Singing Nuns, Mozart’s Coffin, and Walt Whitman Speaks

This is why I love Twitter. I get news via Twitter first, but it’s also where I just learn about cool stuff. Like these new singing nuns. New as in not Sister Luc Gabrielle aka Sœur Sourire, best known for the song Dominique. Oh Jesus. I just read the Wikipedia entry about Sister Luc Gabrielle. Her later life was terrible. She left the church and killed herself when she was 51. “Citing their financial difficulties in a note, she and her companion of ten years, Annie Pécher, both committed suicide by an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol on 29 March 1985.”

Moving on, Michael Lorenz puts the myth about Mozart’s burial to rest.

And finally, Walt Whitman reads his poem America. That was just a few of the interesting things that were brought to my attention via Twitter.

Bleecker prepares to attack, Finney gets ready to defend. On man, the top of my desk used to be the same red you can see around the side. I wish I had to energy to sand it down and re-red it.

New York City Fireworks, 2013

I almost missed them. I fell asleep and woke up a minute before they started. Luckily, I live close to the river and I could just run up to the roof and watch them from there. But when I came back downstairs and saw on tv how great they looked from the river I made a vow: next year I will go out and watch them from the street.

There’s a downside to that, especially if it’s hot, and when the fireworks are on the east side it’s very hard to find a spot where your sightline isn’t blocked in some way. But I will always remember the fireworks for the anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge. I was able to get right down on the river, to be almost underneath the display. I’d never be able to do that now, post 9/11, but I might be able to experience something like that night. The fireworks were mind-blowing and they were right there. Everyone around me, we were all just so happy and blown-away, surrounded by explosion after explosion of color and beauty. I was young and excited by my life (I still am mostly, but I have worries now that I didn’t then). To be right down in the midst of this glorious display, it was a metaphor for how I planned to live my life.

It wouldn’t be the same of course, but I think I could have something like what I had that night.

Fireworks, New York City, 2013

Fireworks, New York City, 2013

Fireworks, New York City, 2013

Want to Sing? Find a Choir!

“How would someone find a choir,” I was asked yesterday in an interview. I said something like, “Oh, they’re everywhere,” and quoted the number of choirs in America instead of giving a nice practical answer. Because there is one. There are a number of online resources, and I list the big ones below. But you can always google “choir” or “choral society” and your city or town to find more. It’s worth the effort, all the research consistently indicates you will feel better if you sing.

“We aim at being the ultimate place for easily finding information about choirs and vocal groups, for finding and watching videos of choral music that were added by the community members.” The videos are a really cool aspect of this site, but so is their blog.

Run by the American Choral Directors Association, “The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.” They maintain a comprehensive directory of choirs, including a directory of other directories of choirs!

Vocal Area Network
This is the place if you live in my part of the country. “Vocal Area Network is dedicated to the advancement of vocal ensemble music in the New York City area [except they also include New Jersey and Connecticut]. Our information-sharing services are offered for the benefit of the vocal ensemble community.”

The Virtual Choir
If you don’t want to leave your house, there is the wonderful Virtual Choir, started by composer Eric Whitacre. “The Virtual Choir began in May 2009 as a simple experiment in social media when Britlin Losee – a fan of Eric’s music – recorded a video of herself singing ‘Sleep’ and shared it on YouTube.” Whitacre invited others to do the same, and the videos were edited into a choir. It has become something Whitacre now does regularly. The next Virtual Choir debuts this month (and I’m in it)!

Chorus America
They don’t have a choir directory that I can see, but Chorus America is still a fabulous resource. I got a lot of great facts from them for my book. “Chorus America is the advocacy, research, and leadership development organization that advances the choral field. We support and serve choral conductors, administrators, board members, and singers with tools, training, peer networking, and access so that choruses are better able to contribute to their communities.”

Update: I’m adding other sources as I find them.

The Greater Boston Choral Consortium.
Choral Arts Foundation of the Upper Valley (of Vermont and New Hampshire).
The Association of Connecticut Choruses.
Never Stop Singing Choirs in the Twin Cities.
Seattle Sings.
Choirs in Washington State.
Triangle Sings Choral groups in the Triangle and Triad areas of North Carolina.

Britlin Losee, now a composer herself, conducting the Women’s Choir of the Aaron Copland School of Music, 2012.

The Music in My Book and Victoria’s Agnus Dei II

A couple of people who have reviewed my book talked about the need to hear the music I wrote about. My publisher looked into including recordings in the ebook edition, but I think between getting permissions and the cost it just became unworkable.

I worry that people won’t find the right pieces. For instance, Victoria wrote more than one Agnus Dei and there are two in the mass I wrote about. The Agnus Dei I feature is the second one. I found a lovely version on YouTube, sung by the Choir of St Martin in the Field.

I thought of putting together a Spotify playlist. But how many people use Spotify? Perhaps I should make a page of links here.

Grace Church, the place where the Choral Society sings, in 1846, when it was just built …

Grace Church, New York City, 1846

Grace Church now.

Grace Church, New York City, 1846

My Pub Date is Here! Also, I’m insane.

I have gone back and forth and back and forth about how I want to spend my pub date and so far all I’ve managed is swimming in the morning and a few errands. I am out of my mind! What is wrong with me?? I think I will light a sparkler. No, I should wait until it’s dark. <—— SEE? I've been like this all day. This is Charles Street, which I sometimes take on my way home. Lucky are the people who live on Charles Street. Charles Street, New York City