|Spirit's Call Choir - Summer 2001 Newsletter|
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Greetings to all!
Hope everyone had a good summer - filled with light & joy & expansion & growth & SOUND!!!! The sounds of the birds & the wind & the waves & the earth & the sound of your own heartbeat & your own VOICE!!! Perhaps singing along with that interesting experiment - our Spirit's Call song tape - harmonizing in your own special way!
And of course - the sound of your shadow - expressing itself in whatever way is perfect for the shifting sands of your soul here now.
WHEW!! "nuff of this waxing on - now to BUSINESS!!!
As many of you know, I (Margaret T.!) went to a singing workshop in July at Hollyhock - a beautiful conference/retreat center on Cortes Island off the coast of B.C. The workshop was "Singing for the Joy" with Ann Mortifee & Shivon Robinsong. It was spectacular!!!! Our morning "warm up" started each day with toning - then a Qi Gong exercise Ann set to words & music - then we belted out a song to the rising sun! We had amazing sharing circles and sang African chants and other beautiful songs. We learned to sing from our "beautiful bellies" and find our vocal "range" and "sweet spot". We sang in 4 part harmony with effortless and gay abandon!!!
The workshop inspired in me a sense of infinite possibility and vision for the Spirit's Call choir. I'm looking forward to bringing this to our choir when we start to meet again.
There were several other exciting (to ME, at least!) and unexpected offshoots of the Hollyhock experience as well. Shivon Robinsong (who was a co-founder of Hollyhock when it started 19 years ago and remains centrally involved today) started the "Gettin' Higher Choir" in Victoria a few years ago. It started the way our Spirit's Call choir did - with people singing in Shivon's home for expression, joy and community. The group was composed primarily of people who always had thought/been told that they "couldn't sing" or "weren't musical" - as Shivon herself had been told. The non-audition Gettin' Higher Choir now has 200 members, has practice nights 3 times a week (members choose which night/how often they wish to participate), performs to sell-out houses and has recorded several CD's!!!
Equally exciting to me is that the Gettin' Higher Choir has used the proceeds of its endeavors to support international development projects. I think they also make contributions when they come to the practice nights. There is an amazing story and video of how they used money generated by the choir to build a school in an African village that had been leveled by war. I can tell you more about all that in person!!!
This development aspect of the Gettin' Higher Choir had profound meaning for me on many levels. Spirit's call co-founder Merv Campone always had a dream for Spirit's Call to have a charitable component that would raise funds for sustainable development projects. Though we didn't get that part established before Merv's passing in December of 2000, we still feel his support for Spirit's Call activity & I sense that he is REALLY smiling about the possibility of our choir being a vehicle through which Spirit's Call might support development projects!!!
As you may know, Spirit's Call co-founders Dorothy Becker and Merv Campone originally met each other when they both were working on the filming of development projects for Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR). They saw first-hand how effectively CLWR projects contribute to SUSTAINABLE communities. Might the Spirit's Call Choir wish to follow the example of the Gettin' Higher Choir and embrace the cause of supporting sustainable international development as a broader vision for our efforts? If so, might we consider collecting loonie/toonie donations at each practice and then making an annual contribution to CLWR from Spirit's Call? Previous Spirits Call contact with CLWR indicates we likely could trust our contribution would be used with integrity for genuinely sustainable development projects. We also could find out more about CLWR's work and designate specific project(s) we wish to support . . .
And now - back to the SINGING part of the choir! I have a few more schemes to propose!!! I realized at Hollyhock that moving toward singing in parts - some higher and some lower (as we intuitively already have begun to do!) could be an important next development for us at this stage. I think this could really help to support voices in ALL ranges to find their full joyful expression!
So - my ever-networking mind came up with schemes to help us harmonize even more at our gatherings!!! For immediate movement toward this goal, I connected with my former colleague and good friend, Lyle Eide. Lyle was the Director of the Counselling Service for many years and we had GREAT singing times in those days!!! (Knowing my love of SINGING from Counselling Service gatherings, Lyle and his wife Susan brought a busload of holiday songsters for a surprise carol SINGING stop at our home to welcome Minna to the world - the week after she was born on December 12, 1983! More in person sometime on that amazing event!!)
Anyway - Lyle recently has "retired" from U of M. He is now interested in doing creative projects that grab his fancy! Among Lyle's many talents, he happens to be a gifted musician and highly experienced CHOIR DIRECTOR!! By "coincidence" (!), one of Lyle's many community contributions was his involvement as director of the choir at Epiphany LUTHERAN church - for MANY years! Through his extensive Lutheran church connections, he also knew of Merv and Dorothy and is well aware of the work of CLWR.
So - I have given Lyle the Spirit's Call Choir "pitch" (ahem!!!) and am luring him into our realm as I write this!!! Lyle has said that he would be willing to meet with us and experiment with helping us sing different melodies in different ranges - in harmony together - i.e. singing in parts - IF we want him to do that!!! A practical question now is whether we want to get together in person first to explore our collective feeling about Lyle joining us - or whether we just want to "go for it" and invite Lyle to our next gathering and try it out???
In addition to all of this, my enthusiasm at Hollyhock led to conversations with Ann and Shivon about the possibility of them coming to Winnipeg to do a workshop here! Ann said she is not taking on any new commitments right now. Her first priority is doing whatever is needed to stage her 2 hour "opera" about South Africa, where she was born. "When the Rains Come" is a major life work of Ann's and a passionate project right now. It has recently received great critical acclaim and support to be presented in New York as an important new musical for next year. Another "coincidence" - Spirit's Call musician Ed Henderson has worked often with Ann over the years and has been centrally involved working with her on "When the Rains Come" - doing the musical arranging for the back-up accompaniment to her original songs! - www.annmortifee.com
However, as luck would have it, Shivon's schedule is more open! She said she would really like to come to Winnipeg to do a workshop with Spirit's Call and could be available sometime next year! - www.shivon.com
As indicated already, Shivon has an AMAZING gift in helping people to sing in parts with EASE & FUN!!! It turns out she is from Winnipeg originally, so others who know her here might well be interested too. I'm also talking with her about come kind of collaboration between Hollyhock and Spirit's Call. Shivon suggested Hollyhock could contribute its mailing list from this area, for example. So a singing workshop with Shivon here in Winnipeg seems like a viable and exciting possibility!
WHEN this singing workshop might happen deserves careful consideration. Many Spirit's Call folks are planning and saving for the exciting opportunity of the Geotran Gems I and II courses to be offered in Winnipeg on 2 consecutive weekends - June 7-9 and 14-16, 2002. Also, Carolyn McDade MIGHT be coming here next March - I'm checking that out now. Other than this, March or October seem like possible times for a workshop with Shivon, in Spirit's Call's and Shivon's schedules. Please see the questions at the end of this newsletter for a way to make your preferences known regarding this possibility.
All of the "stuff" described here has me VERY excited about starting up the fall season of our Spirit's Call Choir with great vigor and vitality!!! So - I am proposing the next 3 dates when our merry band could meet. I realize some are still away and doing lake adventures etc. at the beginning of the fall. However, one of our "norms" is that folks come when they can and the choir is meant to be an enhancement to our lives rather than a draggy obligation!!! So - I'll propose the dates I was considering and see what fits:
Over the summer a number of new folks have expressed interest in joining our "choir"! Given that our vision involves starting to sing from a belief of NOT being gifted in this realm, some have shown TENTATIVE interest! AND - it is beautiful that others are considering taking this leap! So - if there are people you know who might be interested in joining our merry "band", I'm wondering if we want to just open things up and invite like-minded new folks to join us if they're interested.
Given that "word of mouth" likely would be the way potential new songsters would hear about our escapades, it's probable that like-minded souls would be attracted to our gatherings. I thought our first meeting might be a bit longer to give time for an opening circle to check-in about how we've all been doing. That also would be a good time to introduce new folks.
As the generator of the above schemes, and having had the intention of a CO-created choir, I've asked for feedback from choir members about their thoughts/felings/preferences about the ideas proposed here. Replies were much appreciated and very helpful in planning.
Preliminary feedback from the choir about some of the above ideas follows here:
Looking forward to getting your responses about a workshop with Shivon and seeing and HEARING us all together again soon!