Saturday, November 22, 2014

Shhh...The Cat's Asleep!

Jubilate is a 'dynamic' choir according to our director, meaning that we have a wide range of dynamic expression. He wants SUCH a wide range that when we sing pianissimo, he doesn't want the mouse to wake the cat.

Whoever said that singing in a choir relieves stress?!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Remember Pig Latin?

How about Moose Latin?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mentoring Young Choristers

Each year Jubilate has the good fortune to act as mentor for a school choir or choirs in the Salt Lake City area. As members of Jubilate, we feel a keen responsibility to provide concert opportunities for these students and to illustrate that fun in a choir doesn't have to end upon receiving that diploma!

This year, we are combining forces with the Children's Choir of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic school for two Christmas concerts. St. Vincent parish has many musical opportunities, including the Children's  Choir, Parish Choir, Schola Cantorum, Bell Choir, and Folk Choir.

On Saturday, December 6th, Jubilate, the St. Vincent Schola Cantorum, and the St. Vincent Children's Choir will perform a Christmas concert at Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church at 7:00 p.m.

Then on Sunday, December 7th, the three choirs will host another Christmas concert at St. Vincent de Paul.

Both concerts are free. If you wish to make a donation, it will go to the Utah Food Bank for those in need during this holiday time.

Four of Jubilate's singers also belong to the Schola Cantorum, including moi. The logistics of singing in two different choirs during one concert are interesting!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some Barron Collier Students and Parents Are Considering Boycotts

I'm passionate about young people singing in choirs and especially school choirs. This is where they learn an avocation that can stay with them throughout their lives and significantly enrich them. Jubilate works with a school choir nearly every year because, as a group, we are also passionate about sharing this love of music with them and showing that performing choral music does not have to end with high school and college.

I'm invested in the Barron Collier fight even though the school is across the country from my home.

As a response to one parent getting the ACLU involved over the Barron Collier High School choir performing at Moorings Presbyterian Church, the district has decided to have one November performance at Moorings and one at Gulf Coast High School. (Barron Collier High auditorium is far too small for the choir and audience).

For background, you can read older posts on this subject here, here, and here.

A few parents and students are considering boycotting the performance at Gulf Coast High School in protest. I can't say I agree with this tactic. It penalizes the other kids who do perform. Unless everyone boycotts the performance it is unlikely to do much good.

I WOULD vote for an entirely new school board come next election.

The current board has been remiss in not retaining counsel even though it has been offered pro-bono and has not done due diligence in researching the issue prior to responding to ACLU. This is a MAJOR misstep. The board's decision to split the concerts, one at a secular building and one at a church building may be setting up the district for the very thing it is seeking to avoid, a lawsuit concerning separation of church and state.

Will this school board wake up and retain legal counsel? Can the board and the individuals comprising the board be sued for failure to do so? These are the questions I would be asking as parents of the kids in the Barron Collier choirs. Forget boycotting. Go to the mattresses!

Madeleine Choir School in Rome

The children of the Cathedral of the Madeleine Choir School from Salt Lake City are in Rome currently. They performed there on Saturday, November 15th, 2014.

"Eighty drenched Utah schoolchildren sprinted across the flooded Piazza del Gesù under sheets of heavy rain and flashes of lightning Saturday night, then dashed up the steps of one of Rome's most magnificent edifices to perform a late-evening concert."

Jan Maria Michelini, a young Italian film director and composer, heard the choir sing. What impressed Michelini was “the purity of the voices of the boys and the girls - the youngsters - how clean their voices are and how they take it seriously, and how they love it really much. I found great dignity in their way of just moving and rehearsing.”

Here's a video of the choir at the Cathedral in 2013.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Handel's 'Messiah'

I was approached about singing in a production of "Messiah" to be performed the 29th of this month. I said yes because it's been about five years since I've sung this and it's a fun opportunity plus I only have to do one rehearsal, the dress, and the performance. But now I'm feeling a little overextended. This will make three concerts in a two week time period with the possibility of a fourth. Jubilate has been asked to participate in the Dickens Festival at Thanksgiving Point. I doubt we'll be doing it since it's very late to make more plans, but you never know!

Time for a little yoga...calm, calm, no stress.

Friday, November 14, 2014

ACLU and Barron Collier school district

Students and parents of Barron Collier High School in Naples, Florida turned up the heat on the choir venue controversy by taking their concerns to the school board. On November 11 the students held an impromptu concert outside the building where a school board meeting was being held, while inside parents were voicing concerns over the cancellation of the October concert.

The high school administration has announced that the November concerts will go ahead. The first concert will be held in the auditorium of Gulf Coast High School and the second concert will be allowed at the chosen venue of Moorings Presbyterian Church.  Yes, I'm scratching my head at that one also. If one concert may be held at Moorings, why not the other?

Barron Collier choirs have been singing at Moorings for about 17 years. The Barron Collier High School auditorium is very small and unable to accommodate the large audiences that the choirs regularly generate. The choir cannot even fit onto the stage.

How embarrassing it must be for these kids to be required to have one of their concerts at a different high school when the second concert is still being allowed to go forward at the church.

In 1997 we had a similar situation occur here in Salt Lake City where a Jewish student felt uncomfortable singing Christian songs and sometimes singing in Christian churches. That case went to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals which "ruled reasoning on the test devised by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in the case of Lynch v. Donnelly, according to which a government is acting improperly if it 'endorses' religion; such endorsement, in turn, occurs whenever the government either has the purpose or effect of communicating the message that 'religion or a particular religious belief is favored or preferred.' The mere existence of a religious aspect is not enough for a successful claim because 'the Constitution does not require that the purpose of every government-sanctioned activity be unrelated to religion.' "

"According to the decision, there are a number of possible secular purposes for a school to require students in a choir to sing entirely religious music. For one thing, most choral music is religious in nature - the fact that this choir is an a cappella choir and most a cappella music secular was considered irrelevant. Also, there are secular reasons for having students perform religious music in religious venues like churches, for example because they are "acoustically superior to high school auditoriums or gymnasiums.Link to decision.

I'm a little surprised that the district has not yet retained counsel in this case. It seems reasonable that, according to precedents, Barron Collier choirs may be allowed to sing in a church building.

Salt  Lake City schools now have a board policy that "Students may request to be excused or refrain from participating in activities, discussions, and assignments that they feel would violate their rights of conscience or religious freedom. Such requests must be made in a timely manner to the appropriate authorities. The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of a minor student may also make a request for excusal on that student’s behalf. If focused on a specific activity, discussion, or assignment, and in accordance with Utah Code, State Board of Education Rules, and district administrative procedures, such requests will be granted routinely and without penalty." Link

If Barron Collier had a similar policy, the student whose parents made the complaint to ACLU could have been excused from the concerts without penalty.

To recap, the Barron Collier choirs will have two November concerts, one being held at the auditorium of neighboring Gulf Port High School and one at their original venue, Moorings Presbyterian Church.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Don't Lock Your Knees!

Eat before a concert but not too much, hydrate, don't get too hot on stage (hah), and don't lock your knees!

And still it happens...

A young page fainted a few feet from the Queen during a speech on Remembrance Day in the UK.

If I had to deal with that outfit I think I'd faint too. Can you imagine how hot it is?

Sometimes, no matter how much you try to be proactive and prevent it, well, sometimes you just faint. If you are a chorister and it hasn't yet happened to you, don't worry, your time will come!