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