A Glorious Weekend

Dear Friends

As I arise from a fog of coughing & congestion… I hereby, officially proclaim, another glorious weekend.

Our tradition is very alive and very well!  Congratulations to each and every one of you.  We continue to succeeded on so many levels.

I’ve been home all week battling this illness and I’ve had plenty of time to think.  Here is some of what i’ve been thinking.

  • I am so very proud of the work we’ve done.  It was a very fulfilling process.
  • I feel privileged to work with such a talented, responsive and attentive choir.
  • I feel lifted by the many new singer friends we’ve made.
  • I am renewed by my work with so many singers who return each year seeking personal, musical and spiritual growth through singing.

As usual, the audience response was tremendous!  However, as I often try to express, our performance is merely the icing on the cake. It is not the sole purpose of our work.  I choose to look at a great performance as the single point in our annual process, when we let everyone else “in on” our little secret.  I remind myself that our audience only gets a quick peek at the joy we’ve been experiencing for 8 weeks.

I am filled by your work, your generosity, your risk-taking, your enthusiasm, and your dedication to an endeavor that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

 “As soon as we find each other, we invite the miracle to begin.”
- Robert Shaw

Here’s to the next miracle!

Blessings to all of you,



P.S. I am clearly on the mend. Thank you for your extra attention and sensitivity that allowed me to fully enjoy our weekend.

Congratulations and News

Dear Singers,

Thank you for your dedication and commitment to making this year’s Cantata performance memorable. We had a full house, and the audience was enthusiastic. We followed Mark’s direction, and we gave a wonderful performance. I’ll leave it to Mark to give his impressions. He had the best place to listen, and he knows how we responded to his direction and made great music together. The musicians provided superb accompaniment.

I have a number for the free-will offering – $2,099. That might be a record. This will really help the Sunday Meals program get off to a secure start. This money will go a long way to support this program.

I want to remind you that Bob Peisher recorded the performance. You can order a DVD (for $20) or a CD (audio only, for $15). I have included a scanned copy of the order form. I took the orders I had received to Bob on Monday. At this point, if you want to order a DVD or CD, please send your order directly to Peish Video, and be sure to use the address on the order form (17 Washington Street, Hornell, NY 14843). Bob moved his business, so don’t send orders to the former address.

If this was your first time, wasn’t it a blast? There was a story making the rounds this week about how singing with a group is beneficial for our mental health. The Cantata veterans knew this, even without a study to support it, and now you know it too.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year!


Peish Recording Order Form

Recording Order Form & Words for Bach Piece

Great dress rehearsal! Thank you!

I have order forms for DVD’s and music CD’s of this year’s Cantata performance. Peish Video will record our performance, and these recordings are a great way to preserve this for you and your family. The image and sound quality have been very good in prior years, especially as Bob Peisher has added new recording equipment. The price is $20 for a DVD and $15 for a CD. This includes taxes and delivery. Bob promises to ship the recordings to you by Dec. 19th, so you’ll have them by Christmas.

I have included an order form with this message. I will collect completed forms Sunday and take them to Bob on Monday. However, I need to have either a check (payable to Peisch Video), or the EXACT AMOUNT in cash for your order. I won’t be in a position to make change. You can take or send your order directly to Peish Video, if you don’t give it to me on Sunday.

My wife (Linda) prepared a one-page large-type printout of the words (no music) to Wake, Awake (our opening piece that we sing in the round). Newcomers need to know (and this will remind the veterans) that the church is very dark when we sing this piece. There is some light, but it is dim, and it’s not easy to see the music, and especially the words. You may want to print this out and put it into your folder. You know the music, but you may need to see the words. This can be a great help.

Final reminders for Sunday:

Riser set-up at 3:30 PM

Singers should be at St. Ann’s at 5:15 PM

White on top; black on bottom; ties for men (bow ties are OK); feel free to add some color (scarf, sash, etc.); no chewing gum; no strong scents. Shoes should be black, if at all possible. For the women: avoid high heels! They are dangerous on the risers, and you will not be comfortable during the performance.

WATCH MARK! CONCENTRATE, BUT ENJOY THIS EXPERIENCE! We are confident in our preparation, and it’s a joy to present this musical, spiritual gift to the community. Finally, take a few minutes to read Lloyd Larson’s Foreword to his cantata. He very clearly puts this music (and words) into perspective.


Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying

Peish Recording Order Form

Hi Folks,

As promised here are more notes.. please add them to your score.

These details, along with the breathing/phrasing notes from last week, bring our performance to another level. I was very impressed with how well you marked and observed the breath/phrasing this past Sunday.  Thank you.

The notes below are about entrances, page turns, warnings to look ahead, feeling the pulse, shortening certain notes, confidence, etc.  (preventive medicine sort of stuff).  There are also notes about significant changes in volume (aka. “dynamics”).  These dynamic markings are in your score.  Here is what they mean:

pp = very soft / p = soft / mp = med-soft /  mf = med-loud / f= loud / ff= very loud / fff = give it all you got –  “dim.” (diminuendo) means get softer, and “cresc.” (crescendo) means get louder

That said, Please NoteDynamics are relative!  (ex. ..how loud is loud? .. how soft is soft? … how fast or slow do we change volume?, etc.)  The only way to really know is to WATCH ME!!

The notes about dynamics are really just a warning that a dynamic change is coming up!!  I will take it from there!  WATCH ME !! .. WATCH ME for these changes and please don’t be glued to your score. I will show you the important changes with my gestures.  You’ll know what to do.

I am very excited about this weekend.  Those of you who have been through this experience know what a thrill it will be.  We will add nuance and musicality and do wonderfully creative things with this music.  Lets remember we are telling the Christmas story.  And if you need more motivation,  3 different people at 3 different times in the past 2 weeks told me that they are moved to tears, each and every year, at our cantata performance.  Folks, we feed souls with our good work.  What a wonderful gift we have to give.

Regards as always,




Men p3 #26 Tempo picks up for your entrance

p.5 #45 .. internalize the tempo for entr. at #56

p.5 #56 .. entrance .. be on time! pickup note (“The”) to strong beat “Peo”

p.7 #76 -> dont drage the dotted quarters (each gets a beat)

p.7-8 – page turn from p. 7 – 8 (look ahead turn pg. early)

#104 – Look ahead across pg. 8-9 to rhythm at #104

#111 – get softer at #111 thru #117 (mf-mp-p) = (med.loud to med.soft to soft)

#125 – be aware of tune change (keep looking ahead) also mf (med.loud)

#141 – at F (loud)

#167 “dim” means get softer .. end mp (med.soft)

Careful of breathing – long phrases

Start song (mp) .. makes a contrast to next dynamic change at #21

Ladies – page turn 15-16 look ahead .. youre missing those notes at #19 (look ahead)

p.16 #21 Louder (mf) .. on “Oh Little”

p.17 #35-36 diminuendo (get softer) – #36 (mp)

p.19 #54 – crescendo (get louder) on pg turn to (f) at #56

p.21 #73 – gets slower and softer to end (p) .. watch me

Feel 1 & start soft (p)

p.35 #41-42 (crescendo – get louder to f)

p.36 #49 (dim = get softer) down to p

p.37 #59 F (loud)

p.38 #75-78 – cresc. (get louder)

p.38 #85 – (f) and are ya still feelin “1”? .. of course you are!

p.39 #92 & #94 .. I want to “hear” those rests

p.39-40 #95 – cresc. thru #97 (to ff)

p.40 #102-105 .. shhhhhh!!!! its soft (p)

Feel Quick Tempo from Accompaniment

Everyone — listen up .. make the eight notes short! so we can keep it moving

Also, All (including me) #14-15, #19-20 is longer than i think

Ladies p.43 entrance — BE READY for your notes & be on time (and mp)

p.43 Men – cresc. #39-40

p.43 All #41 .. strong, resolute (mf)

p.44-45 #56+ – (f) Strong Long quarter notes (and melody is now twice as long)

p.46 #83- 86 .. cresc. little by little to (ff) at 3/4 bar ** Right into strong “This, This Is Christ the King”

p.48 #100 (dim) start getting softer lso we end up (mp) at #108



p.49 – FEEL “1”

Ladies, Start (p) soft

p.50 – Men Entrance at #21 .. (mp) med. soft

p.51 #24 – Careful !!! on word “But” its an eighth note pickup to “long”

p.52 – still (mp) light .. airy .. this is a “Cradle Song” we’re singing to a baby .. lets be gentle

p.53 – that said, #47 is a strong, firm (mf) entrance in 4 parts (PLEASE PLEASE Do not slow down)

p.55 #71-73 (dim to p)

p.56 #76 to end is soft (p)

FEEL what? .. Thats right.. FEEL “1” (long…. short, short / long…. short, short, etc)


p.56 & 57 = are soft,
p.57-59, are louder through the Glorias
p.60-61 is louder still .. UNTIL #73
p.61-62 – then things come back down gradually to end (mf,mp,p)

FANFARE TIME!!! – Accent Syncopations (make this JAZZ)

p.64 – Guess your note at the key change #13 – dont back off

p.64 – LOOK AHEAD to #17 – Lean into Rhythm (Glo-ry-Be)

p.65 – shorten notes.. dancing .. stay in quick tempo

p.65 – #33 (News of) .. Please Dont Slow Down when you go into 4 parts

p.66-67 – 2 tunes here – one light and dancy, the other strong and bold

p.69-70 – Be ready for the page turn, Obviously, big & bold “Hark the Herald” But Dont Drag

p.72 – BE READY FOR QUICK SONG CHANGE at #110 (feel “1”) (f)

p.74 #142 – BE READY FOR THIS CHANGE back to FANFARE!!

#142 – #150 .. Save Some Gas for ENDING!!!!!!




4) ALL (esp. MEN) – remember the repeat at #16 .. back to beginning

5) ALL 2nd time through, jump from bottom p.3 to bottom of p.5

6) Pgs.7-8 – should be memorized!! (basses 4x, Alto 3x, Sops 2x, tenors once

7) ALL TOGETHER at #31 .. This is Critical


This is a cradle song .. “tranquillo” .. be gentle, be maternal, be light

The 1/16th notes are ornaments to the words that follow. (ex. who-laid, with-anthems, the-son, who-angels)
… in these examples (who, with, the, who) are just light decorations to the word that follows

Watch me CLOSELY .. this song is full of slight tempo changes, and swells of volume changes…watch me ill cue you for those changes.

p.8 Sopranos – be ready ahead of time and “go for it” at #54-55

p.8 All – Lets end (p) soft

In the end.. this is a lullaby ..

I think it would be helpful if you Highlight each of the dynamic changes (pp. p. mp. mf, f) in this score. They change a lot, as to vary the repeating melody.

P.6 Everyone Look Ahead, be ready for #48 O Holy Night

I think the instruments give us the real flavor of a dance, and its in 6/8 which bounces (123,456) lets let it dance :)

Cantata – Reminders, Tips, and Information

Here are some reminders about the Cantata.

Dress rehearsal: This Saturday at 10:00 AM in St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church, Erie Avenue, Hornell. Dress warmly and please be on time. We will find our place on the risers and practice getting on and off the risers. We will also practice singing the Bach piece in the round. The orchestra arrives later, and we will run through the whole performance with the orchestra. This rehearsal will take several hours. It’s a good idea to bring water. Also, please do not use strong scents for this rehearsal and for the performance (perfume, cologne, after shave, hair sprays, etc.). We will be standing close together, and strong scents can be irritating, or at least annoying. This is not a joke.

Important Tip: Remember your place when we are in the round. Who is on either side of you? You need this information in order to find your place in line Sunday evening when we line up (two lines) before walking from the school to the church.

Riser Pick-Up: Chuck Flansburg needs some strong people to help with picking up the risers and putting them into St. Ann’s. This will be done Friday afternoon. Chuck has the details concerning times, etc. I know that some of you have already told Chuck that you will help. Anyone who can help should get in touch with Chuck (crflansburg@live.com), or me (varnerjr@alfred.edu).

Riser Set-Up: We need people to help set up the risers Saturday morning at 9:00 AM. Please let Chuck or me know if you can help with this. We’ll ask you to help take down the risers after dress rehearsal. We’ll need to set up the risers Sunday afternoon. Chuck will remind us of the time (I think he said 3:00, but we’ll confirm this on Saturday).

Sunday: We should be at St. Ann’s at 5:15 PM. Come to the sanctuary. We’ll get on the risers and Mark will have us run through a few things, but not the whole program. We’ll then go to the former St. Ann’s school across the street to run through some other spots and share some time together before the performance. Shortly before 7 PM we’ll get in our two lines (see my tip above), and we’ll walk to the church at the appointed time. We’ll arrange to have a couple of tables at the back of the church for you to leave your coat, if you choose to wear your coat for the walk. The basement room in the school will be locked during the performance.

Important Tip: As you approach the church (walking from the school), and especially when you enter the church, please BE QUIET! There is an air of mystery when we walk in and take our place in the round. Silence adds to the mystery and sense of anticipation.

Parking: Unless you have difficulties walking, please use the municipal parking lot across from the “Y”, or other places that are not right next to the church. Let’s leave the spaces close to the church for our guests.

Contingency Plan: If there is a funeral at St. Ann’s on Saturday, it will be in the morning, and we will need to start our rehearsal after the funeral. Watch your email Friday and also Saturday morning. We will use the blog to inform you of any change in our schedule.

Carol lyrics: I have attached a file with the words to the carols (first verse). Feel free to print this (it’s one page) and put it in your Cantata folder.

Practice, practice, practice (on your own)!

See you Saturday! You are a great group, and it’s a joy to sing with you. We will watch Mark and put on a performance that will wow the audience.

Carol lyrics

An invitation

Linda and I invite you to a reception at our house after the Cantata performance Sunday evening, December 7th. We want to provide an opportunity for us to wind down after the performance and share our thoughts about it. We’ll provide some things to quench your thirst and some simple things to eat (like cheese and crackers). If you can join us, please bring something to share (an appetizer, cut-up vegetables, fruit, etc.).

Our house is at 424 Seneca Road in North Hornell. That’s on the west side of Seneca Road, north of Bethesda Drive. Our house is easy to recognize, since we have two large (three-feet high) illuminated bells and a lighted Moravian star between them hanging above our pouch railing. There is limited parking in our driveway, on the south side of the house. Parking is not allowed on Seneca Road, but you may park on the two small side streets on the east side, a little south of our house (Jones Street and Linwood Avenue). You may also park on Cleveland Avenue, the street parallel to Seneca Road that is to the west, but that’s a farther walk.

Please let us know if you can come or not, so that we can make sure that we have enough liquid refreshments on hand for thirsty performers.

Jim and Linda Varner

This Morning

Hi Gang

When I woke up this morning my first thought was how well our rehearsal went last night.  I am so proud of the work we have done.

Lets push to the finish line refining a few more details and it will well exceed all expectations and be a glorious evening.

More later.  Stay tuned.



Donations for Mark, Pat, etc.

We collect donations each year from the chorus to provide gifts to Mark and Pat, and token gifts to the musicians. We will pass around collections bags at rehearsal this Sunday. Donations are voluntary, of course, and any amount is appreciated. My wife, Linda, always does a superb job in selecting appropriate gifts (and stretching the donations as far as possible by shopping carefully). We know that Mark treasures the gifts he has received from us over the years as tangible reminders of the Cantatas.


Cantata Notes for your Score #1

Hi Everyone,

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

I will be sending out a few sets of notes for you to MARK IN YOUR SCORES

This message has

1) order of music and
2) breath marks …. for you to add to your scores :)

There is so much to think about during performance it really is essential that you take the time to make these notes in you score (and the the notes to follow).

Music Order

Opening (in the round): Wake, Awake for Night is Flying


  1. A Great Light
  2. Bethlehem
  3. * What Child (FOLLOWING Reading on Top p.22 – CUT “Never Been A Night”)
  4. All Is Well
  5. * Have You Seen The Baby (FOLLOWING “Narrator 1″ Reading TOP p.41)
  6. Sing We Now of Christmas
  7. Welcome to Our World
  8. Were You There on That Christmas Night?
  9. Glory to the Newborn King
  10. *DURING OFFERING: “Christmas Pipes”
  11. Hallelujah Chorus – G.F. Handel

— Candlelight Carol Sing

1) Hark The Herald Angels Sing
2) O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
3) The First Noel
4) Silent Night
5) Let There Be Peace on Earth

NOTES ON PHRASING (BREATHING) - Please Dont breathe between these notes: Mark Your Scores Please

A Great Light

p3 #30 (sang-at)
p4 #38-39 (rang-all)
p6 #60 (ness-shall)
p6 #68 (ness-on)
p7 #84-85 (shall-see)
p9 #116-117 (of-peace)
p10 #128-129 (us-born)
p11 #136-137 (us-let)
p11-12 # page turn (tion-hope)
p12 #150-151 (of-ev)
p12 #155-157 (long-ing-heart)
p13 #164 (ness-shall)


p14 #6 (hem-there)
p15 #14 (much-God)
p15 #18 (led-what)
p16 #26 (sleep-the)
p17 #30 (eth-the)
p17 #34 (years-are)
p18 #41 (ly-the)
p18 #45 (hearts-the)
p19 #49 (ing-but)
p19 #53-54 (the dear)
p20 #57-58 (how-still)
p20 #61 (sleep-the)
p21 #69 (years-are)
p21 #74 (thee-to)

All Is Well

p33-35 .. these are mostly 4 measure phrases ..no breaths until end of each phrase (examples – all is well, all is well .. on 1 breath … )
p35-36 #39-46 .. Christ is come (quick breath) go and tell (no breath) that he is in the manger
p36 #46-52 … Sing alle (quick breath) sing alleluia (all on one breath)
p37 #59 Again, 4 measure phrases .. breath only at rests at end of each phrase
p38 #76 Quick Breath between (ia-All)
p38 #85-88 – No Breath
p39 #89-92 – No Breath
p39-40 #92-97 – quick breaths on rests .. no breath after page turn

Sing We Now

p41-44 #11-49 Again all 4 measure phrases – no breaths
p45 #68-69 no breath (ger-watch)
p47 #91 No breath (king-whom)
p48 #99 No breath (laud-the)

Welcome to Our World

Lots of eighth rests to catch quick breaths
p55 #72 No breath (son-of)

Were You There

Each Phrase on one breath!!!! – no breath in the middle of a phrase
p58 #36 No breath (bowed-as)
p59 #46 Men No breath (sang-at)
p60 #54-55 No breath (rang-all)
p61 Again, no breaths in middle of phrases
p61 Sopranos catch a breath before #75 so you can hold “earth”
p62 #80 No breath (love-that)

Glory to the Newborn King

Each phrase on one breath ..
p66 #45-46 Men No breath (sing-glo)
p67 #53-54 Women No breath (mild-God)
p70 #90-91 Men No breath (peace-hail)
p70 #94-95 Men No breath (bring-ris)
p71 #98-99 Men No breath (by-born)
p72 #114 All – No breath (sang-at)
p73 #121-122 No breath (rang-all)
p74 ALl – steal a breath before #139

What Child:

p2 #6 No breath (rest-on)
p2 #10 No breath (sweet-while)
p3 #14 No breath (king-whom)
p4 #25 No breath (tate-where)
p5 #29 No breath (hear-the)
p5 #33 No breath (king-whom)
p6 #38 No breath (son-of)

Have you Seen the Baby:  Breath when you can . BUT …. KEEP THE PULSE STEADY!!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE

Christmas Pipes: Not much to worry about here, except the O Holy Night section

p6 #49 (night-the)
p7 #53 (night-of)

Thats it for now.. stay tuned for additional notes including “Dynamics” (changes in volume)

Please come prepared with scores marked on Sunday .. Thanks.

If you have sections of notes you want to review.. bring them on Sunday (or send them to me ahead of time at opus57@gmail.com)

See ya then


Publicity for Cantata

Mark reminded us at Sunday’s rehearsal that we need to publicize the Cantata. We have people who are getting in touch with local radio stations and newspaper. We need all of you to help get the word out in other ways. Make sure that the Cantata is in your Sunday bulletins. Make announcements in church. Tell family and friends. Post flyers at work and businesses that allow such announcements. To that end, I have attached a PDF file that has a simple one-page announcement. Print and post as many of these as you like. Use colored paper, if you have it. Make up your own poster, if you wish.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Cantata Poster 2014