Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society 
  Vol. 44                                       ONLINE  ONLINE  ONLINE                                     February 2019
Providing financial support   since 1999 for
The Rockbridge Choral Society and The Rockbridge Youth Chorale   

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Birthdays  in

Louis Aubert        2/19/1877

Kurt Cobain   2/20/1967

    Armand-Louis Couperin        2/25/1727

Mark Your Calendars
Music At Noon, Winter Joy -
William McCorkle, February 20, 2019,  
12 Noon,  
Presbyterian Church

A Hallelujah! Handel! -  
Choral Society,  
with chamber orchestra and soloists, April 7, 2019, 7 PM, Lexington  
Presbyterian Church    
Don't miss the Hallelujah Chorus!

Spring Concert -
Youth Chorale, with Rockbridge County Highschool Choir,   
April 23, 2019, 7 PM, Lexington  
Presbyterian Church

  George Washington's

    Actually, the harpsicord played in the little parlor at Mount Vernon probably belonged to Washington's step-granddaughter, Nelly Custis.  The instrument was a gift from the President to 14 year old Nelly around 1793 and was delivered from London retailer Longman and Broderip.  By all accounts it was a top-of-the-line harpsicord acquired as the piano was just coming into popularity.  It was an extensively modified double keyboard harpsichord containing a complex plucking mechanism utilizing leather plectra rather than quill, a set of knobs and pedals which operated stops, and a Venetian swell. All allowed the user to play more expressively giving this particular harpsichord a mellower sound well suited to the changing demands of compositions of the period.  According to conservators and music historians, these innovations made this particular harpsichord different from any other surviving period harpsichord in the US. 
    Eventually Nelly's harpsichord moved to Washington's Mount Vernon in 1797 at the end of his second term, and except for a short stay at the home of Nelly's brother, remained there in its original condition until 2016 when curators determined that the environment in that old mansion was not good for the preservation of the instrument.  Mount Vernon called John Watson who is, as it happens, a builder of harpsichords.  They commissioned him to build a playable replica which would become part of the Mount Vernon exhibit.  And so the project was begun in Watson's workshop using the original instrument, now housed in more friendly climes in Williamsburg, as a model for the building of the replica.  This year and in 2020, Mr. Washington's harpsichord will once again be played in his home to better depict the important role of music in the late 18th century American experience.  See how John Watson made the replica here and see the fascinating history of Nelly's harpsichord  here..  Both are worthy of your time.  We'll never know whether this replica sounds the same as the original harpsichord.  Watson believes it will be close.

On Tour
            The Rockbridge Youth Chorale under the direction of Lacy Lynch and Lori Parker is going strong with about 40 singers heading toward their spring concert on April 23.  In preparation for that concert, the Chorale will go on a mini-tour on April 13 to perform some of their spring selections.  On April 23, prior to their final concert of the season, the singers will be participating in a workshop with Dr. Shane Lynch who will also be directing the mass choir pieces with the RYC and members of the Rockbridge County High School Choir.  Watch this space for updates on our young singers and their upcoming mini-tour.

A Change Is Coming

      Since 1999 the Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society has functioned as the fundraising underwriter for the concert seasons of the Rockbridge Choral Society, the Rockbridge Chamber Singers and the Rockbridge Youth Chorale.  On average, the Friends has raised $30,000 per season, and often more, so that our choruses can bring great and exciting choral music to our community.  Our board of directors has carefully considered the needs of the choruses as relates to fund raising, a governing body, singer recruitment, and more participation by the choruses in the operations of the whole.  To that end, and in consult with local experts in non-profit steering, the Board has decided to dissolve the Friends as an entity and, in 2019, to begin the process of re-organizing all of these roles under the umbrella of the Rockbridge Choral Society.  In practical effect, choral participants probably won't notice any change.  Rehearsals, concerts, and donor outreach will go on without interruption.  To insure a smooth transition, the governing board of the Friends and our Executive Director will continue in those capacities through the reorganization period.  Once we are fully reorganized by end of summer, 2019, we will be looking for some new additions to the Board.  If you are interested in serving, please be in contact with our Executive Director, Melanie Griffis-Hooper.  Catch up with her at a Monday night rehearsal or send her an email,  Watch for emails from for updates on our progress.  We are excited about this new opportunity!
Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society
Rockbridge Choral Society
P.O. Box 965
Lexington, VA 24450