Northwest Sacred Music Chorale Handbook
Thank you for your interest in the Northwest Sacred Music Chorale (NWSMC)!
The NWSMC is comprised of a diverse group of volunteer musicians who come together each week for a common purpose—to sing! We believe that music is an art form that transcends all boundaries of religious creeds and brings unity and peace to each of its members as well as those who attend our concerts.
The Northwest Sacred Music Chorale exists to promote the highest standards in performance of quality choral music including sacred, classical, and secular works for the enjoyment and education of its membership and its audiences.
In 1999 Cynthia Marlette, together with a few key individuals from the greater Coeur d’Alene area, expressed a concern regarding the trend of “praise bands” replacing traditional and sacred works in the church setting. Because these sacred works not only bring joy to the listener but also challenge and uplift the performers, Cynthia expressed a desire to organize a group which would continue this tradition of choral sacred and classical music. Such an organization would not only keep these works alive for future generations, but give its members an opportunity to grow and develop their talents through their participation. The Northwest Sacred Music Chorale was born and recently celebrated its tenth season. To begin its second decade of existence Cynthia once again conducted the NWSMC in the Fall of 2011, performing Joseph Fitzmartin’s Concert Mass with full orchestral accompaniment to standing-room only audiences and the composer in attendance.
Although most members are active musicians and serve in various churches throughout the region, the NWSMC as an organization is not a religious group and does not adhere to any creed or specific faith. Our primary focus is to provide uplifting and beautiful music. Most of the Chorale’s sacred works are based on Western Christian beliefs from earliest Gregorian chant to modern times, but the Chorale’s repertoire is not limited to this genre. Our concerts (with the exception of Christmas) usually consist of a major sacred or classical work, with the balance of the performance coming from smaller sacred, classical, and secular songs including but not limited to patriotic, American spirituals, and folk music.
The Ensemble of the Northwest Sacred Music Chorale
In 2006 Gaynell Coppess, Assistant Artistic Director/Conductor of the NWSMC since 2004, saw the need for a smaller group within the Chorale. To meet the need for carolers at a Christmas Concert with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony, Gaynell invited a number of singers to join her singing in the halls prior to the start of that particular Christmas Concert. Today this group consists of 16 singers from the large group who perform more often in the community and in the Inland Northwest to promote the NWSMC. The Ensemble’s repertoire is more varied than that of the Chorale, and it includes pop and theatre music as well as the genre of music usually performed by the Chorale. To meet its outside performance schedule The Ensemble sometimes rehearses on Saturdays during the concert season and continues rehearsing (to a lesser degree) during the summer months. In the 2012-2013 Concert Season The Ensemble will be part of the Shoshone County Community Arts Association Concert Series. For the past four years The Ensemble has performed on the main stage for Art on the Green. Participation in this group is by invitation or audition as the need arises.
What to expect:
We would love to share unity and the blessings of singing beautiful music with you. If you’d like to participate in the Chorale, please read through the following to ensure an understanding of how the Chorale works.
Each member who would like to join the Chorale must audition with either the Artistic Director or the Assistant Artistic Director (directory of names is provided at the end of this document). After scheduling an audition time, please come prepared with a short piece (a church hymn is fine) which demonstrates your vocal range and ability. You may also be asked to do some sight reading and/or vocalizing in order to place you in a part which is comfortable for you.
Once the audition is complete and you’ve been notified of your placement in the Chorale, you will fill out an information sheet.
The NWSMC does have a $40 per session fee (two sessions per year) to help with the cost of music, facility rentals, guest performers, and other costs the Board of Directors deems necessary. If you are not able to pay the fee, there are scholarships available. Please contact the person with whom you auditioned for more information.
The Chorale meets for rehearsal at Community Presbyterian Church at the corner of 5th and Williams Streets in Post Falls, Idaho. Rehearsals begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. each Tuesday evening during the regular concert season (The Ensemble rehearses from 5:30 p.m. to 6:25 p.m. in the same space each Tuesday evening). In order to run an efficient and effective rehearsal, all members are asked to be in their seats and ready to sing at 6:30 p.m.
Rehearsals run from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. with a 15 minute break midway in the rehearsal. Refreshments* are provided at the break, and this is a wonderful opportunity for members to socialize and become better acquainted.
*Refreshments are provided by members on a voluntary basis. Sign-up sheets are available for each section (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) if you would like to bring something to share with the rest of the group. If you bring food PLEASE be sensitive to those who might have allergies or food sensitivities and LABEL any items that may contain nuts, or anything known to be an allergen.
Participants in the Chorale are here because they love to sing! We have a diverse group of musicians with varying musical backgrounds and ability levels. We also have many who have had the opportunity to direct music through their churches or in the community. This is what makes this group so wonderfully diverse! However, with so many backgrounds, it is sometimes difficult to run an efficient rehearsal; therefore, the NWSMC has established some “protocol” to follow if you have questions or comments.
Each section is assigned a Section Representative and a Music Section Leader, hereafter referred to as Section Leader. Your Section Leaders are your link to the Director. It is appropriate to direct any musical questions or comments through your Section Leader. This eliminates unnecessary and time-consuming questions during the rehearsal. If your Section Leader does not have an answer immediately for you, he or she will take that question to the Artistic Director and get an answer (this may occur during rehearsal or during a break). You may also keep comments or questions on sticky notes and give those to your Section Leader or the Artistic Director at break or at the end of the evening.
PLEASE DO NOT INTERRUPT THE DIRECTOR DURING REHEARSAL—for passage or pronunciation clarifications as this distracts from the rehearsal. Direct your questions to your section leader first and allow him or her to make that clarification. Your cooperation in this is much appreciated by the Director and your fellow choir members.
Rehearsals for the first session usually begin the first Tuesday after Labor Day with registration beginning at 6:00 p.m. before rehearsal begins. Should an upcoming scheduled work for the Fall Concert be exceptionally difficult, the start date will be publically announced. Rehearsals for the second session usually begin the second Tuesday in January with registration beginning at 6:00 p.m. before rehearsal begins.
In rare occurrences additional rehearsals may be called if the Artistic Director feels more time is needed to prepare for an upcoming performance. Most major works require at least 12 rehearsals in which mastery of the work is attained. A Section Leader may call additional rehearsals for his or her section as needed. Please try to attend if at all possible, even if you are not having difficulty with the song or songs. Your expertise may help others in your section gain the mastery and confidence needed to perfect the song or songs for that section.
The NWSMC generally performs four separate concerts each year. In the first session are the Fall Concert at the Kroc Center (Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.), the Messiah Sing-Along Concert with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony at Lake City Community Church (usually the first Friday in December at 7:00 p.m.), and our own Christmas Concert on the Wednesday one week before Christmas at the Kroc Center (5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on that day). The second session currently has only the Spring Concert at the Kroc Center (Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.).
Chorale members are expected to participate in all performances scheduled in a session for which the member is registered. Should an emergency arise regarding an absence please contact your Section Representative and Section Leader.
Our Fall and Spring Concerts generally consist of a major work followed by short sacred and/or secular songs.
Each year the Coeur d’Alene Symphony invites the NWSMC to participate in the Messiah Sing-Along Concert. It is important to note that this is a “paid” performance for the Chorale. The money earned from our performance in this concert is a significant contribution to the annual operating costs of the Chorale.
Our Christmas concert is our most popular concert. The Chorale does not usually offer a “major” work at this event. Rather, the Chorale performs a variety of Christmas favorites for all to enjoy. We are often joined by guest performers who add variety and depth to this beloved concert. This concert is titled “Come Home to the Sounds and Spirit of Christmas, “ and it is performed twice on a single night, traditionally the Wednesday before Christmas.
Please take note of concert dates and times before registration for a session. If for some reason you cannot participate in a concert or session, please discuss this with the Artistic Director/Conductor or the Assistant Artistic Director/Conductor.
After our Spring Concert the NWSMC takes the summer off to return rejuvenated and ready to sing again in the fall. The Ensemble usually continues to rehearse throughout the summer (in an abbreviated manner) in preparation for performances that are outside of the four major concerts mentioned above.
Selection of Music:
The Artistic Director/Conductor of the NWSMC is responsible for selecting the music sung by the Chorale at its concerts. The Assistant Director/Conductor of the NWSMC is responsible for selecting the music sung by The Ensemble of the NWSMC. Should a theme be established for a particular concert, the conductors endeavor to select theme-related music for a majority (but not necessarily all) of the songs to be sung at that concert. While most music will be sacred in nature, we may sing secular music as well. (Please review our mission statement on the first page of this handbook.) The selections are presented to the Board of Directors for approval, and once approved become part of the promotion and marketing for the upcoming season. In rare instances at the discretion of the Directors/Conductors will changes be made to the program once music is selected.
Music selections are meant to challenge members to greater musicality as well as uplifting and entertaining the audience.
Music purchased for the NWSMC is the property of the Chorale and must be returned after each session. If music is not returned in a timely manner, the Chorale member whose music is missing will be billed for the selections that are missing. Rehearsal CDs are also the property of the NWSMC and should be returned in a timely manner.
It has been the tradition since the creation of the Chorale to end each rehearsal with a spoken prayer and the song, “God Be With You,” (of which each member will receive a copy). Choir members are not required to participate in prayer or offer prayer. Our appointed Chaplain asks for volunteers, and a member is selected each week from those volunteers.
If you are uncomfortable with this tradition, please feel free to quietly withdraw at the end of rehearsal before the prayer is offered.
The NWSMC does not adhere to any once creed or doctrine of any specific religion. The prayer offered is simply a request to seek The Creator’s blessing over our members and their families, as well as the music we prepare.
Young Artist Competition
In the hope of inspiring a new generation of singers, each year the Chorale sponsors a Young Artist Competition for High School students from around the Inland Northwest. Winners are awarded a scholarship as well as a guest appearance on our Fall Concert. For more information please contact Young Artist Competition Chairperson, Ruth Leib at 208-446-8509.
As with any non-profit organization, it is vital to raise money each year to cover operating costs. We are so blessed to have the NWSMC Guild to lead us in this effort. Each year the Guild sponsors fundraising events and brings in significant donations which go to assist the Chorale’s burden of operational costs. If you would like to participate in the Guild or know of someone outside of the Chorale who would like to be a Guild member, please contact Carolyn Keefer at 208-765-0621.
Tickets go on sale four to five weeks prior to each concert. Members are encouraged to promote each concert and sell as many tickets as possible to friends and family. We cannot have a community chorale without an enthusiastic audience base. Season tickets to each upcoming season are also available for a discounted price each spring and summer. Please visit our Chorale websites to make your purchases. Visit us on the web at www.nwsmc.org and www.nwsmc.com.
Executive Director: Nate Jolley
Board of Directors, President: Dr. Lowell Renz
Board of Directors, Vice President and NWSMC Web Master: Lou Barten
Board of Directors, Secretary: JudyRiffe
Board of Directors, Treasurer: Karen A. Trusty
Board of Directors, Guild Chairperson: Carolyn Keefer
Board of Directors, Young Artist Competion Chairperson: Ruth Leib
Board of Directors, Member at Large: Max Mendez
Board of Directors, Member at Large: Becki Stevens
Artistic Director/Conductor: Mary Sims Johnson
Assistant Artistic Director/Conductor: Gaynell Coppess
Assistant Conductor to The Ensemble and Soprano Section Leader: Becki Stevens
Accompanist: Marietta Hardy
Assistant Accompanist: Ruth Leib
Soprano Section Representative: TBA
Alto Section Leader: Jane Orto
Alto Section Representative: Suzy Jolley
Tenor Section Leader: Judy Riffe
Tenor Section Representative: Lou Barten
Bass Section Leader: TBA
Bass Section Representative: John Empsall
Copyright 2007, NWSMC.com
The Northwest Sacred Music Chorale is a non-profit organization under IRS § 501 (c) (3). Your contribution may be tax deductible, please contact your tax advisor.