the uncommon chorus

Lynne’s reflections on Cuban Sing-Along

Cuba Revisited

It was such a thrill to teach and sing the music for our Cuban Workshop. To feel that rich culture taking us right back to our unique tour, where we took dance and drum and chant lessons from Masters of the Folkloric Tradition.

Afro-Cuban dance master Kati Hernandez by Liza GuizarThere is nothing like singing that rhythmic music which is the source of so much American popular music. It makes the body move without thinking about it. It makes the voice follow the body. Greatness!

And our workshop guest, Erick Barberia, was a great teacher of some difficult chants. This music is outside of most of our quick understanding and yet he led us to it, step by step, phrase by phrase. When new listeners begin to feel where that chant lines up with the beat, it is pure joy.

So, we learned a favorite Cuban folk song, Son de la Loma, and two Yemaya songs, dedicated to the goddess of the sea. I can’t wait for the next step!

Lynne Morrow, Music Director
January 2016


In appreciation of PME/PEV at year 36

As our gala fundraiser approaches, I’m reflecting on years past and what the chorus has meant to us and to our friends, new and old.

There are the peak experiences, of course, of communicating the music well enough to feel an electric, almost mystical connection with the audience: an inseparable triumvirate of singers, audience and music.

There are the moments in rehearsal when slogging through a tough section, finally nailing it and feeling everything lock into place, realizing Lynne’s vision for the piece.

There is the excitement of premiering a piece – but in a sense every performance is a premiere, never to be heard again – and often learning to love a piece that didn’t grab us in the beginning.

And there are the times with the audience afterwards when we get to share our experiences and hear what was most special to them.

After the December concert we received several appreciations from audience and chorus members, which we have just posted. What has Pacific Mozart Ensemble/Pacific Edge Voices meant to you? Feel free to share your thoughts and feelings by clicking this link and entering them in the Leave a Reply section at the bottom.

I hope to see many of you at the fundraiser. I’ve reserved my table, have you?

Dale Engle (Bass)


Group Singing for Sharing Good Vibes and Good Health!

As a singer and voice teacher, I am continually surprised by the number of people who will come up to me after a church service and say, “I am so glad you were singing; I could actually hear the melody and sing along…” This is frequently followed a statement, offered sheepishly, “I wish I could really sing.”

Elisabeth Eliassen Voice TeacherIf you have, or anyone you know has, ever been told, “you shouldn’t be singing” or “stop that racket!” or “you can’t carry a tune in a bucket”, I am here to say, it ain’t so! And I heartily encourage you and everyone to make a joyful noise!

The human voice is an essential built-in coping and self-healing mechanism, not just a tool for artistic expression. I have rarely encountered a small child who doesn’t sing while playing alone. When I was a child, I made up songs that I sang to my cat at bedtime. My teenagers still sing songs at night and in the shower and while doing chores and homework, or when they have been upset.

More and more clinical studies are outlining the measurable health benefits of singing. The release of endorphins and oxytocin during the act of singing has been found to: Alleviate anxiety and stress; lessen depression and loneliness; enhance a sense of wellbeing and belonging; contribute to feelings of trust, bonding and community. At least seven therapeutic outcomes from group singing experiences have been documented and studied: Communication, cognition, cooperative engagement, confidence, relationship building, personal empowerment, and physical exercise culminating in stress reduction.

The long and the short of it is this, to paraphrase the title of the well-known hymn, “How can you keep from singing?”

All of this is just a way for me to say you don’t have to wait: Come on out and join us for our next Spirituals Sing-along!

When is that, you ask? And where? Why, it is coming up this very weekend! Halloween Saturday, to be exact! You can find all the details at this link to our event ticket page.

Mary Had a Baby: Advent and African American Spirituals
11:00 am St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, 525 29th St, Oakland

We look forward to singing with you!

Elisabeth Eliassen,
member of the alto section since 1994

The following articles were consulted in the writing of this entry:

Brian Eno Lists the Benefits of Singing: A Long Life, Increased Intelligence, and a Sound Civilization, Colin Marshall for Open Culture, February 27, 2015

Singing Changes Your Brain, Stacy Horn for Time Magazine August 16, 2013

Singing on Prescription? for Medical News Today, January 18, 2010


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