Author: Jan Clayton

Two Worlds Collide

Two Worlds Collide

By Colin Seymour, Tenor, Resounding Achord and Bear-a-Tones

My worlds will collide October 7 at our Resounding Achord’s A Musicale Fundraiser, as I’ve lured my fellow Bear-a-Tones over to St. Francis Episcopal Church to perform a couple of our songs. We’re an a cappella octet that sings American Songbook standards, Four Freshmen arrangements, barbershop, novelty songs, and more.

I won’t be the only one that night who will be revealing what he does musically outside Resounding Achord. I’ll bet more than half the singers in Resounding Achord (RA) consider RA to be their primary performance outlet – but not necessarily their only outlet. Many are in church choirs and others are or have been members of choirs we admire, or they play instruments in bands of various sizes. Some teach music. We even have a rock vocalist or two in our midst.

I was in a rock group myself from 1999 to 2002 and then joined the Bear-A-Tones in 2003. I’ve only recently shed my new-guy status. The Bear-a-Tones trace their roots to 1948, the year the UC Berkeley men’s octet was founded by the same fellow who founded our octet as a South Bay quartet in 1968. Two other Berkeley octet founders eventually contributed songs to the Bear-a-Tones family as the group morphed into an octet in the late 1980s. We admitted a bass who had not sung at Cal, and that later opened the door for me, despite my University of Missouri past, when I was right for a top-tenor position in 2003.

What a great fit. I came aboard already loving the Cal pep songs that also are part of our repertoire of 100 songs or so, and I was eager to sing jazzy arrangements of “Autumn Leaves” and “All the Things You Are” again after too many decades of not being available for such groups.

We meet each Monday at one another’s homes. The current number of Cal alums in the octet is five. Most of us have wives who are involved with the group socially. It’s sort of a gentlemen’s club, whereas RA feels more like graduate school, and frankly RA is more rigorous.

Although the Bear-a-Tones perform three to 10 times a year, including the UC octet reunion each March, and are eager to perform more, those weekly rehearsals are what sustain us. There’s lots of singing, yes, but it’s liberally mixed with quaffing and munching, and talking about our vacations and relatives, current events, and life’s challenges.

I’ll be in the Bear-a-Tones as long as the group and I both exist. Although I am a relatively new RA member, it adds a lot of dimensions to my musical life that would otherwise be missing. I’m lucky to be in these two groups.

Come see the Bear-a-Tones, several talented RA members, and a bunch of amazing high school students on Saturday at A Musicale Fundraiser and support RA’s outreach programs at the same time.

The Cost of Light

The Cost of Light

by Kristina Nakagawa, Artistic Director, Resounding Achord

I attended a stewardship dinner this past weekend for another organization that I am a part of, and I heard a fantastic story about a grandfather and his grand-daughters at Christmas. Here is a truncated version for you:

The grandfather asked the girls what they would like for their gift, and after much discussion they decided upon a globe, because they had been studying geography in school and they really enjoyed the globe in their classroom. So, grandpa went shopping, found a really nice globe, and had it wrapped all fancy for the holiday.When the girls opened the gift on Christmas morning, they were visibly underwhelmed. Later that day, the grandfather asked the girls what was wrong with the gift. They hesitantly told him that while the globe they got was very nice and they were grateful for it, the one at their school was much cooler. “It plugs into the wall and lights up and it’s just so amazing!”

Grandfather decided to remedy the situation the next day, braving the after-Christmas crowds and going to multiple stores to find the globe of their dreams. He found one that fit the bill, once again had it expertly wrapped, and delivered it to his grand-daughters. They opened it, and immediately took him into their parents’ walk-in-closet, which had an electrical outlet, and could be made dark enough to really enjoy the globe.

So, what did the grandfather learn that day? A lighted world costs more.

If you want a world that is dark, unhappy, lonely, unwelcoming, and prejudiced, all it takes is neglect. A world of light, happiness, family, acceptance, and love costs more. That doesn’t necessarily mean money, but it does take care.

Resounding Achord’s outreach program for High School Honor Choir Scholarships is the perfect example of this. We are trying to spread light throughout our community by supporting students who wouldn’t normally be able to afford the enlightening experience of singing with an Honor Choir. I hope you will support us by attending our Musicale Fundraiser this Saturday, October 7, at 8 PM. Tickets are still available!

If you are unable to attend this fun event, please consider making a direct tax-deductible donation to help us support these deserving students.

Supporting the Decision Makers of the Future

Supporting the Decision Makers of the Future

By Kristina Nakagawa, Artistic Director, Resounding Achord 

An article (Trained Musicians Make Better Decisions” by Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard) was sent to me by a Resounding Achord alum, and it couldn’t be more perfect for this week. Here at Resounding Achord Productions, we are gearing up for our first-ever fundraiser on October 7. All funds raised from this variety-show-style evening will go directly to our high school regional and all-state honor choir scholarship outreach programs. The event will include performances from past scholarship recipients, along with current singers and friends of Resounding Achord. For more information, visit us here: A Musicale Fundraiser.

Many parents and teachers are well aware of the benefits of music training for children. This study from a team at the University of Texas-Austin suggests that families might consider holding off on music training until later in childhood, due to the development process of the brain’s prefrontal cortex. The study also theorizes that “The music classes offered during many children’s elementary and high-school education in America may result in improved decision-making ability as an adult.”

Personally, I believe that children and students of all ages should be exposed to and experience music firsthand. They should play in music, they should listen to music, they should live in music. As a parent, I resonate with the suggestion to not start more technical or “serious” musical training until the child is ready, or even until they ask for it! Anyone who was ever forced to practice their musical skills when they were young would likely tell you the same. However, these same people will also tell you the regret they feel that they didn’t continue with their music practice. Perhaps by waiting for instruction until age 8 or later, we can keep and preserve the joy of music throughout our lives?

The good news: many of the students in our musical outreach programs are just starting their journeys as musicians. I can only hope that by supporting them through our scholarship outreach program that we are helping to create the most advanced critical thinkers and problem solvers of the future. We are surely going to need their help.

Regional Honor Choir Audition Preparation Workshop

Want to walk into your audition with confidence?

This three-hour workshop is for high school singers who would like extra help with preparing for the regional honor choir auditions, which are held at the end of September.

Lessons will include:

  • How to present yourself at the audition. What do I wear? What do I say? What do I need to bring?
  • Tips and tricks for sight-reading.
  • Tips and tricks for tonal memory.
  • Preparation and performance of your solo piece.

Kristina Nakagawa leads this afternoon workshop. All students will take home materials that will support further audition preparation at home.

Date: Saturday, September 9th, 2017  1:00-4:00 pm
Location: St. Francis Episcopal Church, 1205 Pine Avenue, San Jose, CA

Student Participant $10 Purchase Tickets

Individual Donations

Donate to become a member of the Director’s Circle Today!


We have worked diligently to keep our expenditures extremely low.  However, we still have immediate funding needs, including:

  • Our Outreach Programs — Honor Choir Scholarships and our Summer Conducting Lab program
  • Venue Costs for Concerts and other Events
  • Concert Programs and Marketing Materials
  • Concert Guest Artists
  • Accompanist Fees
  • Salary for only one paid staff member

Membership Benefits

All donors receive acknowledgement in our concert programs, priority concert seating, and an invitation to donor events

Level Amount Gifted Benefits of Giving
Partner $5,000+ Private small-group concert of your choosing and four RAP Concert* tickets for life
Benefactor $2,500 – $4,999 Four RAP Concert* season tickets
Visionary $1,000 – $2,499 Two RAP Concert* season tickets
Patron $500 – $999 Four RAP Concert* single-concert tickets
Supporter $100 – $499 Two RAP Concert* single-concert tickets
Friend $50 – $99 Priority concert seating

* RAP Concert — Any concert produced by Resounding Achord Productions; typically two concerts per season

Download our Director’s Circle Brochure

IMPACT

Igniting Musical Passion Among Children and Teens

Our IMPACT program allows all students high-school age or younger to attend our RAP Produced concerts for free. Prior to each concert, we send information to music teachers in order to help provide outside musical opportunities to their students. The goal of this program is to educate our youth about choral music and to assure them that high-caliber performance opportunities exist outside of the education and faith-based organizations.

Summer Conducting Lab Choir

Summer Conducting Lab Choir

Need a place to sing when your choir is off for the summer?
We have the perfect gig for you.

The Summer Conducting Lab gives conductors-in-training an opportunity to work with a choir in a rehearsal setting, gaining valuable podium time and real-time feedback. During the 2-hour sessions, 3-5 conductors work with the all-volunteer choir, made up of singers from all over the Silicon Valley. Dr. Jeffrey Benson and Kristina Nakagawa provide feedback to the conductors both during the session and afterward in private communication.

What do the lab choir singers like best?

“I loved getting to learn more about the insides of conducting!”
“Making great music.”
“I loved being a part of a group of extremely skilled musicians; both the singers and directors!”
“The feedback given by Dr. Benson and Kristina Nakagawa and their effect on the conductor/choir were eye- (and ear-) opening for me as a singer.”

What else is great about the Summer Conducting Lab?

No audition.
No practicing.
No cost.
No pressure.
No commitment.

Just show up, sing, and have fun. Music will be provided for singers at each event.

Mondays & Wednesdays, mid-July thru mid-August 7:30-9:30 pm
St. Francis Episcopal Church, 1205 Pine Ave, San Jose, CA

For more information, or to register as a singer or student conductor:
Click Here

Volunteer Opportunities

Passionate Volunteers Needed

We are looking for several different kinds of volunteers:

  • Energetic and passionate Board of Directors members who want to help us realize our dreams.  We do not demand long hours or large donations.  We just want people who will help oversee our programs
  • Advisors to give us feedback, advice, and introductions to people in the community that will help us reach our goals.
  • A host of passionate volunteers who can help us at our concerts and outreach events.
  • Passionate educators (or music education supporters) who want to help us develop a world-class choral education outreach program.
  • People who wish to bring great choral music to retirement community events.

If you are interested in volunteering with our organization, please contact us at volunteers@resoundingachord.org.