Dear Friends and Families of the SoHarmoniums and the SoHo Voce.
Here’s our second edition of SoHo Notes, a biannual series so you know what we’re up to. Each issue includes announcements, photos and news and insights about the musical world of interest.
Our next concert, Saturday, May 14, 8:30pm at our Merkin Home, is going to be a PIP! There will be at least three big surprises for the audience and by the time we get there, perhaps even more. The repertoire, with just one exception, was voted on by the full choir last semester -- choosing eight of our most favorite songs that we’ve sung starting in 2006. So you’re going to hear some old friends as well as the best of the best. Alas, for fans of the kazoo songs, they did not make the cut. But wait! There’s more: we’re throwing a post-concert birthday party at nearby AG Kitchen - wines, beer and delicious (we tasted them all, did some serious extensive research on this…) hors d’oeuvres. To buy tickets for both events, go to our website, Easy as pie.
Ok, what have we been doing?
The real question is --What haven’t we been doing?
First there was the introduction of our NEW LOGO. (Ok, ok, here it is again, but we can’t help bragging.)
Then we sang, for the second time, at CARNEGIE HALL
on April 6, again as a guest choir of Japanese American Lions Club Charities. When we were rehearsing on that golden stage, Elizabeth stopped us to make a correction, and for at least 2-3 magical seconds, our last notes clearly, purely reverberated back and back through this magnificent 2,804 seat space. It was as if the ghosts of the 1891 Hall were singing with us. Just astounding. We sang Gloria (Gjeilo), Sing Me To Heaven (Gawthrop) and Chindia (Pascanu). The acoustics of a happy clappy audience were pretty swell too.
April 16, twenty-two of us performed at the Syracuse University Women’s Choir’s 13th Annual Invitational Festival. With our own Elizabeth Nunez, we sang the dynamite My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord (arranged by Dilworth) and later under the baton of renowned guest conductor, Vance George, we joined with four other women’s choirs and an all women’s orchestra to sing Sicut Erat (Porpora), Lift Thine Eyes (Mendelssohn), Cantique de Jean Racine (Faure) and Walk in Jerusalem (a spiritual also arranged by Dilworth). Back on the bus for a jolly winey ride home. What fun!
Oops! I can’t tell you that because that’s one of the concert surprises. But it is going to be TERRIFIC.
Home Sweet Home
At one early rehearsal Elizabeth asked each singer where was “home”. Responses began with naming places (for me, Evanston, Illinois) but by the time we got to the last batch of singers, it had become an idea or concept or mood. Here’s a sample summary:
USA Places: California, Illinois, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, New York, Mississippi, Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida.
World Places: Sweden, Argentina, Tbilisi, Georgia, Canada, Japan, Kuala Lumpur, France, Bogotá, Colombia, Iceland.
Places of the Heart: A Moving Body of Water, Open Sky, YPC (Young People’s Chorus of NYC), “Here” (our SoHo rehearsal loft), The Canadian Rockies, Florence, Italy (one chorister visited there for the first time and knew instantly that this was her real home, just waiting for her).
Some killjoy reports now inform us that listening to Mozart will NOT make your baby (or you) any smarter than the little darling in the next cradle whose parents are tone deaf. However his glorious music may at least temporarily soothe the savage beast which lurks and prowls in every bone-weary new parent.
Mother Daughter Singers
So far, we have had six Mother-Daughter singing pairs: three currently. Very sweet for all. Can you find them on stage?
Home for this wonderful choir is singing to our audiences.
We sing for joy and inspiration, but even more, we sing for the love of sharing that human beauty and joy. See you at our 10th Anniversary Concert at Merkin Hall, 8:30pm on May 14th and at our birthday party afterwards.THANKS and see you soon,
Deborah McManus, Founder
Dear Friends and Families of the SoHarmoniums and SoHo Voces,
Welcome to SoHo Notes, our brand new newsletter! Typically, you’ll find information about our concerts and other appearances, relevant articles or ideas as well as a profile of a SoHarmonium (or maybe one day, a longtime audience member). This issue features Elizabeth Nunez, our fabulous founding Conductor along with some exciting news. Enjoy!
Ring in the New Year
Our upcoming December 16th concert theme is Ring in the New….and features almost all new music, but I bet you’ll remember three we’ve sung before: Water Under Snow is Weary, White Christmas and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Ok, ok, it’s only an overnight, but even so…The SoHarmoniums have been invited to perform at the 13th Annual Women’s Choir Festival at Syracuse University on April 16, 2016. There will be pairs of women’s adult, collegiate and high school choirs, accompanied by a women’s orchestra. Each of the six groups will sing one selection with their own conductor - ours will be the always rip-rousing My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord. Then we will all sing together under the baton of the renowned conductor Vance George.
Interview: Elizabeth Nunez
Now, to Elizabeth. Who is perfect. Our gifted, much-loved conductor and musical director, Elizabeth McKinney Nunez, was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, went to college in Tennessee and earned her Masters at Oklahoma State which is where she met Francisco Nunez who was there as a guest composer and resident for the weekend. His sherpa for the visit was Elizabeth, who was by then was an assistant conductor to a children’s choir. In due course, he called her from NYC offering a job at the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, talking her into doubling her workload so as to graduate early. In the summer of 2004, she received her advanced degree and the next day packed her van and moved to New York. Francisco and Elizabeth married on October 21, 2006. They live on the Upper West Side with their children, Sebastian, 7 and Sabrina, 3 and their two Italian greyhounds, Coda and Dixie.
Q When did you know you wanted to become a conductor?
A professor asked me, at all of age 19, if i wanted to help with the local children’s choir. She gave me a lot of time in front of the children, teaching and conducting. I found I liked being part of a community, liked bringing people together. That’s when I decided.
Q Any regrets?
Q How do you define talent?
It’s a natural ability augmented by hard work and training.
Q Is there music in everyone?
Yes. There’s no society on earth that doesn’t have some form of music. I believe everyone can be taught to sing with practice and some professional training and tips.
Q In just a few words, describe your growing up years.
Simple, full of love. It was a conservative family where faith was the driving force always. My family laughs very easily.
Q Describe your life today.
Complex, wonderful. I have a completely crazy, perfect life. Always high energy. We’re a loud family, full of opinions. Four strong personalities.
Q Describe what you would like your life to become.
I think we’re there. We’re good: I’m very happy with what is.
Q What is your favorite word?
Joy. Or any positive, happy words.
Q What is your least favorite word?
Q What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Connecting with others.
Q What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Q What is your favorite sound or noise?
My family laughing.
Q What is your least favorite sound or noise?
Q What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Probably advertising or marketing, or better, event planning. I like projects with lots of moving parts. I like puzzles to solve.
Q What profession would you not like to do?
Anything with math!
Q If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Your family is doing great.
(with thanks to Bernard Pivot and Robert Lipton for the purloined questions)
A Few More Thoughts...
We’re now gearing up for our grand FETE on May 14, 2016, to celebrate our tenth anniversary. By the end of our very first semester, we grew from six singers to fifteen and dared to present our first concert -- of course, at the loft : we were simply too timid to rent a space. Many husbands attended (the smart ones still do).
And, we have recently become a 501(c)(3). Check out our new online Donate Page on our website and you’ll see how easy it is to give in small and large ways. The dues for our singers are $575 a year and about a fourth now receive some form of subsidy. If you would like to contribute to our General Scholarship Fund or even to support a specific singer that would be lovely, and of course contributions to our General Operating Fund are also happily accepted. Cheer on New York’s Own Women’s Choir (hey, i didn’t name us that, the Alice Tully folks did!). Even better, become one of our Founding Fans with a $575 contribution! To thank you for that, we are initiating an annual pour at the loft where you will be specially feted and serenaded, and your name will be celebrated in our Concert program.
And by the way, did you know….
None of The Beatles could read music!
Your heartbeat changes and mimics the music you listen to (sweet).
The song Jingle Bells was originally written for Thanksgiving (go figure….)
We are so fortunate in our friends and families who enjoy and celebrate our music. Our singers come from many varied backgrounds and persuasions, but, at our very hearts’ home, we all simply love to sing to you, our community, for the binding experience of shared musical joy.
Thanks and welcome,
Deborah McManus, Founder
OK, The SoHarmoniums, New York’s OWN Women’s Choir, just sang for 20-some glorious minutes, on Carnegie Hall's hallowed stage. The acoustics were such that it seemed almost as if the Hall was singing with us - truly! And, by the way, we got a standing ovation! An enormous thrill for us, and we hope for all who came to hear us that magical evening.
Next, on to Merkin for our May 19th Spring Concert. Come one, come all!
WE’RE PERFORMING WHERE?????? Yup, the rumors are all true - it’s CARNEGIE HALL!
The SoHarmoniums will be singing four numbers (the last is a rousing, knock-your-socks-off Gospel song) on that venerable stage this Wednesday, March 11th, 8pm. It’s a benefit, which means you win too since all the seats are free. But we’ve heard the 2,804 seat Hall is nearly sold out -honest!- so check first with the box office. We’re all hoping you will come to cheer on New York City’s own Women’s Choir. (oh, did i mention that it was at Carnegie Hall!!!!!?)