Spring Singing Weekend with Karen Dietz and Brendan Taaffe
Our harmony singing camps are a testament to the extraordinary things ordinary people can achieve when they come together. They are also a lot of fun, and there is nothing quite like singing in harmony with others. People come to our programs with a broad range of musical experience, from novice singers to experienced choir leaders. Wherever you fit in that spectrum, you are encouraged to join us.
During our week-long summer programs, everyone stays together at the retreat center: we eat communally and share a lot of time together. Often we are asked to help with clean up after meals, and see this as another opportunity to work together. Each day, we spend 6 hours singing as a full group, with the leaders taking turns to present material. Each leader brings their individual focus and expertise, making the musical blend of each camp unique. In addition the singing, there is time during the week to walk and play and explore. Evenings are free, but we usually put on a cabaret one night during the week.
Weekend retreats begin on Friday with dinner and run through Sunday lunch. We sing for two hours on Friday evening, about 8 on Saturday, and another two hours on Sunday before heading home.
A word about food:
We believe that good food is an essential part of a good life, and strive to work with venues and caterers that provide healthy, satisfying meals. We are also aware that many people have dietary restrictions. We work to accommodate these needs, but—as balancing the many restrictions of a large group can be a challenge for the kitchen crew—we cannot promise that every need will be met. If you have severe or extensive dietary restrictions, you may wish to bring supplemental food. More importantly, we'd like to think of the meals—indeed, of the whole camp—as a collaboration between us rather than as a service provided to you. If we work together, everyone can get what they need at the table.
Please visit us at facebook, where we have pictures of past programs.
Spring Singing Weekend with Karen Dietz and Brendan Taaffe
Join us for a weekend of rejuvenation and singing on the Isle of Cumbrae, just an hour from Glasgow.
An early member of Libana, Karen now lives in Dunbar, East Lothian, where she leads a plethora of singing groups including Loud & Proud, Scotlandís LGBT choir, and community choirs in Dunbar and North Berwick. Karen brings a diverse repertoire, years of leading people in song, and an all-around fabby personality. Based in the US, Brendan's song-leading workshops are popular in the UK for their combination of high-energy American harmony, the lush harmonies of his original compositions, and charismatic teaching. Old friends, this will be the first time that Brendan and Karen have led a weekend together, so please join us for this little piece of history.
The weekend will be held at The College of the Holy Spirit on Cumbrae in the Clyde. An ecumenical spiritual retreat, the centre will offer us a peaceful retreat from the world and a chance to make music together. For more about the venue, you can visit their website at www.island-retreats.org.
The cost of the weekend, including full board, is £180/ £155 for low-income singers. Sorry, but this program is full and registration is now closed.
Summer Singing Weekend in the Northeast Kingdom with Sheasby Matiure and Brendan Taaffe
Join us for a chance to dig deeply into the choral traditions of Zimbabwe. Sheasby Matiure will be visiting the U.S. for the first time in a number of years and will bring with him his wealth of knowledge about Zimbabwe's makwayera tradition. Sheasby grew up near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second major city, and was a protégé of Dumisani Maraire at Kwanangoma College. Later Sheasby became the first director of the National Dance Company of Zimbabwe and studied at Indiana University as a Fulbright Scholar. He is a master of the mbira nyunga nyunga as well as the marimba, and doesn't like it when it gets too cold.
Brendan will fill out the weekend with a wealth of traditional American songs and original compositions.
Sky Meadow is a peaceful retreat nestled in the hills of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. It operates primarily as a Buddhist retreat, so the accommodations are simple but comfortable. Unlike recent Turtle Dove events, this weekend won't be catered. We'll work together in the kitchen to create our own meals, giving us another chance to create community.
The cost of the weekend, including room and board, is $265. To register, please please fill out a registration form.
Summer Singing Week in Languedoc, France with Kate Howard, Brendan Taaffe, and traditional Occitan singers (most likely Karine Berny)
Come spend a week with us at La Maison Verte, a converted winemaker's chatêau in Roujan, a charming village in the Languedoc. We'll sing in a converted barn, savor lazy afternoons after lunch by the saltwater pool and orange trees in the garden, and enjoy the quirky and comfortable rooms of the rambling 19th century mansion. This year, the week will again be catered by Ken and Allison, whose food is somewhat legendary in the history of Turtle Dove. During the week, we will have two singing sessions a day, starting at 9:00 each morning with warm-ups. Evenings will be free, and we will take an afternoon mid-week to go exploring.
Working with Kate is a joyful and inspiring experience: with a deep command of multiple singing styles and a truly incredible voice, she'll take us on a journey that could go anywhere in the world. Brendan will dig deep into the riches of American harmony: expect high-energy gospel, original compositions, and his trademark lush harmonies. In addition, we will spend a number of sessions with traditional Occitan ballad singers. Occitan culture, an old language that sounds similar to Catalan, was suppressed by the French monarchy but managed to hold on in Languedoc and Provence. Karine, one of the singers we hope to be working with, is a member of a group called La Mal Coiffée. Search for them on youtube to get an idea of what these songs sound like.
La Maison Verte is a beautiful 19th century wine-maker's mansion in the village of Roujan, not far from Béziers. There are a number of airports nearby (Béziers, Montpellier, Carcassone, Nîmes, and Perpignan). Please contact us with any questions about travel. You can also visit their website at: www.lamaisonverte.co.uk
The cost of the week, including room and board, is €850/ $1150. If you wish to guarantee yourself a single room, you can do so for €975/ $1400. Sorry, but this program is full and registration is now closed.
Singing Workshop with John Harrison and Brendan Taaffe
Their first Upper Valley workshop was a big success, so John and Brendan are back for more! Long-time friends, John and Brendan have taught together many times, and their styles and repertoire complement each other well. Together they will explore traditional American harmonyógospel, shape note hymns, Appalachian ballads—as well as offering up some original works. There may also be some Zimbabwean pieces from Brendan's song collecting trip there. John directs the Montpelier Community Gospel Choir and is a popular singing leader at workshops throughout New England. Brendan directs the Bright Wings Chorus, and travels frequently to Europe to lead workshops there. His original work, based on early American styles, is popular with choirs in the U.K., New Zealand, and America. The songs are known for their lush harmonies and sense of the sacred.
The workshop is open to all interested singers and costs $45 for the day. Lunch is not included in the price.
To register, send a check to (please include your contact information):
© Brendan Taaffe, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.