Summer Singing Week in Languedoc, France
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.
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.
Winter Singing Weekend in the Northeast Kingdom with Val Mindel and Brendan Taaffe
Join us in the peace of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom for a weekend of song and rejuvenation before the craziness of the holiday season. Val, known around the country for her teaching and command of the material, will lead us deep into the hows and whys of old-time and early country harmony. Brendan will bring a selection of his original works, popular with singing groups throughout America and the U.K., and will be just recently returned from a second song-collecting trip to Zimbabwe, surely with some new treasures to share.
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 $285. This weekend is limited to 20 people. To register, please fill out a registration form and send a deposit of $125 to Turtle Dove, 118 Prospect St. #2, Brattleboro, VT 05301.
Youth Harmony Weekend with John Harrison, Suzannah Park, and Brendan Taaffe
Calling all teen (and recent-teen) singers for a weekend of peace, love, and harmony. We'll make our meals together, dance in the morning, and dig deep into some great music with our dynamic trio of leaders. John Harrison, director of the Montpelier Community Gospel Choir and long-time popular leader with Village Harmony, will bring some rockin' gospel and originals. The inimitable Suzannah Park will bring her infectious energy, traditional Appalachian songs and probably her cloggin' shoes. Brendan will throw in some originals that make you cry in the best way and will be just recently returned from a song-collecting trip in Zimbabwe, surely with some treasures to share.
Woolman Hill is a Quaker retreat center in Deerfield, Massachusetts, convenient to rte. 91 but secluded in 110 acres of meadows and woods. It is founded on the Quaker belief that there is that of God in every person, and welcomes all who wish to nurture the spirit within and without. We think that singing together will definitely nurture our spirits and be a lot of fun.
The cost of the weekend is $255 and is open to high school and college-aged singers. To register, please fill out a registration form and send a deposit of $125 to Turtle Dove, 118 Prospect St. #2, Brattleboro, VT 05301.
Singing in Paradise: A Winter Week in Hawaii with Moira Smiley and Brendan Taaffe
A week in Hawaii in February, staying at a yoga center that's part of an organic ginger farm, and singing with Moira and Brendan? I mean, really, what more is there to say?
Moira Smiley has one of the most agile voices you'll encounter—rare for any musician, Moira has managed to master multiple styles of music—Balkan, Appalachian, Irish and more. Even rarer, she is as adept at teaching as she is at performing, able to explain the nuances of these different styles in a way that makes it fun to develop your own skills. Moira will likely focus on Eastern European material. Brendan will bring his lush originals, songs from Zimbabwe and Polynesia, and his quiet grace as a leader. In addition, we are hoping to spend some time with local Hawaiian singers and, of course, we'll go to the beach.
The cost of the week, including room and board, is $1200. Hilo is the closest airport to the retreat center: from there you can take a shuttle to Pahoa, where we will meet you and bring you to the retreat center. To register, please fill out a registration form and send a deposit of $125 to Turtle Dove, 118 Prospect St. #2, Brattleboro, VT 05301.
Summer Singing Week in England with Sian Croose, Chartwell Dutiro, and Brendan Taaffe
Join us in the temenos of Avalon for an uplifting week of song with Sian, Chartwell, and Brendan.
Sian is one of England's most loved singing leaders and is one of those people who lights up a room. She directs Big Sky, a choir based in Norwich, and is a co-founder of The Voice Project, an open-access singing project that promotes new and imaginative choral works. Chartwell grew up in rural Zimbabwe and started playing the mbira when he was four years old. Now living in Devon, Chartwell will bring the traditional songs of his youth to the group. A frequent visitor to the U.K., Brendan will bring a selection of traditional American gems and lush originals.
EarthSpirit is a beautiful retreat centre five miles outside of Glastonbury, in scenic Somerset. The centre lies between two nature reserves and a two minute walk from St. Andrew's church, which has a 1,700 year old yew tree in the cemetery. The centre is based around a converted long barn, with oak timbers and stone walls. The feeling is medieval but with modern comforts like under-floor heating and a large woodstove. The high roof and skylights create a light, airy atmosphere.
The price for this week will be announced by January, 2015.
© Brendan Taaffe, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.