We are thrilled to be launching the Fonrose Singers. Jessica Zamek will be leading the chorus, and along with an accompanist is going to work with a group of inspired singers, all with one thing in common — that they love music and they love to sing. This blog is from one of the participants, Em Meulbroek, and she shares just why this chorus is going to bring her to Wainwright every Thursday evening.
When I was a kid, my mother, who worked full time as a high school teacher, would always make and clean up dinner. That was “her time”, and she’d commandeer the record player and massive old speakers and play her favorites as she did the dishes. I loved to listen to her as she belted them all out: Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, John Denver, The Fifth Dimension.
Like her, I also love singing. While I am not a professional, I was always able to get away with being in the chorus of high school and college musicals. Now, I mostly do creative things that don’t involve costumes or microphones. So, when I heard from my friend that a chorus was starting up at Wainwright House, I was literally the first to sign up. … and here’s why.
As a long-time mother myself, I also prepare dinner and clean up regularly just like my Mum did. And like her, I also sing while I’m doing it. I mean, I do exactly what she did. The only difference is the sound system and the soundtrack. I get my Youtube music playlists going and fire up my little portable speaker and I become a singer of songs, all sorts of songs, by the likes of Sinead O’ Connor (may she rest in peace), the Hamilton soundtrack, Tears for Fears, Aurora, Duran Duran, punk rock covers of Duran Duran, Nouvelle Vague doing covers of late 80s goth songs. I usually know all the words and I try to match the singer’s intensity and vocal idiosyncrasies to the best of my (limited) ability. And I also play certain songs on repeat ad nauseum, to the perpetual consternation of all other beings living in our house.
I don’t just sing around the house. I sing on solo walks, while taking out the garbage, and while cleaning the bathroom. Singing boosts my mood, energizes me, and often irritates other members of my household despite my pure intentions. How is it that nobody in my entire extended family likes the same music as me? The one person who would occasionally sing with me has been in college for two years. Sob.
So, I sing freely. I belt those tunes out. It usually helps. It’s kind of hard to feel really, really bad when you’re singing. (Unless it’s The Smiths or a lonely Irish dirge, in which case, it’s actually mandatory.)
My amazing, musical, renegade mother died recently after a seven-year, brutal and painful illness. Yet she was joyous to the very end. She taught me to enjoy singing just by opening her mouth. Over the years, whenever she would hear that I was unhappy, she’d say, “You need to be singing. Find a place to sing.” I didn’t have much luck, as we moved to new places often, and I don’t drive. Every Tuesday night for over 30 years, Mum and my wonderful stepdad, Jerome, would drive “into town” from rural New Brunswick, Canada, to sing in their local Choral Society. They tackled choral works like The Messiah, The Creation, and other fun and bombastic multi-harmonized choral music that is great fun to sing even when it’s in Latin and you don’t really know what you’re singing.
This is why I was the first to sign up for the Fonrose Singers – the new chorus at Wainwright House.
The name, I’m told, is in honor of Fonrose Wainwright Condict, the daughter of Colonel Wainwright who built the estate. She lived in Fonrose House — the smaller property adjacent to the main house — until her death in 1983.
And I’m even more excited that the chorus is for beginners. It’s for car singers. It’s for fancy, advanced singers. Even if you only sing in the shower, it’s for all of us who want a place to find our voices and maybe belt out a show tune, a slow tune, a sweet and sad, and pretty and loud tune.
The Fonrose Singers will meet every Thursday night from 7:30 – 9:00 pm starting September 14th and going until November 16th. One of the Wainwright Trustees, Ann Magalhaes has enticed professional opera singer and vocal teacher Jessica Zamek to lead the group. Jessica will choose music that is fun, connecting and good for those with limited chorus experience … as well as those who are seasoned pros.
Because … anyone can sing. You don’t have to be good at it. The point is, singing is great, and available to all. It doesn’t matter how well you do it, and it’s even more fun doing it with other people.
And in case you need more convincing, here are some reasons why we ALL need to sing:
It’s good for your immune system. (seriously!)
It lets you lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it.
It expands your horizons.
I’m so excited to be on the ground floor joining this new chorus. I signed up the minute I heard about it, and I hope you do, too.
If you also want to sing ... sign up here. There are still spaces available.