August Concert for Hillside SPCA and Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center

 

Two weeks from today, special summer concert will take place with my musical friends Emily Barrett, Mark Denchy, and Tom Flamini.  The concert will support the Hillside SPCA and the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center.  I am very much looking forward to making music in order to benefit the wonderful animals at Hillside and to support a community place that is a new performance venue for me: the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center.

The concert will be on Sunday, August 27th, 2017 at 2:30 pm at the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center.  Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.  All of the ticket money will be donated to the two organizations.  The Hillside SPCA will receive 50% of all ticket sales, and the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center will receive 50% of all ticket sales.  You are invited to purchase advance tickets online at http://walkinartcenter.org/events/Event%20Registration/#!/Benefit-Concert-for-Hillside-S-P-C-A/p/86364814/category=15365366

I have visited the Hillside SPCA twice this month and just two days ago adopted two lovely cats.  It is feeling stressful right now as I work to encourage my cat Advent to accept the new family members, but I am hopeful that they will eventually enjoy (or at least tolerate) each other’s company.  Below are the two new Hillside SPCA kitties who have moved in with me.

Domestic Shorthair Cat for adoption in Pottsville, Pennsylvania - DinkyDomestic Mediumhair Cat for adoption in Pottsville, Pennsylvania - Chloe

Please help me to spread the word about this upcoming concert by passing the announcement on to any music-lovers and cat lovers and dog lovers.  Hug your pets today, and be in touch with me if you have any questions about this upcoming concert!  =^..^=

Click here to view our full-size PDF concert poster!

Summer Concert Announcement

 

I am happy to announce that I am planning to offer a special summer concert with my musical friends Emily Barrett, Mark Denchy, and Tom Flamini.  This is a concert that will support the Hillside SPCA and the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center.  Animals are so close to my heart; everyone who knows me well has heard me share about my beloved cats, and I am so excited to make music in order to benefit animals in need.  I’m also excited to try out a new performance venue; the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center is a great space to visit.  The center offers opportunities to interact with visual artists and performing artists and also to take classes and develop skills and express yourself creatively.

The concert will be on Sunday, August 27th, 2017 at 2:30 pm at the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center.  Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.  All of the ticket money will be donated to the two organizations, with the Hillside SPCA receiving 50% of all ticket sales and the Schuylkill Haven Walk-In Art Center receiving 50% of all ticket sales.  You are invited to purchase advance tickets online at http://walkinartcenter.org/events/Event%20Registration/#!/Benefit-Concert-for-Hillside-S-P-C-A/p/86364814/category=15365366

 

 

 

 

I hope that those of you who have attended my annual Christmas Benefit Concert at the Tamaqua Community Art Center will make the short trip to Schuylkill Haven to hear me perform there with Emily, Mark, and Tom as I lift my voice to support the animals and the arts in our local community, and I hope that I meet some new friends who possibly have never heard my music before and who find their way to this concert on the other side of Schuylkill County.

Please help me to spread the word by sharing about this upcoming concert with any music-lovers and cat lovers and dog lovers.  Hug your pets today, and be in touch with me if you have any questions about this upcoming concert!  =^..^=

Click here to view our full-size PDF concert poster!

Voice Lifted at Christmas – Fifth Annual Benefit Concert

IMG_5116 IMG_5148

It is hard to believe that this will be the fifth consecutive year for the Voice Lifted Christmas Benefit Concert,  This year’s event will be on Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 2:30 pm.  This event will, as in the past years, benefit the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation and the Tamaqua Community Arts Center.  100% of the ticket money will go to these two organizations, with each receiving 50%.  Tickets will be $8 in advance and $10 at the door.  You may call 570-818-4135 for advance tickets.  Returning to the stage as guest performers this year will be Emily Barrett and Tom Flamini.

If you have not attended a Voice Lifted Christmas Benefit Concert in the past, I invite you to experience this event as a way to lift your spirit and to do something for yourself this holiday season that will help you to connect with the deeper meaning of Christmas.  My intention each year is to make this concert a retreat from the busyness of the season, a time to breathe & go within, and a time to reflect on who we are and how God is present in each of us and in our world.  The concert will include familiar Christmas songs as well as many unfamiliar pieces that explore our relationship with the Divine, our human experiences and emotions, and our connection to the past and to the future.  A favorite part of the concert in past years in addition to the music was the improvised sharing of personal stories and messages.  I look forward to opening my heart to the inspiration of the Spirit and seeing how God speaks through me in this annual event.

Please contact me with any questions about the concert or if you would like to purchase tickets in advance.

Christmas Benefit Concert

 

 

This year, I will offer for the fourth consecutive year the Voice Lifted Christmas Benefit Concert on Sunday, December 6, 2015 at 2:30 pm.  This event will again benefit the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation and the Tamaqua Community Arts Center.  100% of the ticket money will go to these two organizations, with each receiving 50%.  Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.  You may call 570-818-4135 for advance tickets.

I am excited to announce that guest performers this year will include Mr. Steven Toth (Tamaqua Senior High School principal), Emily Barrett, Tom Flamini, and Barbara Greim.

If you have not attended a Voice Lifted Christmas Benefit Concert in the past, I invite you to experience the event as a way to lift your spirit and to do something for yourself this holiday season that will help you to connect with the deeper meaning of Christmas.  My intention each year is to make this concert a retreat from the busyness of the season, a time to breathe & go within & reflect on who we are and how God is present in each of us and in our world.  The concert will include familiar Christmas songs as well as many unfamiliar pieces that explore our relationship with the Sacred, our human experiences and emotions, and our connection to the past and to the future.  A favorite part of the concert in past years in addition to the music was the improvised sharing of personal stories and messages.  I look forward to opening my heart to the inspiration of the Spirit and seeing how God speaks through music and word in this annual event.

Please be in touch if you have any questions about the event or would like to purchase tickets in advance.

Life Lessons

tumor-pituitary

 

A recent health scare has taught me some very important life lessons.  After having routine lab work done in April, I got the report that one of my hormone levels – Prolactin – was elevated.  My doctor recommended that I see an endocrinologist, but since I couldn’t get an appointment for several months with an endocrinologist, I asked the doctor if I should have a contrast MRI of the brain/pituitary gland done, just to make sure that there were no abnormalities that could be causing the elevated Prolactin level.  After the MRI, I got a phone call…not from one of the doctor’s office secretaries, but from the doctor herself:  the MRI showed a pituitary tumor.

 

After this diagnosis, I did even more research (on reputable medical websites) on elevated Prolactin levels and pituitary tumors.  The more research I did, the more I learned and understood about this condition…and the more scared I got.  I read about medications that had very serious side effects and saw statistics showing that almost everyone who took these medications experienced these side effects.  I read on multiple websites that the most common course of action was surgery.  I became horrified when I saw that the surgery is typically done transsphenoidally (going through the nose and the sphenoid bone.)  Since the nasal cavity is a resonance chamber for the singing voice, I felt that this was the worst possible thing that could happen to me;  I would have much preferred that they just cut open my head.  In  the meantime, I saw an endocrinologist and an ophthalmologist.  The reason I was referred to an ophthalmologist is that sometimes these tumors can press on the optic nerve at the optic chiasm affecting peripheral vision, but this isn’t the case for me.

 

Because of my concerns with my singing voice, I went to see a team of doctors at Johns Hopkins Pituitary Center in Baltimore, Maryland.  They were able to get me in for an appointment last Thursday, and that appointment brought me good news.  The doctors are recommending that this tumor be monitored through serial MRIs.  I will have repeat blood work in 6 months and a repeat contrast MRI after that.  Then, they will see if the tumor has grown over time, stayed the same size, or has shrunk.  At this time, they do not feel that medication or surgery is necessary…since I have not been experiencing any symptoms.

 

This was the best possible outcome I could have hoped for.  While I will need to follow up and monitor this condition, I am not looking at surgery or medication right now…and possibly will never need to do anything to treat it.

 

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I do want to take away from this the life lessons that are mine to learn.  A health scare of any kind is always a reminder to be thankful for one’s good health.  This also has reminded me that everyone has challenging times and things to deal with that are very scary, sad, and painful…so I hold that in my heart as I am interacting with people, whether it is a student of mine, a parent of a student, my friends, a cashier at a business, someone whom I meet while waiting in line at the post office, anyone…  I am reminded of the quote that was attributed to Plato, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

 

I know that another lesson for me in this is to let go and release my grip on “how things should be.”  We can sometimes get so fixated on there being only one possible outcome…one possible way for things to go that would be “the right way.”  But that is not the case…and so often, there is something better in store for us.  I knew, as I was going through this, that I would have to get to a place in which I was going to accept and be okay with whatever the outcome was.  If I was going to need surgery, then I’d need to believe that this was happening because maybe my body needed a time to slow down and step away from it all, and this would be a time to take good care of myself.   If surgery or medication would affect my singing voice, I’d have to accept that there was some other way that I was to share of myself with others and contribute to the world.  And this was a reminder that I am not entitled to anything & that nothing is a guarantee…I’m not entitled to one more day with the voice I have;  I’m not guaranteed one more day on the planet.  I can hope for more days to lift my voice in song and more time to do the things I love, but none of it is guaranteed.  This has reminded me to see it all as a gift and has allowed me to be so grateful and so amazed by the tremendous gifts I’ve been given and continue to get.

 

It took me a while to process all of this & feel my feelings & come to peace.  I did get to that place, and I think that was a major reason that the Universe orchestrated this challenge for me.  Even though it wasn’t in a pleasant form, it was something that I had to experience in order to grow.  There are so many other lessons to take away from it all.  I also know this was an opportunity to practice advocating for myself and my health and remembering that I know my body best.  Finally, this experience showed me that there are so many people who care about me and that I have wonderful friends who are willing to listen and to share of their experiences with me in a beautiful and authentic way.  If I never had this experience, I wouldn’t have had these same conversations…wouldn’t have become so vulnerable in my sharing and wouldn’t have heard the supportive words from friends & experienced such wonderful connections.

 

So I do believe this happened for a reason, and I’m grateful for the life lessons I’ve learned and am still learning from it.  Of course, the future with this tumor is uncertain. At any time in the future, I could notice symptoms.  I could have my repeat blood work and repeat MRI and get a bad report.  But on the other hand, I could end up having this for the rest of my life and have no problems at all from it…it very well could even shrink.  And that is life: never knowing what is coming next, so therefore, being in the present moment and engaging wholeheartedly with the life that is right in front of you.

 

fall apart quote picture

Homecoming

This past weekend, I returned to the college where I got my undergraduate degree for the college’s Homecoming festivities.  In all of the years since I graduated, I had never attended Homecoming.  I made special plans to attend this year, because my vocal music professor will be retiring at the end of this academic year.

 

One of the highlights of Homecoming weekend is an “Open Choir Rehearsal,” which is always held on the Saturday morning of Homecoming weekend.  In that rehearsal, the current Lycoming College Choir members sing along with returning choir alumni.  The rehearsal was held in a beautifully constructed building that has been erected on campus since my graduation:  Honors Hall.

 

Dr. Fred Thayer, the choir director, led the choir in some familiar pieces, such as “Beautiful Savior” and “The Benediction” by Peter Lutkin.  The choir also rehearsed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as the group of current choir members and alumni were invited to sing this piece at the college football game later in the afternoon.

 

Fred allowed each returning choir member to introduce himself/herself and to update the group on life since college.  I could see the pride on Fred’s face as he witnessed each returning choir member sharing a few words about his or her life journey.

 

We also had the opportunity to hear the current Lycoming Chamber Choir perform. As these young sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses lifted their voices, it was evident that they were engaged in a meaningful way with the music, with each other, and with their conductor.  The beautiful sounds that filled the concert hall were sounds that were alive with humanness and connection;  these young singers are very lucky to be experiencing the gift of making music under the direction of Dr. Thayer.

 

A conductor does not simply wave his or her arms in the air to keep the tempo and remind the singers of the dynamics in the pieces of music.  A choral conductor has the privilege of taking individual voices and individual spirits and joining them in a way that is meaningful and that allows each singer’s strengths and talents to be combined in a way that leads to a collective sound that is strong and vibrant.  As voices join, friendships form, and the music strengthens those friendships and the friendships strengthen the music-making.

 

I was moved on Saturday by the special connection that exists between Lycoming College Choir alumni, even those separated in their college singing tenure by 30 years.  I am grateful for my experience singing in the Lycoming College Choir, and I wish the very best to this year’s vocal ensembles and wish the very best to their outstanding conductor and mentor, Dr. Fred Thayer.