"it's a smile, it's a kiss, it's a sip of wine ... it's summertime!" ― Kenny Chesney
"High summer holds the earth, Hearts all whole" --James Agee, from the poem "Sure On This Shining Night"
Greetings to all! I hope you've been getting many smiles and kisses from friends and loved ones this summer thus far, and many sips of wine or other beverages that you enjoy! I'm writing this letter to you as I gaze out a huge picture window at beautiful Table Rock Lake, which winds for miles through the Ozarks in Southwestern Missouri. Fishermen, water skiers, jet skis, and more are moving back and forth on the blue waters. Even though hubby and I will be here through December (we've started to split our time 50/50 between CA and MO), thanks to the high-tech blessings of email, phones, internet, and airplanes, I'll be able to easily stay in touch with all of you and nearly all our upcoming events, even from 1900 miles away!
And we do have several upcoming events, once summer transitions into the fall semester. Next up is our general meeting on Sunday afternoon, August 25 at Thelma's house in Santa Rosa. I'll send out a reminder email to everyone a few days beforehand, but please put it into your calendars. Among other things, we'll be discussing how to nominate our students for the Sept. workshop, and also some pre-planning for the Libiamo! fundraiser in November.
Our fall workshop will be Saturday afternoon, Sept. 28 at SSU/Ives Hall. Bonnie Brooks will be presenting a workshop on “acting for singers”, incorporating the concepts of Wesley Balk, whose name is undoubtedly familiar to most of us due to his long and notable career as a nationally known performance coach and author.This workshop will be helpful for us as teachers and for our students, too!
We're in the process of ﬁnalizing the last few details for our next Libiamo! fundraiser, which was such a huge success last fall at the Fountaingrove Country Club (hey, pretty much everything we do is a huge success, right?!). We're planning to do it there again on November 9. You'll probably want to start thinking ASAP about another light-hearted song or two that you can perform on the program!
Enjoy the rest of your summer--see you soon!
Sunday August 25:General Meeting 2:30-4 p.m. (Board meets at 1 p.m.), Thelma Dare Ahner’s house, Santa Rosa. Please attend!
Saturday Sept. 28: Fall Workshop: Wesley Balk Acting Workshop with Bonnie Brooks, 1-4 p.m., Rm. 119 Ives Hall, Sonoma State Univ.
Saturday Nov. 9: Libiamo Fundraiser for Scholarship Auditions, 3 p.m., Fountaingrove Golf and Athletics Club, Santa Rosa.
Saturday Feb. 8: Scholarship Auditions, 9-4, Ives Hall, Sonoma State University.
Sunday Feb. 23: Winners’ Recital, 5:30 p.m. Ives Hall, Sonoma State Univ.
Fall General Meeting
Our General Meeting will be Sunday, August 25 from 2:30-4 p.m. at Thelma Dare Ahner’s home. We only have two General Meetings a year and they are an important time to plan, give feedback and socialize. They are always lively and fun and a great deal of important information is shared. We need everyone’s ideas. Please plan to attend!
Our Fall Workshop will be Saturday September 28 from 1-4 p.m. at SSU. Our very own Bonnie Brooks, one of the founding members of our chapter and a voice instructor in both her private studio and at Sonoma State University, will present performance concepts developed by the well known American performance theorist/coach and stage director, Wesley Balk (1932-2003). Among other things, he was artistic director of the Minnesota Opera for 20 years and authored several books, including The Complete Singer-Actor and The Radiant Performer. During the 1990’s, Bonnie had the opportunity to work directly with Wesley Balk at least a half dozen times in various summer workshops all over the country. The Wesley Balk program builds upon basic skills of singing, acting and moving to unify them into an integrated “radiant” performance. Bonnie will work especially with Gesturing and Facial Expression, working to free, expand and open singers into their greatest performing power. The workshop will look at techniques for dropping judgments and “turning down our inner critic”. Bonnie will work with several of our studio students in this workshop. Expect the workshop to be playful, “jumping into the unknown” and fun!! More information will be coming soon.
Our fundraiser at the Fountaingrove Country Club was very successful last year and we plan to do it again on Saturday Nov. 9. The ﬂavor of the Libiamo event is a bit different than that of the High Tea, namely mostly light fare, more show tunes, jazz and cabaret, and humorous songs. Opera arias that folks know and love are also great, but keep in mind the dampened acoustics of the hall. We may use microphones this year since we will open up a larger portion of the hall and the sound does not carry well past the mid-room ceiling drop. It is important to have song contributions from as many teachers as possible. Please send the info (name of piece, composer, duration of song) for your song to Susan WittButler. Based on some comments from the audience last year, we’re recommending we do our best to perform our solos/duets by memory. If for some reason, you plan to be there but not sing a solo, please plan to join us in the group songs that begin and end the program! And it’s not too early to approach your favorite vintners for donations of wine for the event! They will have their names listed in the program. Plan to have a good time!
Next year’s Scholarship Auditions will be on Saturday February 8 from 9-4 at Sonoma State Univ. We need ALL teachers participating as there are many jobs to do, so put it on your calendar now please. Also, note that the Winners’ Recital will be on SUNDAY this year at 5:30 p.m., not on Saturday as in previous years.
Review of Spring Workshop
Our Spring Workshop last April was given by our own Beth Freeman on Performance Anxiety. An attendee gave the following report of the workshop:
“To begin, I was very impressed with Beth's handout. Not knowing, I came prepared to take notes. She followed the handouts in her presentation which gave the listener a chance to peruse and more easily assimilate the lecture information. She deviated only when inserting personal accounts and stories of her experiences which brought us into more of an intimate connection with the material. I particularly enjoyed the information on the brain, and the neurological and genetic components of performance anxiety. One of the handouts was Anxiety Reduction Exercises, which could be useful in quite a number of life situations. The exercise, “Tense and Relax” progressively different parts of your body, is something that I've found to be particularly effective. Her mantra: AVOIDANCE NEVER WORKS was also important since the brain believes everything you say!! Watch your mouth - your brain is listening!! Actively stopping the internal fear messages and reprogramming them, I call it heading them off at the pass, gives a sense of personal empowerment. I also enjoyed her telling how her teacher slowly brought her, as a solo singer, slowly into singing in front of larger and larger audiences. All in all the workshop was hours well spent. It should be a required part of all study! (Colin Godwin)
Karen Clark taught antiphons of the 12th century mystic Hildegard von Bingen and 13th century chançons in the San Francisco Early Music Society summer workshops. She also gave workshops in Petaluma on vocal technique with related Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons. Many of her students are busy singing throughout the world.
Thelma Ahner’s students John Cassidy, Alejandra Talevera, and Paul Johnson sang in Healdsburg’s Raven Theatre production of Evita, which was held over a week because of audience demand. Melody Caspari has opened the Petaluma School of Music where she teaches voice and piano. She will be singing at the Metropolitan Opera auditions in the Fall.
Jennifer Rivera, a former student and a professional opera singer, is married to Michael Rice, and had a baby boy this year: Jackson Collins Rice. She also won the First Prize of $2,500.00 (out of forty-ﬁve applicants) for Great Art Blogger by the Spring for Music festival for her being a Blogger "Trying to Remain Opera-tional!"
Bonnie Brooks' student, Sierra Naumen won ﬁrst place in the Etude Club Voice Competition last April. Last May, Bonnie was the alto soloist for Vivaldi's Gloria at the Napa Valley College. On October 12th and 13th, Bonnie will be performing with the American Philharmonic Orchestra at the Santa Rosa High School Auditorium. She will be the featured soloist and will be singing Edward Elgar's Sea Pictures and Samuel Barber's Dover Beach, both for mezzo-soprano and orchestra. Bonnie continues on a regular basis to sing jazz with her combo, Ginger Jazz, at places in Sonoma County like The French Garden in Sebastopol and The Redwood Cafe in Cotati.
Susan Witt Butler produced and performed "Opera meets the Movies"on Wednesdays at the Waterfall at the CazSonoma Inn in Cazadero in June. In October she will be traveling to Umbria, Italy where she will be
performing with the tour group Castles and Concerts. From her studio: Sadie Sonntag was chosen to perform the Star Spangled Banner for the ﬁreworks festival at the Petaluma Fairgrounds, July 4. Christa Durand performed An evening in Italyat Cinnabar Opera Theater with tenor Michael Van Why, a former NATS member!
Marian Marsh has news of 4 former students -- all of whom participated in the Scholarship Auditions a few years ago: Sarah Rivas is now on the entertainment staff of Disney Cruises; Isabel Brougham is beginning her sophomore year at New England Conservatory; Amy Cebrian, mom of two children, is singing with the Schola Cantorum of San Francisco; Monica Williams is involved in electronic music in Los Angeles. Former student Elizabeth Bice, from teaching days at UC Santa Cruz, sings and teaches in Vienna, Austria, and will be taking a break from the cold winter and by teaching for one semester in Panama, where it is usually hot!