Time to savor – this is our final year

Friends, this school year, 2018-2019, will be my 20th year with Sing! In that time I estimate I’ve lead upwards of 550 rehearsals or performances. 20 years feels like a good run and I’ve decided to make this our final year. We plan to finish up with a big performance next June.

I still absolutely love this group. I love our sound, I love looking at the faces of women concentrating, trying hard, lighting up with joy or delight, busting out with laughter, or clouding with tears and emotion. It seems like a good idea to fold things up before I feel weary or wish I were done.

So many emotions in this time. The chorus is a community, my community, and it is so difficult to imagine my life without that weekly shot of singing with the women I know and love.

In the fall of 1999 I had a vision of teaching women to sing, offering a place for adults to learn to make music that was fun and included interacting with others rather than practicing alone. I also had an idea about a choral sound that was earthy, textured, natural; that just sounded like people singing, not like polished “singers.” I feel confident that I have accomplished both of these things. I didn’t anticipate everything else we would build in the meantime. Because this is very much a joint effort.

One of the most important things we have built, which is most dependent on the women in the chorus, is a welcoming environment. There is so much good feeling and goodwill when we are all in a room, it is ridiculous. (Want a taste? Just watch our video.)

We’ll be out and about this year, so make sure to catch up with us. Check this page or follow us on Facebook. I’m calling this year our “Farewell Tour.” We may even make it out of Duluth for a show or two.

I will definitely be savoring our time together and the music we make. I’m also certain that the women in this group will continue to make music. As for me? I’m learning to play the trumpet.


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A little rest and relaxation

Sing! takes the summers off. We all need a little break, and summer schedules mean we’re not available at the same times. We’ll have some performance dates and some news to share with you in late summer.

Meanwhile, have you watched our video lately? And, did you know that you can get free streaming and free downloads of our EP on Bandcamp?

Singers, keep our eyes on our For Chorus Members page for details of summer get-togethers.

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Number Nine

This year will be Sing!’s 9th performance at the Homegrown Music Festival. It never gets old. Homegrown really gives me a boost, it is so great to feel we are a part of Duluth’s music community. It is so awe-inspiring to see all of these people who commit themselves to making music. It is amazing to recognize that most of the musicians do this in their spare time, to bring all of the benefits of music to themselves, their bandmates, and the community. That’s a movement.

Come out to see our show on Friday, May 4, 6:30pm, at AICHO’s Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center, 212 West 2nd St, Duluth. This is a free and all-ages event! No reason to miss it. Plus, there is a great lineup: Sing! opens at 6:30pm, followed by Lyz Jaakola’s family rock band #theindianheadband at 7:30pm, rounded out the great horn section from A Band Called Truman at 8:30pm.

Can’t wait to take in all the shows!

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Everything old is new again

I first met Kathy McTavish more than 30 years ago. We were part of a group of women musicians talking, listening, and thinking about feminism in relationship to classical music. She played cello in a performance of my college honors project. In those days I was very engaged with the music and ideas of lesbian and gay experimental composers like Pauline Oliveros, John Cage, Lou Harrison, and Harry Partch.

Kathy has always had a mind that incorporates innovation, thought, experimentation, and lesbian representation. Lately she is working with multi-media art in collision with computer programming. Her current installation Chance at Duluth’s Tweed Museum of Art, is a powerful testament to an artist’s careful attention to the voice within.

Chance is a synergetic installation that combines code, image, and sound to create a cross-sensory, polyphonic experience. A landscape of painted walls and multi-channel sound encloses the viewer. Choreographed by code, a circle of machine quartets investigate chance, emergence, friction, resonance and change.”

When Kathy approached me about bringing Sing! to this piece, I knew immediately that I wanted to do it. It has been a wonderful gift to hear what Kathy is thinking and how it is expressed in her art.

The chorus recorded some tones that will be incorporated into the soundscape of the installation. Then we’ll show up to sing live in the space. Expect a dreamy, atmospheric, flow of song fragments in response to the sound and sights of the room. We’ll be performing Tuesday, March 13 at 6:30pm at the Tweed Museum.

These days experimental music composition is very far from my normal means of expression. And this has certainly been a new experience for the singers; we’re working quite outside of our usual mode of music-making. It feels good to stitch together some of my past with a piece of my present.

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Putting it to bed

Our EP release concert has come and gone, the video is finished and the chorus is taking a deep breath. We worked really hard to put all of this together, and we were so lucky to have so many friends to help us with the recording, the concert and the video. Thank you all! We had the best time at the concert. Not to mention the singers got a little time before the show to hang out with each other – that feels good! Still, for all of the fun we had, I’ll always feel that just sitting down to sing with each other feels the best.

Thanks to Daniel Oyinloye for this truly awesome video! It expresses all of the fun and excitement the chorus has experienced as we keep moving forward toward new musical and community experiences.

Also don’t miss our streaming and download access to the EP on Bandcamp.

Thank you singers, for giving it your all!

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Step in let’s go for a ride…

The chorus spent the last few months preparing our first ever recording and music video. Whew! It’s been a whirlwind, but we had a blast! We recorded four of my original songs, and included instrumental accompaniment on three of them. Huge thanks to our musicians Darin Bergsven, Jeremy Craycraft, Mark Glen, and Nancy MacGibbon, and to the recording crew Jake Larson and Eric Swanson at Sacred Heart Recording Studio.

A big factor in keeping the chorus interesting and vital is to keep pushing the boundaries of what we can do. I don’t let the singers get too comfortable. The more we try the better we get. Recording was especially challenging. We were not only singing with a band, we were singing with recorded tracks. That is so much more challenging than making music with a person who is in the same room. There are no visual cues to help keep you in. Also, the tempo was quite a bit faster than my usual laid back style.

Because it was so difficult, the first recording session didn’t seem so fun. But, we could feel how hard we had worked, and how able the singers are to stretch and grow.

The video, on the other hand, was pure fun! Our videographer Daniel Oyinloye was so upbeat, funny, and kind, and we got to just play around. I can’t wait for this to hit the street, it’s a fun and funny concept, no big themes here.

Make sure to join us for the CD and video release concert, Saturday, November 4, 7:00pm, at Sir Ben’s here in Duluth. The concert is free and you can buy a copy of the CD for $5.

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If it wasn’t for the women

The chorus was very happy to lend our voices to the women who produced FEmn FEST, Duluth’s own unapologetically feminist music festival. We had a great time. Congrats to the organizers!


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