for our final round of rehearsals! Today is our final rehearsal in CPAC for this concert season, and we’re in great shape! The pieces have congealed together quite nicely, and your shaping and phrasing is doing wonders. I look forward to hearing you in the performance space next week! 

As promised, I will take the finale-block in the first half of rehearsal this time. I do this to help remind you what you can sound like on this block when you are still full of energy!  In the concert, you will have plenty of breaks and plenty of musically-charged moments to keep you energized and moving forward to the finale, but I can understand how the end of a grueling rehearsal steeped in details can drain your artistic enthusiasm after two hours. I look forward to hearing the energized version again. 

Thank you to everyone who auditioned for a solo in Danny Boy! I am happy to announce that the solo parts will be sung by Norm Bystol (“male soloist”), Tamara Kahrimanis, (“female soloist”), and Betty Atwater/Eva Jenkins (what I have called the “descant” part). Please congratulate these accomplished singers when you next see them!

This rehearsal, I would like to hear two small-group pieces early (Star-Spangled Banner and Cherokee All My Trials at 1:00) and the other two after rehearsal (Bonse Aba and Shoshone Love Song at dismissal). I will plan to release the rest of the choir a tad early to keep from monopolizing the rest of your afternoon, small-group members. Thank you for contributing this extra effort to give the concert some added variety! You are helping make the message of this program abundantly clear for every listener. Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

I will see you all tomorrow for what I might be inclined to call the Best Part of Friday! 


February 18, 2020

Hello GVCC!

What a great rehearsal this week! We are in a truly great place in the rehearsal process, with nearly half of our rehearsal time remaining for polish, shape, and art! Rehearsals will get to “zoom out” again, now, since we’re well on our way with a good deal of the notes-and-rhythm difficulties. That may mean a little less monotony and minutia in rehearsal, which I am always glad of. As we move forward, we do have several pieces yet to pull away from the piano, which will be best helped by repetition. If you have the opportunity to listen and sing at home, that would help strengthen your pitch memory!

In rehearsal today, we heard some spectacular soloist auditions, and thank you to everyone who auditioned for either Wayfaring Stranger or Rain Come Down. After hearing everyone today, I think our most successful performance for these particular pieces will come from Rosie Imgrund (Wayfaring Stranger) and the talented duo of Dennis Bonner and Lynn Swan (Rain Come Down). When you see these three next, please give them a hearty congratulations!

Next week, we’ll look at the solos for two more pieces, Wade in the Water and But a Flint Holds Fire. Wade in the Water has opportunities for multiple voice parts on similar lines, so please give one a read with us next week during the break. We would love to spread the solos out around the many capable voices in our great chorus!

The solo opportunities in But a Flint Holds Fire are all spoken text rather than song. While I aim to recruit local school-children to participate in these readings, there are many I would reserve for our chorus members. If you consider yourself an orator or if you would just like to participate in the delivery of these hard-hitting lines that drive home the theme of the piece, please see me next week to demonstrate your favorite spoken line. I’m looking for particularly strong deliver of the text that belongs on beat 2 of measure 41, that on beat 3 of measure 59, and anything on the last two pages. I look forward to hearing from you!

The following week is when I intend to hear solo auditions for Danny Boy, so prepare accordingly. This tune will need one female voice for the melody line (Mezzo or Alto), another for the descant line starting in measure 18 and that in measure 50 (Soprano), and a male solo on the melody line (Tenor or Bass). Those interested in the melody line should prepare the opening through measure 16. Any interested in the soprano descant line should prepare measure 50 through the end.

A considerable number of pieces on this program draw on our stamina, so I will be continuing to focus on stamina-building in warm-up and encouraging you to include some of the breathing, pacing, and vocalizing exercises at home! Just a couple of Sippy-Cup exercises and In-4-Out-4 exercises each day can dramatically improve your capacity for air support and help your musically support longer musical lines!

Thank you to my small-group members who came in early today to rehearse Bonse Aba and Cherokee All My Trials! Those two have already made great progress, and I’ve uploaded a recording of myself speaking the text of each into this folder so that you can practice your pronunciation before we hear you again. Don’t forget at the performance practice recordings on the website! (They also happen to be in concert order, which you might find useful)

Next week, I’d like to meet at 1:00 with those involved in singing The Star Spangled Banner and at 1:15 with those involved in singing Shoshone Love Song.

Thank you for your dedication to song and to Green Valley Community Chorus. The program is coming together so very well, and I just know that we will wow some people next month!

I look forward to our next rehearsal!


February 14, 2020

Hello GVCC!

As we enter the second half of the rehearsal season, we have a lot to polish ahead of us! With that in mind, I have a few reminders and tips for you:

  •  I have prepared part tracks for you all to get more familiar with the parts and ledger lines of Danny Boy! At the following link you will find a folder full of all the part tracks you need. Find your part labelled by name and number, and give it a listen in your practice time or sectionals!

  • Small-group numbers are ready to begin rehearsal, but I wouldn’t want to take the usual rehearsal time from the other chorus members. It has been suggested that perhaps the small groups could meet the half hour before rehearsal begins. Since their are only a few days until rehearsal, I will simply arrive early and work with whoever is able to come and work on Cherokee All My Trials(1:00) and Bonse Aba (1:15). I hope most of the small group can be there, but I understand that the notice isn’t incredibly long.
  • Solo auditions for two of the tunes are coming this week! Rain Come Down and Wayfaring Stranger solo auditions will take place during the break andrehearsal time (for call-backs) such that we can hear some of our potential solos in context with the group. Do note that Rain Come Down features what is marked as a “Female Solo” and a “Male Solo.” The former appears to be accessibly primarily for Sopranos, but some eager Alto 1 singers might find it accessible. The latter seems appropriate mostly for Tenor or Baritone. Come in ready to sing if you would like one of these solo opportunities!

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Weekend, and I look forward to the Best Part of Monday!


January 22, 2020

Hello GVCC!

In our flurry to get a healthy introduction to all of the new music, I hope that no one is feeling frantic! You are doing excellent work, and I am learning more about what we will need to ensure success in March. This program has its challenges, and we are more than up to them!

Since there are so many parts in Danny Boy, I will encourage extra listening time this week. I will also work up some part tracks for you to use moving forward. I intend to have those available for you by Monday so that you can use them the following week in your practice time.

Speaking of listening time! I would like to trouble you to give a listen to some of the tunes that you may not currently have in your folders (back-order sure is a bother. What are these publishers doing??) but that are planned for the upcoming concert in March. 

The first of the tunes to listen to is called But A Flint Holds Fire. In rehearsal last week, I saw a few people had already given it a listen, and I would like the rest of the chorus to hear it before rehearsal on Monday. This is the last full-chorus piece to introduce, and it is also the piece meant to be conducted by our esteemed scholarship recipient Angelica Dunsavage. I consider Angelica a friend and a highly respected colleague, and her repertoire recommendation shows nothing less than dedication to the power of song. Please listen above or here ( and be prepared for a brief discussion in this week’s rehearsal.

The second piece to hear is called Bonse Aba. Bonse Aba is a Zambian song of Christian celebration that is sung in alternation between the single line and chorus response. I encourage you to give this a listen if you have any interest in singing with a break-out group that will sing this piece on the concert. I will be holding auditions on Monday, February 3rd, so give it a listen and talk with me this week to receive a copy of the audition excerpt or print your own from the email attachment. Give it a listen here (

One final piece for listening constitutes the opening of our concert. I have a preferred arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner that I would like to perform with a group up to about 8 singers. Auditions for this tune will also take place on Monday, February 3rd. See me this week for the audition excerpt or print your own from the email attachment. Since this is the opener (and the American National Anthem), I am on the lookout for confident, accurate singers with bombastic, full tone production. I hope to give the impression of a quartet opening a baseball game (or something of the like) with this spectacularly impressive arrangement. Give it a listen in its original TTBBB voicing here ( It’s a doozy! And this will be my first time performing it with soprano and alto voices!

Lastly, I have attached the digital flyer for your personal use to advertise to friends, family, teammates, childhood buddies, workplace associates, video-game cohorts, etc! Spread it like wildfire, and help make sure we fill the house!




All the best,


January 11, 2020

Hello GVCC!  

Welcome to everyone, both new and returning members, to an exciting new season of music!

Great work with the new pieces on last Monday, we will continue to see other new pieces in the coming weeks. We’ve already made encouraging progress on the tunes from this week, but there is a lot left to learn on this semester’s varied program. You should receive recordings shortly that will help you get accustomed to the sounds we will be making, so put on your listening hats whenever you can!

Thank you to the several singers who valiantly volunteered to shift parts. They are helping us achieve a greater part-balance to improve our overall sound. Help us recruit more tenors and basses in the name of the sound pyramid! (Notice the choral part names on the left side)

See you all this week for the best part of Monday!