From Jim Varner: Cantata Collection!!!

Dear Singers,

I have some news that I’m sure will add to your feelings of Christmas joy.  The collection Sunday evening amounted to $2,500.  That might be a record.

I’m sending our check and the checks that were in the collection to Elizabeth Rose Ministry today.  Mark and I will arrange for a “photo op” later for a symbolic handing over of the check and some publicity in the newspaper.  I wanted to get the funds to our charity as soon as possible.

So, with our music still ringing in our ears, and with the knowledge that our designated charity has a gift of $2,500, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!


Cantata Message from Jim Varner

Dear Singers,

I want Mark to have the first word after a Cantata performance, but I want to add comments of my own.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! You’re the best! Our performance Sunday evening was top notch. I had one person even tell me that it was professional quality. I don’t know about that, but we were everything a choir should be in that performance. Mark led us there, but we got there in large part because we worked hard, including outside of rehearsals, and because we performed as a cohesive unit, truly watching our wonderful conductor.

I appreciate everyone who sent a comment about Mark. If you didn’t, you could still send something to me, and I’ll make sure that Mark gets it.

I was truly impressed, but not surprised, by how well you sang that little song for Mark. You sang together, with enthusiasm, and enunciating the words clearly. And you did that with just one quick run through in the school. I was thrilled to direct you, but don’t worry, I know my limitations. What it really showed is how good this group is, and how well prepared we were, thanks to our real conductor, Mark Smith.

I don’t yet have a tally for the collection. I’ll give you that information as soon as I have it. I took the recording orders to Peish Video Monday afternoon. You should have the recordings very soon.

I have a favor to ask. If you have friends or family members who tell you that they have thought about singing in the Cantata, encourage them. But I’m asking you to go beyond that, and send me their email addresses. We’ll add them to the blog list, and they’ll get the announcement next year about the rehearsal schedule. Frankly, we don’t need to have a choir that is much larger than what we had this year (about 80 singers), but we need to welcome new singers as we say farewell to veterans who don’t return.

Finally, thank you to our singers (and in some cases, members of their families) who helped with any of the non-musical, but essential things that need to be done (risers, program preparation, handing out programs, taking up the collection, getting the collection to me, programming the heat in the UPC sanctuary, collecting and archiving turned-in scores, locking and unlocking the school, helping with publicity, helping with singer registration, keeping and maintaining the candles). I’ve not put names to those tasks for fear of leaving somebody out, and I may have overlooked a task of two. This is not a one-person show; it’s a shared project that works because of each and every one of you.

Merry Christmas!


Another Thrill of a Lifetime

Dear Friends

Wow. Number 20 was extra, extra special.  What a glorious evening.  You gfolks are amazing. This year was certainly one of the most fun to direct. Much of the time I just stood up there and smiled.  We peaked at the perfect time. The audience recognized our work, and was exceptionally appreciative (even stopping us mid-song – before the lullabye).  Truly, we had them eating right out of our hands.

On a personal level, your public tribute was not only a complete surprise, it was beautiful, tasteful and very moving. I was completely floored.  And, though I blush, your heartfelt written tributes are a treasured gift.  And your gifts are very generous and perfectly selected.
Once again, thank you for the thrill.  I am a lucky man and honored to share this special experience with all of you.
Bless you all, and I send heartfelt best wishes for a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday,

Cantata Music Notes

Cantata Music Notes – please mark your scores

Hi Folks,

As is tradition, below are some notes for our performance thisweekend.  Please mark your score where appropriate.  (I use  eyeballs).  Please spend time with your music .. even speaking through your part will be very helpful.   Notes below.  Ill see ya Saturday 🙂   Mark


General Notes:


  • Don’t Drag
  • Need to Watch
  • Need to Feel Pulse and underlying Subdivisions of the Beat
  • Need to be on time and not lagging behind Orchestra – sometimes it get
  • Tempo is set by you SEE (me) and NOT what you HEAR
  • Don’t Drag!!!!!!! … thank you 🙂
  • Watch Mark – please don’t retreat inside your scores where its safe

1-Christ is Come: (p.3)


  • Start-out with a bang, but leave room to grow bigger on each new key
  • Careful at p14 #68 .. bring volume down a tad so you can build up volume on each Halleluiah


2- Stars of Glory: (p.15)


  • Men  – Think the tune during the introduction and be ready for on-pitch, no scooping, entrance
  • Ladies – Note your verse is a touch faster
  • All – p. 18 #45 – need to be ready to bring our this sweet choral accompaniment to the solos. Need confidence here!
  • All – p. 20 #52-53 ****** Please Warn yourselves before this Page Turn …. must be ready for the top of p.20
  • All – #63 – go big or go home 🙂
  • Get softer (decrescendo) at #81


3 – What Child is This? -Lullaby (p.26)


  • Ladies – you have 4 measures introduction to feel the tempo before your entrance – feel it in 2 – 1.2.3,4.5.6
  • Men – anticipate your entrance at end of #6 and jump on the train
  • All – p.34 #62-> 63 … BE READY – last note in 62 .. leads into new tune “the babe the son”
  • Ladies – soft, gentle, luscious on Lullaby @ #75
  • Watch at ending #89-end


4 – Great God of Heaven (p.37)


  • Ladies .. need to get your tempo from the introduction.(#1-8)
  • Ladies – #9 – Super Silky Smooth (legato) melody
  • ALL –  Feel each measure in 1 (emphasize 1st note of each measure)
  • Men- #29 – Super Silky Smooth (legato) melody
  • ALL – Bigger,Broader, Louder, at p.41 #50
  • Crescendo (get louder) at  #75 (p.44)


5 – Gloria Fanfare/Light is Shining (p.45)


  • ALL – Page Turn p.45-46 is GLORIA Fanfare _ Please NOTE this on P. 45 so you are On Time and Loud at top of p.46
  • Suddenly soft at #23 .. a little louder at #25 and louder at #27 and VER LOUD at top p.7 (m.28-30)
  • Entrance at #87 (p.53) – Enter FF Fortissimo (LOUD)
  • Mark on p.53, that the Page turn 53 to 54 (#91) is suddenly Soft (sub) ”Glory to God” gets louder to the end.


6- Shepherds Carol/Lonely Midnight


  • Men – During Intro FEEL your Entrance Tempo starting at measure #16
  • Men – Be prepared to enter silky lusciously smooth at #20 on p.56
  • ALL – Be ready for entrance at top of p.58.  Its another page turn entrance! Make a note on previous page
  • ALL – No solos (on rests) at #60, 78, or 89
  • Crescendo (get louder) at  #69-71 (p.60-61)
  • All – #82-End – Celebrate! Let it all hang out!


7- Love Came Down


  • Ladies – feel your tempo from intro (please watch)
  • Christ”-mus”  – and no leaky “sssssssssss”
  • All – Feel TWO beats measure starting at #25
  • All – #32 get softer into “Love!, Love!” – THEN on page turn get louder for 2 measures – THEN Suddenly!! soft on #36 (Love, Love) – THEN Get louder #37-38
  • Men BE READY top of p.69 #44
  • Here again, at #49 get softer into Love!, Love!
  • Suddlenly soft top p.70 “Love! Love!” – crescendo 54-55
  • Joyfully – have fun at #59
  • Bottom p.72 #80 .. TUNE CHANGES – be ready


8- Good Christians


  • Orchestra has a fanfare at top of p.75 – YOU have a Fanfare at pickup to #19 (bottom of p.75) Rejoice! Rejoice!
  • At #31 I’d like to key this song moving at a good pace. Be ready for my tempo, spit out the words, and keep up.
  • AT #60 (p.82) it will slow down a bit – we wan this to be Big and Broad
  • PREPARE for repeat of FANFARE at #76 – last note top of p.85



KEY         OB = On Beat         PU = Pickup to Beat


OB – Can you hear

PU – (The) pray’r of the

PU – (On) bended

PU – (In the) shadow

OB – Empty

PU – (with) No more

OB – Turning

PU – (Cryin) Jesus

PU – (But if) I should

PU – (I) Pray my

OB – Can You

PU – (the) Hearts

OB – Aching for home

PU – (for) Something of

OB – Reaching hands

PU – (with) nothing to hold

PU – (but) Hope for a better day

PU – (a) better day

PU – (Cryin) Jesus

PU – (But if) if unknown roads

PU – (Give me) loving arms (Watch MARK)

#26 – Sing “words” as written

#26-#28 – emphasize syncopations

OB – Can you hear

PU – (the) voice of the children (SKIP TO LAST LINE p.7)




  • During Intro .. Feel triplet subdivisions (123,123,123,123)
  • Lots of “J” in Je-sus
  • Syllable “-sus” clip it short and please .. no leaky “ssssss”
  • Glory = Glow-rih
  • Have Fun
  • Confident, exaggerated syncopations syncopations – practice by speaking thru the text
  • On bottom of page 7 … make a note that page turn to 8 is “Some Traveled North ….” section.  we need to be better prepared for this change
  • The accompaniment stops during p.8 .. for some reason we slow down here.. need to keep moving
  • Grab a note on final measure.  don’t wimp out
  • Have fun!  Lots of Fun!

Message, Carols, Recording Order Sheet

From Jim Varner:

Dear Singers,

This message has three parts:  Information about riser pick-up and set-up; carol lyrics; order form for recordings.


Please help when/where you can.

Friday – Meet Dan Connors at 1:30 PM at St. Ann’s to help pick up risers at the two locations and put them in St. Ann’s.  If you can help with this, please get in touch with Dan ( or call him at 435-1037).

Saturday – Be at St. Ann’s at 9:00 AM for riser set-up.  If there is a funeral, this time will be moved to after the funeral.

Saturday – Help take down risers after rehearsal

Sunday – Be at St. Ann’s at 3:30 PM for riser set-up

Sunday – Help take down risers after rehearsal

Monday – Be at St. Ann’s at 9:00 AM to help load risers onto the truck and then to help unload the risers at the two locations.

Carol lyrics: See the attached file.  I suggest that you print this and put that page in your music folder.

Order form for recordings:  In case you want to order a recording, and you didn’t pick up a form on Sunday, see the attached file for the form.  You may return completed forms to me (or to Linda) on Saturday or Sunday.  Please include a check or the exact amount in cash.  I’ll take the completed forms/payments to Bob Peisher.  You can send Bob your completed form/payment directly, if you wish.



Carol lyrics

Recording Order Form 2017

Invitation from Jim and Linda Varner


From Jim & Linda Varner:

Linda and I invite you to a reception at our house after the Cantata performance Sunday
evening, December 10 th . 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. 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 porch 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). If you park on Jones Street, please make sure you are in the legal parking area,
and do not park across from the house and garage on the corner. The person who lives
there gets very upset if people park across from his house or garage. You may also park
on Cleveland Avenue, the street parallel to Seneca Road that is to the west, but that’s a
longer walk (but only about five minutes).

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. Send an email to

Jim and Linda Varner

Cantata Message and Poster from Jim

Dear Singers,

Thanks for the reminder about a flyer or poster for the Cantata performance. The
attached file has a Cantata Poster 2017 that you can print and post wherever you see fit –
your church, workplace, stores where you shop, etc. Print as many as you need. Word
of mouth is also good advertising, so remind your family, friends, co-workers, fellow
church members, club members, classmates, etc. about the Cantata performance on
Dec. 10 th in St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church at 7 PM.

I’ll repeat some reminders from last evening’s rehearsal: For the performance, please
wear white on top and black on the bottom (white blouse, sweater, turtleneck, white
shirt and tie for the men). Women may wear pants or skirts. You may add some color,
such as a scarf. Men, you may wear a Christmas tie. Everybody should wear black shoes
and black stockings/socks.

Please have your music in a black folder. A simple paper folder is acceptable. It’s a good
idea to punch holes in your music and attached the music to the folder. You really don’t
want your music to slide out of the folder during the performance.

Practice, practice, practice! It’s a good idea to do some practicing every day. That keeps
the music fresh in your mind. You don’t need to sing everything every day, but sing
something. Make note of any places where you are less certain, and make it a point to
review those. How do you find your starting note of the next section of music? Here’s
what I do. I locate that note in the music that comes before the measure where I come
in. Sometimes the note is several measures back, but I listen for that note and try to
lock it in. I often find the note in what the sopranos or altos are singing. It might be
that another voice part ends on a note adjacent to my starting note, so I work with that.
Maybe you start on the same note you ended the last section with. Mark this “trigger”
note in your music. This reminds you to listen for that note, and it also reminds you that
you need to be ready to start singing again. And please spend some time just reviewing
the words. As singers, we need to “know” the music, and that includes knowing the

We have one more rehearsal at UPC, Sunday evening, Dec. 3 rd . We’ll have the musicians
with us for much of that rehearsal. Our final rehearsal will be Dec. 9 th , in St. Ann’s,
starting at 10:00 AM. Dress warmly, and wear comfortable shoes. Have some water
with you.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication.


Cantata Poster 2017

Cantata: Following up .. and buckling down

Hi All
Following up on Sunday’s rehearsal… please read carefully

Hallelujah Chorus Parts

I like to worry early, and now we are now past early … Folks, we have a wonderful sound, and you are a joy to work with … but to be honest, on the whole, our attendance has been unpredictable.  Please know that we still have a way to go in order to be ready for performance.   We need to apply ourselves now or we will be too nervous to enjoy our performance.  Know that if we can learn this music with confidence, the joy of performance can be a thrill of a lifetime.

3 Choir-Only Rehearsals Remaining

  • Sun. Nov. 19th
  • Sun. Nov. 26th – we need to be good to go for Instr.
  • Sun. Dec 3 w/Instruments
  • Sat.  Dec 9 at 10 am St Anns – Dress
  • Sun. Dec 10th 5:15 on risers – Performance

If you didn’t get this music last week please print out and bring to rehearsal..

Other Cantata Music samples for practice can be found here:

If you use the Soundcloud App on your phone:
Or you can play or download the files from Dropbox: 



Selected Charity Results for Cantata

Dear Singers,

The people have spoken, and our chosen charity this year is Elizabeth Rose Ministries.
Elizabeth Rose Ministries received 25 votes, which was the most by a wide margin.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the Salvation Army, Hornell each had 8 votes. The
Pregnancy Resource Center of the Valleys had 7 votes. Faith in Action and the Hornell
Animal Shelter each had 6 votes. St. James Hospital had 5 votes. CHAMP of Pro-Action,
Hornell Community Garden, and Steuben County Rural Ministry each had 2 votes. St.
Ann’s Academy had 1 vote.

Thanks to everyone who suggested a charity. They are all worthy of support, of course,
but as a group, we can be proud that Elizabeth Rose Ministries will receive a significant
contribution to its work, thanks to the free-will offering taken up during the Cantata. As
I remind our audience, the expenses of the Cantata are borne by the singers by
purchasing their music. Mark, Pat, and the musicians donate their time. The United
Presbyterian Church and St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church (Our Lady of the Valley)
donate the use of their facilities. The entire offering goes to our designated charity, and
you are a large part of making that possible. THANK YOU!


Found voice part practice recordings to Wonderful Child and A La Nanita


This evening I found these voice part practice recordings for A La Nanita & Prayer of the Children… please use these to practice your part: .. Enjoy


For Download:

On Soundcloud:


For Download:

On Soundcloud: