Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hilda Ross Glee Club Spring Concert

This post comes with the ongoing euphoric feeling all performers experience, that comes with a performance. I have no doubt that the singers from today will be feeling it for the rest of the day. Today The Glee Club performed in front of their peers, and invited guests, an audience of 79, where extra chairs had to be put out three times!!

The seventeen women and men of the Glee Club sang well, their words were clear, their voices were strong, and the part singing was secure and most enjoyable in four of the songs that we performed.

A year ago there were twelve singers, and part work was not part of public performance. The repertoire of songs has also changed. Last year they were the songs that I considered might be old favourites, such as 'My grandfather's clock' 'Edelweiss' 'By the light of the silvery moon'. Today's concert included two ABBA songs, Mozart's Horn concerto with words by Flanders and Swann, and a song prepared for one singer's 90th birthday earlier this year: 'It is no secret', sung in three parts. I mentioned in another post that I have an expectation of improved singing technique and growing complexity of music in those groups with whom I work, and this group has shown the evidence of this expectation emphatically today.

The Glee Club is going to make a recording in early December, and today I was asked by members of the audience if the disc would be for sale... is this the beginning of a new journey for the Hilda Ross Glee Club? Rest assured I will keep you informed!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hamilton Chorale data

Having now taken identification from the members of the Chorale, I am excited about this new direction, but also aware that I do not want to view them differently, unless it is helpful to the Chorale to do otherwise.

The median age of the women is 66 and the median age of the men is 69. There are three people over 80, with eight people over 70. Three people have left the choir in the last year, I want to talk to them about what caused them to give up the choir, with my new lens of gerontology, rather than aggrieved conductor.

Now I have a delightful three-group setup

The Hamilton Chorale of fully independent participants
The Hilda Ross Glee Club with residential independent participants
The Hilda Ross Rest Home Singers with dependent singers.

Watch this space!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I have now seen the movie young@heart

I attended a showing of this movie last evening, and firstly let me say that I really enjoyed the movie. The absolute ebullience of the participant singers cannot be understated. Their enjoyment of the camaraderie, the performances, and the learning new things was refreshing and a joy to see, but not surprising for me, having seen such enthusiasm among the Glee Club, the Rest Home Singers and the Hamilton Chorale, with whom I work.

The videos that were designed for certain songs, using the participant singers, were very clever and entertaining: from the bowling alley to the fairground. Their team of instrumentalists is also fantastic, and give great support to the singers and the shows. Instrumentalists are part of the choir community rather than session musician brought in, the movie had an elderly violinist. The movie music track was, for me at times, too intrusive in the setting of mood for what purported to be a documentary.

What is also apparent from their website is that they have been producing shows since their second year of the formation of the group from members of an elderly housing project called the Walter Salvo house in Northampton, Massachusetts. New members have been attracted to the group as they have presented sell-out performances, initially in their own town and then in other towns and countries. They were linked early on to the No Theater and their expertise to put on that first show, and from there it grew 'like topsy' The story is delightful.

The young@heart story

A very moving event was the choir's performance at the local jail, where approx 40 men were being held in a minimum security setting. There were very real bonding moments between the two groups, instant grandparents for many of the men.

I note also that there is a big time commitment to this group, with 2-3 hr rehearsal once a week and three rehearsals a week when a show date is close, along with rehearsing at home with discs to learn the music off by heart. The final product is very entertaining, and very American.