All-day singings & conventions

Ziegler memorial singing

The second annual Dominic Ciavonne Ziegler Memorial Singing took place today. More than forty of us gathered in the Felta Schoolhouse in Healdsburg, California, and sang for five or six hours, with an hour break for dinner in the middle of the day. An all-day singing is a great way to start the year!

Since this was a singing in memory of Dominic, a young singer who died just two years ago at age 23, I was glad that someone led 448b, the one tune Dominic is listed as leading in one of the Minutes Books (at the 2010 Golden Gate All-day Singing). It was also good to see Dominic’s parents, his brother, and several of his relatives, as well as a lot of the singers who had known him through the Berkeley weekly singing. It was also nice to see a range of ages from a baby to people in their seventies — that wide range of ages felt good at a memorial singing.

I thought it was a particularly good singing: like the best of Bay Area singings, it was loud, fast, and joyous. The pitching tended to be fairly high, even by Bay Area standards — some of the tunes felt to me as though they were pitched at or above written pitch — but the higher pitches sounded good in that room, and our intonation stayed generally true even at those high pitches. The tempos, as you’d expect at a Bay Area singing, were fast. The overall effect was joyous.

The Healdsburg Sacred Harp community is a nice group of singers, with a well-deserved reputation for being relaxed and welcoming. I saw that in action today: one of the basses was singing Sacred Harp for the first time today, and we pushed him up to the front bench, and surrounded him with experienced singers, to make sure he would find it easy to get started. That kind of thing was repeated over and over again, little welcoming kindnesses that are so characteristic of the Healdsburg singers. And, thinking back, that’s just the kind of singer Dominic was — he was friendly and welcoming, and invited lots of new folks to come check out Sacred Harp singing.

At the end of today’s singing, the secretary reported that we had more than 40 leaders from four states (California, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas), who led at least 88 tunes. Dinner on the grounds was excellent. It was a lovely small singing with a nice family feel to it — a fitting memorial for a fine tenor singer.


Phil invited singers to stop by his new house in Sebastapol on their way home, and several of us did — there’s one room in the house that he thought would be good for singing, and he wanted to try it out. We sang three tunes in that room, and it really was a fabulous singing space. Let’s hope Phil hosts some singings up there sometime soon.