Mountain Melody Women’s Chorus Presents Our Winter Concert Series: “Winter Phoenix Rising–Up From The Ashes of the Butte Fire”

The human voice is an instrument with the power to uplift, calm, soothe, excite and move us in a very visceral way. When you gather together many voices, singing different parts arranged in a piece of music, that impact is amplified and taken to another level. The women in Mountain Melody will move you with the beauty of their voices, their “special blend” of harmony and their soulful sound.

Director Julia Shelby is the guiding hand behind Mountain Melody, after forming the chorus in 2005, with a small group of friends who enjoyed singing together. The chorus has grown in size, and with the addition of Marge Biagi-Castro on piano, the music has become even more sophisticated.

All the individual voices work diligently to produce the richly resonant and harmonic tones, highlighting the versatility of the ensemble. With their diverse musical backgrounds, each singer adds a special flavor to the music. The selection of songs spans many genres, including popular songs, Broadway melodies, classical, jazz, and folk songs.

We are sure you will enjoy the program, because it is with great joy that we create and share our music with you.

Please visit the Events page to see our holiday concert schedule:

Special Season for Mountain Melody

This is a special season for Mountain Melody, as it is the culmination of our ten year anniversary, and also a time for coming together and celebrating our community of singers, with four of our members losing their homes in the devastating Butte Fire in September.

As these members look forward to rebuilding their homes and lives, all of us can find “comfort and joy” in the beautiful music in this holiday program.

The rich tradition of sacred choral music is represented in the mysterious and reverent a capella “Hymn to the Theotokos,” the rousing carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and a medley of much loved Christmas tunes in “Carols Three.”

More crowd pleasers include: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas,” and the lovely “Beautiful December.”
There is truly something for everyone in this delightful program of seasonal songs, showcasing the beautiful blend and harmonious voices of the Mountain Melody Women’s Chorus.

Please join us at one of our performances.

The Joy and Benefits of Memorization

Put Down the Music

Put Down the Music

The following article was shared with Mountain Melody, and it perfectly sums up the joy
and benefits of memorization.
The brain can be a tricky fellow, but it really is amazing how memorization works.
When you least expect it, the words and music can just come out of your mouth when you need it most.
And need it we do — performances are coming up next week!
So keep on memorizing!


Studies prove that the more the brain is exercised, the stronger it gets. According to neurologist Richard M. Restak, author of Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot, ” unlike other organs that eventually wear out with repeated and sustained use, the brain actually improves the more we challenge it….The more we exercise it, the better it performs and the better we feel.”

Another practical reason: it’s good for your heart. The March 2003 issue of GreatLife Magazine, referring to a recent article in the International Journal of Cardiology, extolled the effects reciting poetry has on your heart. “These two scientists found that the stress-releasing effect of guided recitation of poetry could lead to deep heart relaxation afterward….after reciting poetry (for half and hour), participants’ heart rates slowed to match their breathing rates in ‘harmonic interaction.'”

Finally, if those very encouraging studies aren’t good enough for you, here’s this: memorizing poetry proves to you that you can accomplish something complicated. Recognizing that about yourself is no small potatoes. It’s my answer to those who roll their eyes when considering algebra, saying (all together now) “I’ll never use this when I grow up. What’s the point?” The point is this: while I understand (I’m not a fan of algebra), proving to yourself that you can solve a difficult problem is superb for your self-esteem. Afterwards you can look at those equations and (a) remember when you didn’t understand and (b) know the pride you have in yourself is well-deserved.

But if memorizing poetry were only good for me—if that’s all it was, if it were like taking those dreary vitamins every morning—I’d have stopped long before now.

To be honest with you, it’s amazing. It’s—I have no other word for it—magic.
I struggle for days with a stanza or a couple of lines, and then suddenly I wake up and they’re there. They’re in me. When they’re called, they come.

And I like knowing these poems. I like hearing their sounds in my mouth. I like knowing I can do this, can memorize them, and that I have them in my head ready to come out. In spite of it being good for my heart and my brain, memorizing these poems so I can recite them is utter pleasure—hedonistic and sensual, pure and simple.

Susan Rushton — Author and Reporter @ Large
(And Julie’s sister)

MM Stories: Julie S., Choir Director and Fearless Leader

Julie and Marge

Julie and Marge

Before Bill and I moved to Mountain Ranch, I sang with Peninsula Women’s Chorus in Palo Alto for many years. Even after moving to Mountain Ranch I continued to commute weekly for rehearsal and of course performances. PWC traveled internationally to perform in competitions and festivals. It was a fabulous experience. I finally got tired of commuting, what with work, husband, and full life in the foothills. I looked and listened to many local choirs and, frankly, didn’t find one that suited me. As a nurse, I had the opportunity to work with Marta (another nurse), who casually said she sang with a few women around the piano now and then. She asked if I would be interested in directing them in singing as a group. ‘What the heck’, I thought. And so, we had our first ‘rehearsal’ at our house in the fall of 2005. And Mountain Melody was born.

My husband, Bill, had asked me a few years before if I would want to start my own chorus, and I was horrified at the idea. I don’t conduct, I sing. The more I thought about it, and as situations changed, when Marta asked, it seemed to fit. I guess I ‘grew’ into the idea. As a member of Peninsula Women’s Chorus I had the amazing opportunity to have Patricia Hennings and Martin Benvenuto as artistic directors. I was like a sponge, paying attention, figuring out how they were able to communicate through gesture their interpretation of song. It was like having a voice lesson every week. I loved it, learned lots and sang amazing songs.

I have become a member of ACDA, American Choral Directors Association which has afforded me the opportunity to attend conductor workshops and nationally and internationally acclaimed directors and composers. As we know, learning never stops.

PWC is my heart choir and now I have my new mountain heart chorus in Mountain Melody. The women who sing in MM are talented, dedicated and extremely hard-working. Most of us are working women, mostly not spring chickens, though we have a few young women. We work at ‘day jobs’ and arrive for weekly rehearsal tired, and we leave rehearsal tired but exhilarated. This is what it takes to be good at what we do.

In the future, I would love for Mountain Melody to travel to festivals. Actually, we have participated in the Foothills Choral Festival and, if I do say so myself, we quite impressed the audience. It would be lovely to travel further afield sharing our music.

Julia S., Choir Director and Fearless Leader