It’s that time of year again! The Grand Singers begin to gather for the holiday concert, returning to Grand from dozens of directions with many stories to tell. Grand Singers is a community. It is a gathering of 100 or more people who love music and enjoy making music together.
Those of us who were going to be in town in late August this year started to look forward to seeing each other again at Music Pickup - this year on August 23rd in the Sonoran Plaza Mesquite Room. Some are seeing each other for the first time since the spring concert in April. Others are relearning names that go with familiar faces. It is like a giant family reunion, though not everybody shows up at the same time!
Part way into the room we are met by two of the warmest, friendliest people on earth – the new Co-Presidents of the Grand Singers Council, Kathy Head and Norma Lucas. And they seem to set the example for the rest. Soon there are conversations all over the room – How are you? How was your summer? Where did you go? How long were you gone? Smiles keep getting wider; handshakes turn to hugs. And the Grand Singers are assembling once again!
Walking into the Mesquite Room, it is so apparent how much planning and preparation is involved. Several long tables are set up as three sides of a rectangle. There are large signs at each station describing what the person sitting behind the sign is ready to help with: NEW TO GRAND SINGERS, REGISTERED BUT HAVEN’T PAID, PAID ON-LINE, BUT NO RECEIPT, NEED HELP WITH SIGN-UP, etc.
Anne Martin heads up the first station, ready to help new people and confused-looking people. She has a large decorated bowl of candies, with a sign that said “You’ve hit the bullseye!” Webmaster extraordinaire Kris Olson and flutist extraordinaire Tammy Gordon sit next to Anne with their laptops, overhear the issues and are ready to intervene and help via the website. Thanks to Kris’ efforts, with fewer and fewer exceptions, we are all registering and paying via the Music Club website.
Next, we have the library team, led by the smiling Joanne Langer, Shirley Stark and Natalie Morrison, ready to take your check or payment receipt and hand you the music. There are ten songs for the chorus and an additional five for the Chorale. We see many old favorites and some that
sound new to us: “Swingin' Saint Nick?” “Cold Snap?” We look forward to learning the new music each season and to singing with each other again.
Our wonderful and beloved Director, Pamela Weir, gives a lot of thought to selecting the music each year – a time-consuming process. She then orders the sheet music and demo mp3 files from the publishers. The cost to each singer is quite modest.
The Chorale is an auditioned subgroup that, at full strength, has 32 members (eight quartets.) They rehearse separately prior to the arrival of the full chorus each Wednesday afternoon, and then rehearse with the full chorus. As an auditioned group, the Chorale consists of some of the best voices among us. Many of us like to sit near a Chorale member during our rehearsals to help us find our notes.
Across the room from the library team sit Alita Basso and Linda Sheehan, members of the Grand Singers Council, with our precious CDs and the complete rehearsal schedule for the Holiday concert. Each member of the Chorale receives a third CD with the five additional songs that the Chorale will sing during the concert. We also receive instructional notes for each song, aptly called “Pamela’s Music Markings.”
Rehearsals begin this year on September 6. Each Wednesday thereafter, through October 11, more “snow birds” return to the “nest” and join in. New people may also decide to join during this time period. After the October 11 cut off, “would be singers” are asked to wait until the spring concert. By that point, too, Grand Singers has had five or six rehearsals – both sectionals and combined - and the sound coming from the full chorus is already astounding.
It is such a joy to be part of something as wonderful as the Grand Singers!