Greetings Avanti, on this warm and sunny February day! In Prelude II, the kids and I talked about how this is a special year in which February “gets an extra day added on”.  Hey, sometimes even the planet Earth needs a little catch up time! In that spirit, there is no new Musicianship assignment this week. If you need a “leap week” to catch up on your assignments, you have been so granted.  

Elena and I are very proud of your excellent progress with your repertoire!  When you are all present, healthy, and singing together, your sound is quite wonderful.  As Elena said, now is the time to clean up any remaining fuzzy notes and rhythms – all those tiny errors add up quickly!  Your personal attention to detail is what pulls us into focus.  


Action Items

  • SRF: Complete this week’s assignment.
  • Musicianship:  No at-home assignment this week!  If you are all caught up – you have the week off!  If you need to catch up, this is your week to do so.  Go back through the past Blogs to read what assignments you are missing.
  • Messe Breve: Continue Memorization of Kyrie and Gloria, start Memorization for Sanctus.
  • Will There Really Be A `Morning”?  FULL MEMORIZATION CHECK NEXT REHEARSAL.  
  • El Cielo, Ol Time Religion, Will There Really Be a “Morning”?:  We now have rehearsal tracks provided by Dr. Andrea Ramsey, with whom you will be working in NYC.  These tracks will sound a bit different than what you are used to; tempo, interpretation, etc., and they are in the voice of an (I think) electronic counter-tenor.  This is not an unusual learning circumstance for musicians…we always endeavor to be flexible! (A true sign of strength.)
  • Songs for the People:  Listen to the newly provided rehearsal track (you may use your voice part, or simply use “Balanced Voices” to get an overall sense of the piece) at least FOUR TIMES before the next rehearsal.  We will begin learning this piece next week!
  • Avanti Gala Singers Only:  All Gala music should be Memorized by this Monday’s rehearsal, March 2nd.  *See below for more details!


Ideas and Reference

Next week we will begin Songs for the People, by Dr. Andrea Ramsey.  The text Dr. Ramsey used to set her music is by poet Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.  Read the excerpt below from The Poetry Foundation. Consider the contributions and achievements of Frances Harper; especially in a time when people of her race and gender experienced such devastating levels of hardship.  

As artists, we have the unique privilege of breathing new life into this poet’s words!  We connect her poetic creation to modern people!

Engraved portrait of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper from The Underground Railroad by William Still. (Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)


Born in Baltimore, poet, fiction writer, journalist, and activist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was the only child of free African American parents. She was raised by her aunt and uncle after her mother died when Frances was three years old. She attended the Academy for Negro Youth, a school run by her uncle, until the age of 13, and then found domestic work in a Quaker household, where she had access to a wide range of literature. After teaching for two years in Ohio and Pennsylvania, she embarked on a career as a traveling speaker on the abolitionist circuit. She helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad and wrote frequently for anti-slavery newspapers, earning her a reputation as the mother of African American journalism.

She married Fenton Harper in 1860. He brought to the marriage three children of his own, and together they had a daughter. When her husband died in 1864, Harper continued to support her family though speaking engagements. During Reconstruction she was an activist for civil rights, women’s rights, and educational opportunities for all. She was superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women’s Christian Temperance Union, co-founder and vice president of the National Association of Colored Women, and a member of the American Women’s Suffrage Association. Harper was also the director of the American Association of Colored Youth.


And here is her poem, in its’ entirety:

“Songs For The People”

Let me make the songs for the people,

   Songs for the old and young;

Songs to stir like a battle-cry

   Wherever they are sung.


Not for the clashing of sabres,

   For carnage nor for strife;

But songs to thrill the hearts of men

   With more abundant life.


Let me make the songs for the weary,

   Amid life’s fever and fret,

Till hearts shall relax their tension,

   And careworn brows forget.


Let me sing for little children,

   Before their footsteps stray,

Sweet anthems of love and duty,

   To float o’er life’s highway.


I would sing for the poor and aged,

   When shadows dim their sight;

Of the bright and restful mansions,

   Where there shall be no night.


Our world, so worn and weary,

   Needs music, pure and strong,

To hush the jangle and discords

   Of sorrow, pain, and wrong.


Music to soothe all its sorrow,

   Till war and crime shall cease; 

And the hearts of men grown tender

   Girdle the world with peace.



Here are the newly provided rehearsal tracks:

Songs For The People, Balanced Voices

Songs For The People, Alto

Songs For The People, Sop 2

Songs For The People, Sop 1

Ol Time Religion, Balanced Voices

Ol Time Religion, Accompaniment Only

Ol Time Religion, Sop 1

Ol Time Religion, Sop 2

Ol Time Religion, Alto

Will There Really Be a “Morning”? Balanced Voices

Will There Really Be a “Morning”? Accompaniment Only

Will There Really Be a “Morning”? Sop 1

Will There Really Be a “Morning”? Sop 2 (Alto)

El Cielo, Balanced Voices

El Cielo, Accompaniment Only

El Cielo, Sop 1

El Cielo, Sop 2

El Cielo, Alto


*Avanti Gala Singers:  You will be receiving an email with details about dress for the Gala, so please be on the lookout for that!   

The single most important thing to remember about Musical Theater repertoire is that it TELLS A STORY.  So who is the story teller in this scenario?? YOU ARE! Your parents (who hopefully will be in the audience) have probably read to you and told you stories your whole life….well now IT IS YOUR TURN.  Do whatever you must to get that music learned, and under your belt, (LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN TO THE REH TRACKS) and then let yourself tell THEM the story. Animate your face, open your eyes WIDE, let your body move to the beat and….. DON’T BE INTIMIDATED!  Yes, you are surrounded by older, more advanced singers but if you have done your work, then you absolutely belong there!  Stand tall, take up your space in the room, breath deeply, and sing like I know you can.  


February 29, 2020

Avanti Blog #7, February 26th, 2020

Greetings Avanti, on this warm and sunny February day! In Prelude II, the kids and I talked about how this is a special year in which February “gets an extra day added on”.  Hey, sometimes even the planet Earth needs a little catch up time! In that spirit, there is no new Musicianship assignment this week. If you need a […]
February 21, 2020

Gala Avanti Rehearsal Tracks

Side By Side SOP Side By Side ALTO (to m.160) Side By Side ALTO (m.161-end) Bridge Over Troubled Water SOP Bridge Over Troubled Water ALTO Ease On Down The Road SOP Ease On Down The Road ALTO
February 14, 2020

Avanti Blog #6, February 12th, 2020

“Oh My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose That’s Newly Sprung In June…”   Happy Valentine’s Day, Avanti!  We had another great rehearsal this week.  We are in that exciting part of the process where many of the notes and rhythms are “under our belts” and the music is starting to really shine through.  During February Break, rest, relax, […]
February 8, 2020

Vocalise Blog: February 3 – 6, 2020

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT SUNDAY REHEARSAL 2/9/20: We are at the usual rehearsal space from 3:30 to 7 pm. Please, dress in Cantabile black T-shirt and something like stretchy jeans or yoga pants on the bottom. Dark colors preferred. Vocalise SSA Blog : 2/3/20 – 2/6/20 Your most important action item is to have We Are the Garden fully memorized. REPERTOIRE […]
February 8, 2020

Avanti Blog #5, February 5th, 2020

Avanti Blog #5 Thank you for your excellent work this week, Avanti!  We had a very productive rehearsal which always makes your conductor smile.  🙂   I know many of us are fighting off various sicknesses, so please be good to yourself!  Your most important assignment — Stay Healthy!  Elena’s tips for the Healthy Singer: Rest — sleep no less than […]
February 1, 2020

Avanti Blog #4, January 29th, 2020

Avanti Blog #4, January 29th, 2020 Wow, it’s the last day of January!  Where does the time go?? We’ve been doing great work this month…for February, let’s take a minute to check in with ourselves about our goals and our habits and think about where we’d like to be in May!   Action Items Let’s get Organized!  *See explanation below.*   🙂 […]
January 25, 2020

Avanti Blog #3, January 22, 2020

Hi Avanti, great work at rehearsal!  Here is this week’s Blog, complied by Andy, Elena and Namrata. Have a great weekend and happy practicing.   Action Items   Practicing at home: Routine and Ritual Make sure to establish a practicing routine that is well planned and enjoyed. Yoga, meditation and vocal warm-ups should be practiced daily, even if only 5-10 […]
December 7, 2019

December 5, 2019/Concert Blog