Warm winter greetings to all! The holiday season is upon us once again! It's a good thing all our major chapter events are ﬁnished for this calendar year, since we'll all soon be swept up in the swirl of holiday concerts, rehearsals, performances, parties, family get-togethers, and other festivities. We'll be ending this year of 2013 with several more successful workshops and fundraisers under our collective belt, and a healthy bank account ready and able to fund next year's upcoming chapter events!
We all deserve to bask in the glow of the recent and wonderful "Libiamo! A Toast to Song!" Our proﬁt margin this year was one of our highest, and we'll be more than pleased to spread it around to our talented student singer-winners this coming February at the
The board is hoping to have an excellent turnout for the general meeting scheduled for Sunday afternoon, January 12th. Please reserve that afternoon in your appointment calendar! We have much to plan and discuss, including details relating to the scholarship auditions and the spring workshop.
I hope you've been able to easily go online at www.nats.org to renew your national and chapter dues for the new year. We very much want all our previous members to continue with us, and we look forward to welcoming some new faces as well! Now enjoy reading the rest of the newsletter, and please let us know your fresh ideas and feedback for our chapter's continued growth!
Wishing you a lovely holiday season,
" " Vaida Falconbridge
" " chapter president
Libiamo a Big Success!
Libiamo, our Scholarship Auditions fundraiser, was a big success, bringing in $1605 to support the scholarships. It was held at the Fountaingrove Golf and Athletic Club once again, and though ticket sales were unfortunately down a bit, we had a fabulous auction,
organized by Sandy Riccardi, that netted $936! Many of us participated in one way or another: singing, organizing, donating to the auction, donating a ticket, donating wine. It’s so important that everyone help so that our scholarship auditions are well funded! And those of us who were there had a very fun time building camaraderie through song!
Sunday Jan. 12: General Meeting 2:30-4 p.m. (Board meets at 1) at home of Mary Beard. Please come!
Saturday Feb. 8: Scholarship Audi tions, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Ives Hall, SSU
Sunday Feb. 23: Winners’ Recital 5:30 p.m., Ives Hall, SSU
Spring Workshop TBA
Wesley Balk Workshop
In September, chapter member Bonnie Brooks gave a well-attended workshop on vocal expression, using Wesley Balk’s methods. For this workshop, she worked mostly with gesture and had the entire group up singing in a wondrous cacophony while we
gestured according to her directions, using different body and hand motions. After a short intermission, 6 students
each sang a song. They then re-sang their song while mirroring the arbitrarymotions of one of the other singers. All of the singers found it silly at times yet profound and very freeing. Theyall took a risk and it made a marked change in their voices and expression.
They felt the gestures were someone else’s -- they just mirrored them -- and so if they were silly “it wasn't their fault.” Several said they couldn’t concentrate on “technique” or doing it “right” which made them feel free and fully able to enjoy singing their song.
The Scholarship Auditions for 2014 will be on Saturday February 8 in Ives Hall at Sonoma State University.
Application forms are enclosed with
the newsletter or on this website under events. Please note deadlines! College students who won’t be back
until late January may want to ﬁll them out before they leave for Winter Break.
Please note that, due to schedulingdifﬁculties at SSU, the Winners’ Recital is on a Sunday, Feb. 23, at our
usual time of 5:30 p.m.
NATS December Newsletter Page 2 December 2013
From the Studios
Napa. On Sat., Feb. 15th, she will
perform a Valentine’s Show with
GingerJazz, which includes John
Simon on Piano and Cliff Hugo on
bass, at the Redwood Cafe in Cotati
from 7:30-9:30; cost $10. And on
Sat., May 3rd, she will perform with
GingerJazz at the Sebastopol Center
For The Arts from 7:30-9:30; cost $20.
Bonnie will give her Wesley Balk
Methods Class at her home studio on
Sat. Jan. 11th from 1-4, cost $35. It is
open to any and all students.
Mary Beard’s student, Chris
Hohmann, is performing the role of
Jean Valjean in the current production
of Les Miserables at the Santa Rosa
Junior College. Three years ago he
was the 1st place winner in the high
school division of our chapter’s
Susan Witt-Butler recently returned
from performing in Perugia, Italy with
the tour group Castles and Concerts,
Her student Sadie Sontagg, in
addition to her performances with
Vespertine Orchestra, performed as
part of the solo quartet in Mozart
"Requiem" at Weill Hall, GMC. She
also performed, as a previous winner,
an original song in our fundraiser
Simone Lyne Comtois’ previous
student Brittany Law, 1st prize winner
of her category in last February's
Scholarship Auditions of the Redwood
Empire Chapter, is performing the role
of Eponine in the November/
December production of Les
Miserables with the Santa Rosa Junior
Bonnie Brooks will perform with
John Simon (piano) on Friday, Dec.
27th at The French Garden Restaurant
in Sebastopol in the Bistro from 7-10,
free. Friday, Jan. 3rd, she will sing in
“It’s a Grand Night for Singing” at 8
p.m. at the Jarvis Conservatory in
National Association of Teachers of Singing
Redwood Empire Chapter
"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 onlyhave 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 wellknown 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!