Voice classes I offer through various schools and organizations

My student concerts are always free and always short. That’s how we keep the audiences coming. Oh, and audiences get to sing if they want, too.

The Platinum Singers are singing their OWN songs this week, plus our own parody of YMCA*, all in a 30 minute concert at 3:00 on Wednesday April 22 at the Harriet Tubman House, corner of Columbus and Mass Ave.  Upstairs in the Lincoln Room.
*the letters of U-S-E-S (United South End Settlements, our sponsor and host for the wonderful senior programs).

JP Jubilee does their end-of-semester concert on Saturday May 9 at 12:30pm at the Jamaica Plain branch Library.  Flyer below, by our members Lizi Brown and Estelle Disch:

A group of singers on stage, kicking their legs like Rockettes
Who says Seniors can’t kick …?

And on Wednesday, May 13 at 8:00pm, the Bach Arias Class at the New England Conservatory of Music is giving a class concert.  Just a few delicious morsels; 3 lovely singers, a violin, harpsichord and the teacher may even sing a bit with the group at the end…short, sweet and free.   Room 367 in the main building.

And, as always, I am accepting private students in Cambridge and Jamaica Plain, long or short-term…inquire within.

B-A-C-H

Come learn to sing and play JS Bach, improve your chamber music skills, enjoy the gorgeous arias of the cantatas and oratorios.
Class meets on Wednesday evenings 7:30-9pm. It begins January 14 and goes for 15 weeks. Even if you have to miss a few sessions, it’s a treat to get to sing and play these arias and do a performance at the end.  Open to singers, strings, winds, keyboard players.

Here’s the skinny: http://necmusic.edu/ce/voice-opera. It costs less than $45/class for 15 weeks, a non-credit class through the School of Continuing Education.

Did you know? In German, the name Bach spells out four musical notes (B —B flat, A—A natural, C—C natural, H—B natural).

This is your chance! Daytime classes start Wednesday in the South End and Friday in Jamaica Plain. Both accessible by bus, parking is pretty darn good, and the teacher is really fun. Ostensibly for folks 55+, we do not card at the door.

The Platinum Singers meet Wednesdays 2-3:30 starting September 17 at the Harriet Tubman House, corner of Mass and Columbus Avenues in the South End. Nearly free: $15/12 classes, and no one is turned away for lack of funds.  Contact hviarruel@uses.org to register.  www.uses.org
note: no class Sept 24.

JP Jubilee begins Friday Sept 19 at 10:30 am. Flyer below

picture of singers being conducted on floral background with information about singing class

I was good in school, but bad at two things: penmanship and conduct. Got “Satisfactory” in both subjects–like a gentlewoman’s C.
I spent a lot of time in first grade in the hallway, mostly from talking. “Yes, I know the other children were talking, Liz, but we HEARD you.”

Well, I’m not sure I behave any better as an adult, but I am learning to conduct better. Conduct others, that is. Turns out, it’s a neat trick to be able to telegraph musical ideas in new ways. I’m used to singing, breathing, moving to give signals to colleagues when I’m performing. I’m accustomed to guiding the student(s) with my piano playing. Now, I am actually working with a pianist (a very good one–Megan Henderson is a singer, player and conductor herself) who will follow my gestures and take my tempi, all with a wave of a hand.

I had some great choral conductors in my life. Tom Fettke was my high school chorus teacher at Oakland High School. William F. Russell at Pomona College, Louis Magor in the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Roger Nelson in the Port Costa Players, and Craig Smith at Emmanuel Music in Boston. All these folks LET US SING, they let us BE MUSICAL. You have no idea how many conductors try to control a group of singers and get no music made at all. Others try but are ineffective at keeping a beat or showing what they want.

The leaders who inspire me clearly LOVE their players and the music. I once sat onstage to watch Bernard Haitink conduct the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Brahms 2nd Symphony (We called it the Tweedy symphony after that because of the Dutch spelling of 2nd: Tweede). He looked at his players with such warmth and respect, and wow, did he get a sound from them.

This past weekend I heard and saw Maria Schneider and her Orchestra perform in Boston. This woman attracts the very best jazz players, folks who ordinarily wouldn’t be playing with such a big group–they are all marvelous soloists on their own. And she not only writes such beautiful arrangements, but she clearly lets them do their musical thing. Not just on their solos,  but being musical partners to her tunes all through.

group of singers standing around a guitarist, having fun

So as I begin my new phase of conducting these voice classes of elder adults–away from the piano, just standing and waving and breathing–I am inspired by the marvelous models above. And others. So far, so good. We sang a dress rehearsal at a senior residence this morning, and I really enjoyed just being with the music and with my group. Listening, loving, not worrying about how I was doing, being in the moment.

What a gift.

JP Jubilee in concert tomorrow night, Jamaica Plain branch library, 7:00, free. Very short program.

Platinum singers begin their summer session May 7 at the Harriet Tubman House.

The chorus at the Simon Fireman Home in Randolph is making a couple of field trips in June (one to visit the Platinum Singers, their “cousins” through me, and the other to the “Mother Ship” of Hebrew Senior Life in Roslindale.)  We’re working on “Goin’ to Boston” and other tunes about Time and Place.

picture of Darryl Settles and description of groups to perform--Platinum SIngers and Boston CHildren's Chorus“Come on up, I’ve got a lifeline…”

We’ve been singing the Harriet Tubman song for a few years now–you may have heard it sung by Holly Near with Ronnie Gilbert or by a grade school choir.  It’s a particular favorite of The Platinum Singers–a compelling story of  this strong woman who risked her life over and over to free more slaves.  We meet at the Harriet Tubman House, and there is a large portrait of Miss Tubman in the room where we rehearse every Wednesday.

This Saturday the United South End Settlements–the facility which sponsors our Singers– is honoring a wonderful community leader, and we get to sing with some teens from the Choral Union of the Boston Children’s Chorus.  We all got a lift when we met to rehearse last weekend, watching the kids do their body percussion as they sang, and working on an African folk song all together.

But best of all, I am now in contact with Walter Robinson, who wrote the iconic song which has become a kind of anthem for The Platinum Singers.  He now lives in the Philippines, where he does anti-slavery work.  He wrote about Harriet Tubman:  She literally removes the word “by-stander” and replaces it with “everyone can be an activist for the good and freedom of those oppressed.”

Sometimes I write a thank you letter and hope it reaches the teacher/composer/performer.  Because of one of those letters,  I have a new colleague.  Walter used to live around here, wrote Harriet Tubman in 1977, and has been writing more ever since.

We never know who and what will be that Lifeline, but it helps to pay attention and be ready to go with it.  The Platinum Singers have been Lifelines for each other and for me.