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 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 is £675/ $1125. Single rooms for £800/$1350. To register, please fill out a registration form and send a deposit.
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. Val, known around the country for her teaching and deep command traditional American harmony styles, will lead us deep into the hows and whys of old-time and early country harmony. Brendan will complement Val’s repertoire with some jubilee gospel selections from the recent Waxwing Four recording and will bring a selection of his original works.
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. We'll work together in the kitchen to create our own meals, giving us another chance to create community. Accommodation at Sky Meadow is in four-bed bunk rooms. There aren’t special rooms for couples.
The cost of the weekend, including room and board, is $285. This weekend is limited to 18 people.
Singing in Paradise: A Winter Week in Costa Rica with Dr. Kathy Bullock and Brendan Taaffe
Start your year off in style by spending a week singing with Kathy and Brendan on Costa Rica! We’ll be staying at a lovely retreat center just a short walk away from the white sand beaches of the Caribbean coast.
Kathy Bullock is an inspiring singing leader who will lift up hearts with her gospel music and abundant love. Brendan will bring his lush originals, songs from Zimbabwe and Polynesia, and traditional American quartet harmony. We’ll spend about six hours singing each day, which will leave plenty of time for wandering along the beach and looking for the white-faced monkeys. If possible, we will try to connect with local musicians.
The cost of the week, including room and board, is $1200. This includes room and board at the retreat center as well as transportation from the San José airport. Expect to share a room with one or two other people.
© Brendan Taaffe, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.