An End To This Chapter Of Our Journey!

As the night comes to a close so does our Lady Cove tour! As some of us re-arrange, stuff and possibly leave un-needed items in our suitcases (all the while wondering how we possibly could have bought so much…) we prepare for our return home tomorrow. Some are spending the last few hours taking in as much of Prague and the beer as they can, while others are in their beds mentally preparing for the long flights tomorrow and pitting the people who may be doing it hung over! There were many conversations today about how the cheap beer will be missed but the free water in Canada will certainly be a blessing! 🙂

After an incredible week in Riga, Latvia some of us headed home while others went on to Prague, Czech Republic. After an intense week of rehearsals and competition this was definitely needed and well taken advantage of. Below are some highlights of Prague that different people experienced!

Sedlic Ossuary aka Bone Church in Kutná Hora. Over 40 000 skeletons in this cemetery chapel. This is one of 4 pyramids where the bones are just laid on top of each other with nothing holding it together. Somehow it has remained structurally sound.

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Huge bone chandelier, that contains at least one of every bone in the human body.

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St. Barbara’s Church, Kutna Hora. Gothic architecture

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Delicious Beef, whipped cream and jam dinner!

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Hrad Kost Castle

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Medieval Restaurant! Food was delicious, all cooked without the use of modern technology! Also, the servers certainly acted the part! There was a lot of yelling…

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Dinner Boat Cruise on the Vltava river!

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Don Giovanni in the Teatro di Praga theatre where Mozart himself conducted the world premiere in 1787!

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Terezin Concentration Camp

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Beethoven Manuscripts! Photo Cred to Lori Shortall for almost being kicked out because of it!

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Some People Went to the Zoo!

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Some people even went to a sex machines museum. I will not add photos for this one…

A couple of us hiked up to Prague castle today in the blazing heat with over 200 stairs… Lets just say we sweat a little bit. We entered one of the many courtyards and found a statue where people were touching it inappropriately, we were told that it will give you good luck. So we did it…

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There was also a lot of sitting around and enjoying the view and the heat with a refreshing beverage!

 

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The final day of tour we found out some very exciting news!! Sarah and Dave Halliday are getting married!! Congratulations you two! 🙂 Such a perfect way to end this amazing tour.

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Our final evening of tour we had a goodbye dinner!!

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These past two weeks have been such an amazing time and experience. We as a choir have grown so much with the preparations of competition, pulling together and working as a family unit who love, respect and care for each person. This did not just happen for the members on tour but also the members who were not here but at home. Those who sent their love, those who planned a get together to show their support and to those who cheered us on with inspiring and positive messages. We are so proud to belong to an amazing community who stop at nothing to show their love and support. Thank you to everyone who has been by our sides during this incredible journey! We love you! 🙂

 

~~Katie Barrett

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Watch What Happens When 43 Women and Their Entourage Invade Riga. You Won’t Believe Your Eyes.

Since their arrival in Riga on Monday, the women of Lady Cove have been documenting the incredible things Latvia has to offer: highly amusing, slightly depressing, and just plain unique. You won’t look at Riga the same way again.

1. A Man and His Goat

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(Photo credit Maria Conkey)
One of the original BAHs* of Lady Cove, Dave Halliday, made a new friend. Not too baaaaad.
*BAHs = Boyfriends and Husbands

2. Gangsta Coke Bottles

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It brings new meaning to “pop a wheelie”

3. Look What We Found!!!!

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…SIKE!!!!! We brought the Hawkins with us 😉

4. Not So Much a Time

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They can keep their invite to this party, thankyouverymuch.

5. I Don’t Even Know What This Is

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…but I want one. Wonder what the bys in downtown St. John’s would think of she.

6. Busking

I’ve already reserved my spot in front of Atlantic Place. Kazoo jams? Knows now.

7. Bulls Balls

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(Photo credit Sarah McDonald)
Wonder what they’d think of cod tongues…

8. Sad Tuba

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Nothing brings you down like a bass line.

9. Happier Tuba(s)

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We found our tuba friend in front of his home “bass” and had a photo shoot. We located his French Horn pal and they serenaded us with a Canadian tune, Four Strong Winds.

10. Diva Pig

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This random pig mascot had been wandering around the Duke of Riga for days, and finally I approached her and her leiderhosen-clad pal for a picture. When asked if she’d high five me, she shook her head no! I had to settle for hamming it up in this pose. I didn’t want to hog any more of their time, so I hoofed it out of there. I was happier than a pig in, well, you know.

11. Lady Cove Chant

This chant is a variation on an ancient West End tradition. Thanks to Rob Power for sharing the old ways of Beaconsfield High School (yay Saxons!)
Chick chick chicka boo, chicka boo rock, yah yah!

Proper times had by all. A great week with incredible experiences and lots of fun with wonderful people. Lllllllots of lllllllove, Llllllatvia!!!!!
Catherine(s) out!

– Kathy Conway-Ward and Catherine Tansley

Atvadas…Farewell

“Canada! LLLet’s Go!”

This command is one we have become accustomed to obeying. It was often bellowed in our direction by our 5 ft. petite Latvian Choir Assistant, Anete. She might be a tiny package but she’s not afraid to be assertive. This skill comes in handy not only in her profession, but especially with a group of excited, strong women who barely stop talking long enough to take a breath. Anete is a human rights lawyer from Riga who has taken her own vacation time to volunteer with the World Choir Games. This alone may give you insight as to her strength of character. How many people do that? She is amazing. Anete has gone above and beyond to organize things for our group – from meals and taxis to sight-seeing tours and answering our many questions about Riga. As with most everyone in Latvia, Anete has sung in choirs most of her life, and was gracious enough help us with our Latvian pronunciation. Again – amazing. She has executed all of these tasks with professionalism, patience and humor. We love her. She has become our sister and we share our ‘heart’ with her.

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As our World Choir Games experience comes to a close, we are reflective and grateful. We say goodbye to those Lady Cove members who leave us to return home while we move on to ‘other worldly’ adventures . What a memorable week this had been! We think about how much money, support and blood, sweat and tears it took to get here; how we laid it all out there for the choral world to soak up and how beautiful this experience has been for Lady Cove – musically and as a community. We are grateful for such a fierce yet empathetic leader (the unbelievably talented, beautiful Kellie Walsh – a world class conductor, musician and friend), for all the choirs and people we have met in gorgeous Latvia – and when we say gorgeous, we mean physically AND in their souls – and we are grateful for Anete – this tiny, sweet Latvian Lioness whose words will always ring in our hearts. Wherever Lady Cove takes us we will undoubtedly start our journey with, “Canada! LLLets’s Go!”

~~With love, Cheri Carroll and Katie Sullivan

Excuse me… There’s something in my eye…

I’ve been through this before (in 2012 with Newman Sound), I said. I’m a guy, I said. This whole business of sitting alongside my friend Kellie in the reserved seating area for conductors and artistic directors and waiting for the results to be announced… It’ll be fun. Piece of cake. Nothing to it. Been here before. Done this. I’m a pro. Bring it on. So there we were at the awards ceremony last night waiting for Lady Cove’s turn to be announced as among the best of the best of the Sacred Music category. I was making stupid, lame, juvenile comments to Kellie, only to cover up my growing anxiety and nausea. I found myself after nearly an hour covering my sweating face with my clammy palms and leaning over with my upper torso parallel to the floor, utterly making a fool of myself alongside the Chinese kids sitting on the other side of me. We placed among the Gold standard at these highly prestigious World Choir Games in the Sacred Music category. When you achieve a certain rank, the doors of opportunity open up to you in music… and Lady Cove had accomplished that rank. No problem that we didn’t earn THE highest score. We were fabulous, and coming from a little place perennially with the odds against us, clinging to the edge of the land in the North Atlantic Ocean. We’re tough, resilient, determined, proud, all of that. So Kellie and I made our way out to the atrium of the stadium to wait for the singers, holding the gold medallion and certificate with “GOLD” emblazoned on it. SO much to be proud of and nothing to cry about at all. Except I did. And the harder I tried not to, the harder I cried. Then I felt foolish. Then I cried more because I felt foolish. Then I looked around and saw that I was the only one crying. Someone please make it stop. Then Cheri came over and hugged me. Then Julia. Then Donna. Well, thanks for the affection, ladies, but you’re only making me cry harder. And here’s why. It was not out of disappointment at not being ranked higher. Gold? A Newfoundland choir in Latvia? Are you kidding me? Outstanding. It was not out of sadness of any sort. While I was on the bus back to the hotel alongside my beloved, I thought immediately about some research I happen to be doing about the work of musicians and how only sports compares in terms of how much of one’s life from early childhood onward is dedicated to perfecting such a refined skill. I thought then about millionaire football, soccer, baseball and hockey players reduced to a pool of tears after either winning or losing a major championship. I totally get it now. I bawled last night not because of this notion of “winning” or “losing” (because, seriously, that does not matter to me whatsoever). I wept because I was speechless… Profoundly proud to be a musician among musicians competing and performing alongside other musicians to be the best…. Not the best at this competition (well…., yes of course that), but to give OUR own best. And, folks…. That’s what happened. Lady Cove peaked this week in Riga. The most artful, expressive, intensive, loving, giving, sensitive and sincere performances I have ever heard out of any group ever anywhere anytime. And I was there with them. In rehearsal. In the recording studio. On stage. For eleven years. To get to this moment of best-ness. In no way, shape, or form, could we have possibly worked harder and performed more beautifully. When I was forced to haul my handkerchief out of my pocket and could no longer pretend to be nonchalant, I was in fact the exact opposite of sad and disappointed. There are no words to describe my joy, delight, pride… all mixed with exhaustion… from this collective effort. The singers and Kellie might beg to differ, but I will charge forward from this experience believing that I am the proudest member of Lady Cove Women’s Choir. Now and forever. Onward and upward. Congratulations, Ladies. I love you all.

~~ Dave Chafe

Competition Day!

Labrīt! (good morning!)

Today was the day of our second competition, which we have anxiously been awaiting; the Women’s Choir category! Off to an early start, our wake up call was 6:00 am in order to give our bodies enough time to fully wake up. This is so we could sound our best for our big day. 

Many thanks to Doreen who arranged an early breakfast for us at the hotel!

We warmed up for our ten minute dress rehearsal, which was at the Latvian university (our concert venue). It went very smoothly thanks to a very organized Kellie. 

Time for the competition!  As a group, we feel our performance went brilliantly! Remember Me and Salve Regina have never felt so controlled and Other Worldly Games has never been scarier, we definitely frightened the audience! Hopefully the judges too! It was a very gratifying and emotional experience that brought us closer together, and the choir definitely does not take for granted. 

After a free afternoon, some spent outside at the markets or by others napping, we went to the first awards ceremonies of the eighth World Choir Game at the Arena Riga. 

If you have not yet heard, Lady Cove, after much suspense, received a gold medal standing with a mark of 87.63.  Eleventh  over all out of a whopping 42 choirs in the champions sacred music category! 

We are very excited to have been awarded a gold medal at such an internationally acclaimed event, it means the world to us! 

Tomorrow morning we will find out how we did in today’s category. Fingers crossed! 

Congratulations Lady Cove!! 

 

~~Love Megan Dobbin and Samantha Evans

Finding Our Equilibrium

Today, Lady Cove is spending a good part of our time preparing for tomorrow’s competition performance. Now, you might say, surely they must know their music by now. (Someone once asked me, during music school, why I was required to take one-on-one lessons. “Don’t you already know how to play the piano?”) 

Many of you will never have been to a Lady Cove rehearsal. Despite that we are far from home, it looks pretty much like you might expect. Don’t be fooled. This rehearsal is the most critical yet. We are preparing to find our balance together in the competition tomorrow.

To succeed, we must find the centre of gravity together, the sweet spot at which the music will remain poised in midair, not too sharp, not too flat, nor too loud or soft, and a thousand other variables, each of us reacting and adapting as we move through different musical moments. It is not static. It cannot be forced. It can be counterintuitive: if something is awry, the solution is not in singing, but in listening. We must wait for the equilibrium to arrive and settle us into an even keel as a collective.

I don’t want you to think that at Lady Cove rehearsals, we just sit around waiting for the music to come to us. By no means! Every crescendo, every cutoff, every note has been carefully rehearsed. But after that, in performance, is where the really special choral moments can be found. 

It may sound as though a good Newfoundland gust (or a Baltic breeze, as the case may be) might knock us off track, but not so. Once locked in, balanced, poised, Lady Cove is prepared to be at its the best. Balanced motion is not fragile; it is not wispy and slight. It is adaptable and flexible, and as a result, grounded and steadfast.

The beauty, and the challenge, is that none of us can do this by our lonesome. It is only in the collective that any of us can transcend the sum of our parts. What we’re rehearsing is to get to a place where the music can spin up above us – balanced, floating, poised in the room, and remain there – and, with any luck, spin the judges into the fold of its own accord.

Good luck, Lady Cove, we’ll see you on the other side.

 

~~Ruth Trask

Lllllladies, Lllllet’s Go!!

Today was the day of our first competition! The Sacred Music Category. We had a free morning to rest, shop, experience the amazing culture that Riga has to offer, whatever our hearts desired! Alanna and Jen started their day with some excercise and a lovely breakfast, while I decided to sleep in until 10am!! 10AM!! Dave and I went on a Boat Tour down the Riga River with Rob and Kellie and it was breath taking. For someone who usually gets stomach sick by looking at a docked boat, I did very well! It was an experience I’ll never forget. We had lunch at a sweet café on this sweet day. The Café was appropriately named “Sweet Day Café.”

 

This afternoon, we had a fine tuning rehearsal where Lady Cove connected on a level we have never felt before. Ensuring blend, note accuracy, and emotional connectivity. There may or may not have been a few tears shed as we shared our expressions during “Snow Angel” which is one of our most beloved songs to sing. The way the women in this choir truly love each other is something that cannot be explained or learned. It is just felt and we all know how special it is.

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We met at 8pm all dressed up in our uniforms, primped hair, and complete with our heart necklaces, which represented all of our Lady Covers who couldn’t be on this trip with us! Love you all!!! A special visit from our Latvian friend, Gunta was awesome. Gunta has been a huge asset in helping us pronounce the Latvian language in one of our pieces in the Women’s Category that will be happening on Saturday. She was moved by our singing and Cheri, who has been corresponding with her regularly, gave her a lovely thank you gift from Newfoundland on our behalf. Thank you Gunta!! Or, should I say “Paldies, Gunta!!”

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So, the time came to sing!! It started out with a lot waiting outside in the wind and a 10 minute recess before our set. Nerves were at an all time high, but we pulled it together, focused, and sang with a heart and a half! It was one of the best times we have ever performed. We trusted each other, felt comfortable, and put our game faces on. Who knew my cheeks and eyes twitched that much when I’m nervous? Not me. We were sooooo pleased! It honestly doesn’t matter if we win, we did our best and we couldn’t be happier!

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We went out to celebrate at our spot “The Upper Deck” with a two drink maximum (we do have to compete again! J) We shared some food, drinks, laughs, and relaxed. It was a great way to unwind and celebrate. On our way back, a bike taxi driver came up to Jen Hart and Sarah Nolan and said “Lllllladies, Llllet’s go!!” We already did, taxi man. We already did.

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Gooooooood night!!! XOXO

 

 ~~Sarah Halliday

Hot off the presses!! The Riga 2014 World Choir Games are open!!

After an intense day of preparation, the shortest dress rehearsal known to man/womenkind (10 mins), and meal lines, Lady Cove was proud to represent Canada, and more specifically Newfoundland and Labrador at the opening ceremonies of The World Choir Games!

Walking into Riga Arena in our casual LC apparel (necklaces included of course!) we were bombarded by cheers and screams reminiscent of World Cup soccer finals. We, of course, promptly joined in with the celebration waving our Canada flags, LC flag and making trades with new friends.

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The energy in the stadium was incredible, especially when the participating choirs countries and flags were being announced. (I would pay good money to hear a ‘cheer off’ between the USA and South Africa.)

After speeches from diplomats and organizers, the televised ceremony got underway with the ringing of the official World Choir Games bell, one chime for each participating continent. While the President of Interkultur did a very good job, I think our Tam Tam player Dave Chafe would have killed it.

The evening progressed into a series of songs and dances reflecting Latvian culture, innovation and perseverance. Not honestly knowing a great deal about Latvian culture (other than what’s on good ol’ Wikipedia) it was very enjoyable to see what they presented to the world. Newly commissioned works with choir, soloist and orchestra from top composers like Erik Esenvalds dominated the evening musically, but a very beautiful ballet and orchestra piece broke up the choral sound with a reflection on the meaning of ‘touch’.

The final work was something to be seen. Traditional folk singers started the piece individually, slowly coming together to create a beautiful, full. Baltic choral sound which was interrupted by a group of young dancers who effortlessly reflected the summer solstice through intricate jumping and spinning patterns and a very creative use of space and props. The whole piece was absolutely mesmerizing and so well executed.

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Sitting and being able to take in the near perfect choral singing of a huge massed choir, the excitement of the participating choirs, and the care and honour reflected in the organizers, I knew we were in the middle of something very special. While the purpose of The World Choir Games is competition, the essence, kindness and warmth of everyone we came in contact with shows choral singing is no ordinary community. The importance of cross choir support, dedication to the craft and the sharing of our hard work is essential to creating a festival of this kind, and that is what I will be taking with me from Riga. Well, that and some amber.

Good night, and fingers crossed for tomorrow!

 

~~Love, Abra Whitney

TRAVELLING IN GROUPS, DRESS REHEARSALS AND TRUST EXERCISES

As a former Greyhound bus addict and someone who has willingly spent at least half of her piteous life’s savings voyaging from one city to the next, the idea of travelling in a large group is both liberating and bizarre.

On the one hand, if I ever need a Tylenol, some nail clippers, a pair of leggings without holes, or a hug, there are 40-ish women with open arms and more travel supplies than Martha Stewart’s craft kit.

On the other hand, I sometimes feel like a sheep being herded by some sort of light-haired Latvian dog, frantically speed-walking from one gorgeous old building to the next as the sun beats down on my white, white body. It’s not a bad feeling, but a distinct one that peaked at our 10-minute dress rehearsal this morning.

In preparation for our performance tomorrow (the sacred set) we were given AN ENTIRE TEN MINUTES of rehearsal time at the competition venue to familiarize ourselves with the space. Given that our repertoire takes about 20 minutes to sing, 10 minutes felt pretty dang rushed.

We lingered anxiously in three separate waiting areas, becoming increasingly silent and serious each time someone in a red shirt herded us closer to the Church’s stage.

From the outside, the venue looked like it was going to be a majestic, reverberant choir utopia, but from the inside felt more like singing on the edge of Cape Spear on a windy day, all of us wearing one ear plug each.

Given the rehearsal’s time restraint, we sang in a way that made me feel like a mix of Shoshana from the HBO show Girls, and Forest Gump when he first realizes he rocks at running. Kellie exuded a level of focus I will never be able to replicate, and the entire thing felt more like 10 seconds than 10 minutes.

When it was all said and done, we waved sympathetically to the other herds of singing sheep enduring the same process and went on our baffled way.

The one thing most of us took away from that rehearsal was “Wow. I cannot hear anything other than [insert any voice part]” or in my case “Am I the only alto 2 singing? Why is my voice so weird and shaky? This is terrifying.”

This afternoon we practiced outside in an effort to get used to singing in an equally unnerving space. It was at that time I realized the level of trust necessary for us to succeed at tomorrow’s performance.

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As a first year Lady Cover I’m more than aware that this particular choir is more of a family than a group of singers. The lady-love is evident to most anyone who has crossed the choir’s path, and with that type of love comes a pretty cool level of musical trust.  As a newcomer, I consider myself more of a distant cousin in this family than a full-on sibling, but if tomorrow is going to work, that’s going to have to change. I’ve got to become a full-on sister or aunt or nan or something.

In such a terrifying space as tomorrow’s venue, I have to trustthat my fellow alto 2s are going to join me on that scary entrance in Hosanna.

I have to trust that when Kellie gestures for us to sing louder, we have to do it, even if it feels like we’re already belting.

I have to trust our collective musical mind; that the phrasing we’ve practiced a million times will happen; that the core emotion of each song will somehow shine through despite the nerves.

I have to trust myself. That the work I’ve put in is worth it, and tomorrow is going to be a blast.

So here’s to trust, and here’s to tomorrow.

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Wish us luck!

~~Erin Eaton

We represent Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

We represent Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

We represent our community of musicians, supporters, families and audiences who wish us well and inspire us to sing.

We represent women, mothers, sisters, friends, girls who share our stories, laughter, and lives.

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We represent our past.  We bring to Latvia the spirit of our grandmothers and mothers who lived a different Newfoundland life, a life committed to raising families and living off the land and sea.  In 1920, could our grandmothers have even imagined the daughters of their unborn  sons gallivanting half way across the world to sing in a choral competition on an international stage in a former soviet republic?  Because of our our strong female heritage and strength, we can!

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So, we honour them here in Latvia. We acknowledge them and carry them in our hearts.  We sing for them, our grandmothers and mothers. And we sing for our future, our daughters, our children.

Who knows where our daughters and sons will carry this torch? Perhaps in sixty years, we will be in awe when a journey is made to the moon for the intergalactic choir games!!! Certainly, that is what my grandmother would have thought of Riga, Latvia.

~~Julia Halfyard