Singing Retreats

Since 2007, Turtle Dove has been offering singing retreats throughout Europe and North America. Known for creating a safe and welcoming space for every voice, each Turtle Dove workshop brings together compelling leaders with different repertoire and a shared passion for community singing.

Upcoming retreats

July 6-13, 2019 Ali Burns, John Harrison, and Brendan Taaffe
at Hallelujah Farm, West Chesterfield, NH
Register here.

In 2017, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Turtle Dove, Ali, John, and Brendan taught together for the first time on the Isle of Skye. It was a magical week, and we’re looking forward to bringing the team back together.  Each is a compassionate leader and a dedicated composer of original material. That, combined with John’s compelling approach to American gospel, Ali’s traditional Scots material, and Brendan’s studies in Kentucky and Zimbabwe and French Occitania, makes for a rich week of song.

Hallelujah Farm, outside of Brattleboro, is a lovingly restored 18th c. New England farmhouse with a fantastic great room to sing in. It is the nicest venue we have used in all of New England.

The week will begin with dinner and an evening session on Saturday, July 6. For the rest of time we will sing for about 6 hours a day (morning and afternoon sessions) with evenings free for socializing. We will probably have a cabaret evening on the Wednesday or Thursday evening and a free afternoon that day.

Cost: $1050/ commuters $600.

More about Singing Retreats

These retreats are for anybody who wants to spend their days singing with other people and creating harmony. All parts are taught by ear (sometimes with sheet music to reinforce the teaching) and enrollment is first-come, first-served. 

Generally we spend about 6 hours a day singing, with the evenings free. During a week-long retreat, there is usually a cabaret night and a free afternoon.

Short Term Chorus

Thursday evenings, 7:30—9:00 pm;  October 17 – November 21 at Putney Friends Meeting House with Brendan Taaffe
Register here.

Led by Brendan, the inaugural Turtle Dove Short Term Chorus will focus on African choral repertoire, drawing on his trips to Zimbabwe and knowledge of other sub-Saharn traditions. Joyful, uplifting material to sing (and dance)! Note—because of Halloween, we will meet on Wednesday, Oct. 30, with a social evening at Basin Farm.

Cost: $55 for 6 weeks.

Singing Intensives

October 25-27 with Emily Miller and Brendan Taaffe at Basin Farm.
Register here.

This intensive will focus on Emily’s early country and Appalachian duet and trio repertoire, drawing on her deep knowledge of those traditions, while Brendan will bring some jubilee gospel quartets and shape note hymns. The intensive will run from Friday dinner through Sunday afternoon, and the cost is $220. Limited to 16 singers.

Surrounded by old-time music as she was growing up, Emily Miller is one of the lead singers of honky-tonk sensations The Sweetback Sisters and has been featured several times on national radio programs, including A Prairie Home Companion and WV’s own Mountain Stage. When she’s home in West Virginia, she performs old-time music as a duo with her husband, Jesse Milnes, and is the musical director for the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble’s string band in Elkins, WV

Jan 17-20, 2020 at Basin Farm with Brendan
Register here.

This intensive will focus on Brendan’s original repertoire, with a recording day scheduled on the Monday. Recording technology can be a powerful learning tool, and we’ll use it with that intention, laying down some initial tracks and then listening back with a critical ear.

This intensive is limited to 14 singers. The cost is $200.

Details on the Singing Intensives

Modeled on the Bright Wings Chorus approach, these intensives are for more experienced singers who want to dig deep and work hard. 

What does it mean to be an “experienced” singer? My expectations are that:

  • you can hold a part on your own
  • you are comfortable with written music
  • you can keep up with quickly-paced rehearsals
  • you are excited about challenging yourself

Note that these are non-residential camps. We will have lunch and dinner together at Basin Farm (my home), but I don’t have housing for everybody.