Thursday, November 4, 2010

WHAT SINGER-SONGWRITER DOESNT DREAM OF THIS?

I have this friend, Mark.  He's funny, and kind, and brilliant, and talented.  Gifted is a better word.  He's married to my friend Sarah, who is also funny and kind and gifted.  Mark does music ~ Sarah is a dancer.  I try to imagine my life without either of them and I'm telling you, it is a sorry picture without the Robinette's in it!
When our kids were young Sarah taught them ballet at the Clytie Adams School of Dance.  I sat with a couple thousand other parents at Weber State's Browning Center one year, watching my little girl twirl around in her cerullian blue tutu.  I was so charmed by the music they were dancing to that I searched the program for the composer.  In tiny script on the bottom of the back of the program it said the music was composed and performed by Mark Robinette. Since my kids' dance teacher was Sarah Robinette I assumed there was some relation.  I listened with more intent through the whole charming program.  At the end I made my way against the stream of people exiting the theatre, all the way down to the front where Sarah and Mark were standing. 
"Was that music composed by someone related to you?", I asked Sarah when I finally inched my way up to her. 
"Yes.  My husband, Mark!"  She nodded her head in his direction.  I stood patiently behind a crowd of people waiting to talk to him. 
"Hi," I said.  "Did you write the music for the little dancer's performances?"
Mark nodded.
"I just want you to know it was fabulous!"
He graciously responded, and I made some ridiculous comment like, "No, really, I'm a songwriter too and I need to tell you that was amazing!"
He smiled, I'm sure thinking who the heck is this person?
I realized how obnoxious I was acting, so I told him thanks and left.  But I kept that name...Mark Robinette...in the back of my head for future reference.
Turns out that following winter Mark was doing a sort of Sunday Service circuit of performances of this song someone asked him to sing with them.  A duet. He sang a part about Joesph and a gal sang the part of Mary.
At some point in the following year our paths crossed on neutral territory and we both figured out who the other one was. He had somehow heard my song that Chris LeDoux had recorded and had a sort of respect for that, and then he found out I had written Joseph and Mary.  And of course I was in awe of his work. 
Neither of us can even remember the first time we had an opportunity to work together.  Susan Tingey probably had something to do with it, but we're not quite sure.  Faulty memory banks.
But whomever it was that got us to make music together, I need to give them a big hug and a shout out, because my life was changed for good.
If you've seen me perform much you'll know Mark as that tall bass player standing beside me (when I'm lucky).  I get his sweet harmonies and deep instrumental resonance when I'm lucky and he's not booked for another gig with the Joe Muscolino Band or the Orchestra at Temple Square, or he's not producing a half time show for the Orange Bowl, or he's not handling sound and tech for an international convention of something-or-other.  He's one of the few people I know who is able to support his family solely on freelance music. He is gifted musically and in so many other ways and I adore him and Sarah!
So a few years ago Mark introduced me to his friend Michael Huff.  Michael played piano with us for a performance of The Little Prince, which Mark and I wrote for the ballet school (yup, I realize the full circle charm in the fact that I get to write and play for that ballet recital now!) Mike is amazing on keyboards! And he is so dang nice, too.  Turns out Michael Huff is gifted in the way Mark Robinette is gifted.  The cashier at Home Depot might not know this about them when they're checking out. It's like...uh, people...if you knew what these guys can do you would not be so casually dropping that box of nails in the bag...you'd be trying to act non-chalant while you watched their every move out of the corner of your eye! 
Last year Dave and I were invited to sing in a regional choir for General Conference.  The director of that choir was Dr. Michael Huff - (otherwise known as Mike).  Michael has his Doctorate in Choral Direction, and I'm here to tell you he is one AMAZING choir director.  There are some songs I cannot sing without tears because of what Michael taught us when he was "teaching us the song".  Truly, if you ever get the chance to sing under the baton of Dr, Huff you should jump!  If I was not Young Women's president right now I would be singing in his choir UTAH VOICES!  We went to their performance of Carmina Burana last spring and it blew us away!  But they rehearse on Wednesday evening, and that's when I have Young Womens.
Wait a minute....it looks like I DO get to sing with UTAH VOICES! 
(drum roll)
Michael asked if I would be a guest artist with his choir for their Thanksgiving Concert, sweetly titled "GIVE THANKS". I'll be singing some of my simple singer-songwriter fare in a couple weeks, at the beautiful Libby Gardner Hall on the U of U campus...with a 170 voice choir backing me up!  And a string ensemble!  And my friends (gifted musicians and songwriters also) Dave and Carla Eskelsen...and...of course...Mark Robinette.
What singer-songwriter doesn't dream of something like this?
I'm so excited!
(and a little bit nervous!)
So if you have read this far (boy, I sure do over-write!) and you are thinking you want a warm fuzzy inspiring way to start the Holiday season, come to the Utah Voices Concert on Monday Nov 22nd.  The music is sure to be delicious!
Details:

Give Thanks – A Thanksgiving/Holiday Concert

Date: Monday, November 22, 2010
Time: 7:30 PM
Runtime: Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes
Location: Libby Gardner Concert Hall (1375 Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City, UT)
Tickets: General Admission - $10 (order online here)
Details: Utah Voices welcomes singer-­‐songwriter Cori Connors (www.coriconnors.com) for an evening of music that will feature Cori Connors as well as the music of English composers, John Rutter and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Michael Huff is currently Director of Commercial Music at Utah State University, working with former Tabernacle Choir Director Craig Jessop.  If you know someone going to Utah State suggest they find a class...any class... Michael Huff is teaching!

7 comments:

  1. How exciting!!!

    I want to try to make it!!!

    Luff ewe!

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  2. Sounds awesome, wish I could be there. I'm sure you'll knock 'em dead, Cor.

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  3. yeah...can't wait. let the singing begin!

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  4. I'll be there too. Perhaps I will win the distance award???

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  5. Oh, I am fond of your aunt libby.

    And of you. And jah, this is exciting and dreamlike.

    I had a Robinette daughter in my ward when I was at BYU - was it grad school or before, I wonder? Anyway, in the ground floor gallery area of the HFAC, I heard her sing an aria sort of thing about easter - I think it was Mary's song in response to the crucifixion. This was, keep in mind, over 34 years ago. I remember clearly her sweet face turned upward, standing beside the piano. And the shock of beauty that set every nerve in my arms alight.

    Something about that name . . .

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  6. Ooooooh! I think I will buy tickets! Maddi just performed at Gardner Hall last week with her Jr High choir. She even accompanied on the grand piano for one of the pieces. It was magical! That concert hall is so gorgeous. Tissues a must for me to attend any concert of yours.

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  7. It was the BEST, wasn't it?! Funny how lives become intertwined. I, too, love Mark and am so grateful that I have the pleasure of knowing and working with him. Michael lived in my stake growing up, and I first got to know him when I took voice lessons from Susan. Fast forward 15 years...my mom ran into Michael at Costco (but, of course!) She asked him what he was doing, and he mentioned he was directing a choir in the Salt Lake Valley and told my mom to tell me to come and sing with him. Well, I did, for a year. After Michael parted ways with that group, I had a conversation with him on the phone on a Saturday in late July 2009. I told him that he couldn't just NOT direct a choir anymore...and had he ever thought about directing a choir of his own? He told me, "if you put together a choir, I will direct it." And that was the beginning of what is now Utah Voices. We went on sheer faith and hope that someone would show up to our first rehearsal, a mere 6 weeks after that fateful phone call. We all were so anxious and worried, and pretty much planning for disaster. But, people came. They came because they love him and they love to sing. We had 130 people show up the first night of rehearsal. We were shocked. In fact, we had to immediately find another rehearsal venue because we were already too big for the original location. Today we hover right about 180 singers, give or take. It is a miracle and a blessing. Something that I believe God had a hand in. Something that I can't imagine my life ever being without. Something that brings peace and joy and a sense of greatness to me.

    And that is how I came to know the great Mark Robinette. :)

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