Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all. This afternoon we'll stop by my grandparent's house to say hello, then off to Anne's parents' for the evening. We'll be joined by Anne's sister's family as well as their aunt & uncle and cousins. After returning home, we'll open our presents and look to the sky for Rudolph's nose. Tomorrow morning, after Clara opens presents from Santa Claus, we'll head to my aunt's house for Christmas with the Degenhart side of the family. Tomorrow evening we'll go to my parent's house to celebrate with my siblings and parents.

If you care to track Santa's journey, you can check out The North American Air Defense command in Colorado tracks Santa and posts updates on his location.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 4 year anniversary! We had a beautiful wedding four years ago on this date. I proposed a year earlier while decorating the Christmas tree at my apartment. The ring was inside a special gold ball ornament. Our first "unofficial" date was Anne helping me decorate the tree in my apartment the year before that, so this time of year is extra special for us.

Our wedding was at Highview Church of God, my home church, in Washington, IL and we had three pastors officiating: Ed Beasley (my pastor growing up), Ben Johnston (our pastor from Grace), and Father Reese (Anne's pastor from St. Mark's). We had the River City String Quartet playing for the ceremony and I arranged the processionals and recessional. Our bridesmaids walked in to the theme from "Legends of the Fall," Anne's processional was the bridal march from "The Sound of Music" and the recessional was an arrangement of "Joy to the World" that began with the "Throne Room" fanfare from "Star Wars" and ended with a quote of "White Christmas." Her attendants were her sister Gina, her friend Holly and our friend Jenny. My attendants were Nathan, and my brothers Jason and Chad. The flower girls were Emilee, Hannah, Liesl and Tessa. Amber and Jeremy did the guest book and Isaac helped pass out bells.
Pastor Beasley performed the majority of the ceremony with Ben leading the unity candle portion and Father Reese providing a special blessing at the end of the ceremony.

The reception was at Wildlife Prairie Park and was beautiful. We decorated it how we wanted right after Thanksgiving and they used our decorations for the whole season. Anne had just finished student teaching at Richwoods HS, so their madrigal singers came and sang for us, as well as presented the bridal party. We had a small jazz combo playing dinner music (piano, bass, drums, and sax) and the whole evening was enchanting.

The day after Christmas we left for our honeymoon in Asheville, NC. A beautiful place to stay!

Happy Anniversary, honey! I love you!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Season Wrap-up

Well, our busy Christmastime ended yesterday afternoon and now we can REST! After Anne's Christmas concert this past Wednesday, I had a rehearsal and two performances of the musical/oratorio "Saviour" at the First United Methodist Church in Normal, IL. My friend, Janna Peterson, is the choir director there and called me to play when her pianist was unable to continue. We performed the piece (with orchestra and choir) Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning during their worship services.

Friday evening we attended Tremont High School's madrigal dinner. My best friend, Nathan Edwards, is the choir director there and he and the students did a fantastic job! Highlight of the evening for me was the skit "Noah and Joan of Ark," which I performed in when I was in high school 14 years ago--I still remembered most of the lines!

After "Saviour" yesterday morning, Anne and I took Clara to see Santa and one of his reindeer at the Festival of Lights Marketplace. Clara didn't cry and we had our picture taken. Last night Anne and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary with family at my parent's house. Anne's done teaching tomorrow morning, so we're looking forward to some much-needed rest and relaxation!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

School Christmas Concert

My wife, Anne, teaches K-8 music at St. Philomena School in Peoria. It's part-time (3 mornings a week) and she sees each class only once during that week.

Last night was her Christmas program and it was fantastic. The gym was filled and overflowing with parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, etc., and everybody loved it! Some of the little kids had costumes (elf hats and reindeer hats) and some had props (little drums and flutes) and all were adorable. In addition to the singing, the 8th grade played choir chimes and she had a group of carolers singing between some of the songs for transition. The beginning band also played transition music and did a great job. The pastor at St. Phil's, Father Greg, said this was the best Christmas concert he'd attended in his 12 years of pastoring! (now would be a good time to ask for a raise!!!)

Because it was in the gym this year, rather than the church, Anne did a lot of decorating to help liven the place up: four Christmas trees, lighted garland hung on the wall to frame the risers, and even a fake fireplace and rocking chair on stage for a Christmas scene during the intermission.

All the kids did a great job with all of their songs!!!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hands of Love Ministry information

Hands of Love Ministry was created five years ago by Scott & Rachel Kramer as the umbrella ministry for their RiverLife gospel music dinner cruises aboard the Spirit of Peoria riverboat. Out of those concert cruises developed Hands of Love Ministry. This ministry provides a variety of music and audio production services throughout central Illinois.
  • RIVERLIFE: we host monthly gospel music cruises aboard the Spirit of Peoria riverboat. These cruises feature an all-you-can-eat prime rib and chick buffet (food is fantastic!) and a concert featuring a variety of musical styles, including southern gospel, black gospel, inspirational and others. Regular performers include the Ed Brothers Quartet from the Chattanooga area, the ministry's own GospelFest Singers, the Gates Family from Bloomington, IL, and next year we'll also be hosting Gaither Homecoming singer Allison Durham Speer.
  • GOSPELFEST concert series: a good old-fashioned night of southern gospel singing featuring the GospelFest choir (singers from churches throughout central Illinois), GospelFest Singers (our core group of soloists), and the GospelFest band (headlined by Gaither homecoming pianist Tracey Phillips from Nashville, TN). The evening features great southern gospel convention music including quartets, trios and soloists. In the past we've had guests like Buddy Greene (writer of "Mary Did You Know?") This next year, our 8th year, we'll be having Allison Durham Speer with us for the evening. We also have a presentation entitled "An Evening with Fanny Crosby" that we take to churches throughout the area. This evening shares the life the story of Fanny Crosby through many of her best-known hymns, including "To God be the Glory" and "Blessed Assurance."
  • WEST & KRAMER: Scott & his wife, Rachel, minister throughout the midwest sharing music and testimony through a variety of styles. Rachel recently sang in Minnesota for a Minneapolis suburb's annual prayer breakfast.
  • AUDIO PRODUCTION: Through Scott Kramer's Electric Station Studios, Hands of Love is able to provide audio services to a variety of churches and ministries in the area. Mixing and Mastering for local radio and TV broadcasts, producing music beds for videos and special projects, and original track production are some of the services offered through this branch of the ministry.

Check out our website for a calendar of events:

Hands of Love Ministry is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Our ministry is funded by the support and prayers of believers like you. If you would like more information on Hands of Love or would like to become a financial partner with us in this ministry, please contact us through the Hands of Love website.

Degenhart Music services

Degenhart Music offers a variety of musical services. Hopefully we can be of service to you!

  • TYPESETTING--giving your music that professional look. Any style or genre, including full score, piano-vocal, instrument parts, lead sheets, choral scores, hymns. I've been working with the Finale music notation program for 12 years.
  • ORCHESTRATION--writing out parts for any combination of instruments for your song from full orchestra to small jazz band. Experience includes arranging and orchestrating for a nationall televised church Christmas production, "A Grace Family Christmas" as well as work for the Cross Music Group publishing company from the Chattanooga area.
  • ARRANGING--adding those special touches to your song, writing out choral or instrument parts, adding introductions, bridges, endings
  • CONDUCTING--special events and festivals
  • ACCOMPANYING--accomplished pianist and accompanist (there is a difference!)
  • MUSICAL THEATRE--involvement with over 40 musicals over the past 10 years as either musical director, conductor, rehearsal accompanist and arranger, including several national and world premiers
  • CONCERT PRODUCTION/CONSULTATION--I can help you put together your church's Christmas or other concerts from helping with music selection, multi-media usage and administrative/logistics planning.
  • SPECIAL EVENTS--weddings, receptions, banquets, funerals

Call or e-mail for rates and to see what we can do for you!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

My name is Shawn Degenhart and I'm part of the Hands of Love Ministry in central Illinois. I've been married to my wife Anne for almost four years and we have a beautiful 14 month old girl, Claralyn Kay. In addition to Hands of Love, I'm also the owner of Degenhart Music, a business that offers a variety of musical services including arranging, orchestrating, typesetting, accompanying, playing for weddings/receptions, etc. I also teach music theory and sight-singing at Ben Speer's Stamps-Baxter School of Music every summer at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN.

Hands of Love Ministry hosts the RiverLife gospel music dinner cruises aboard the Spirit of Peoria riverboat as well as hosting the GospelFest concerts. We held our 7th Annual Summertime GospelFest on August 13th at Grace Presbyterian Church and most recently, the first annual Christmastime GospelFest at the Gateway Building in downtown Peoria.

My title at the ministry is Director of Programming & Development. I not only plan and direct concerts, but also handle some of the administrative duties of the ministry.This blog will help keep you updated as to what's going on with the Degenharts, Hands of Love, and Degenhart Music!

Busy Christmas time

Well, it's been a whirlwind month. Last week we wrapped up Grace Presbyterian Church's "A Grace Family Christmas." I served as a producer of sorts, helping to plan out the concert and coordinating details, and also was the rehearsal accompanist. This concert is attended by over 4,000 people each year, including local politicians and our U.S. Representative.

This past weekend we held our ministry's first annual "Christmastime GospelFest." An off-shoot of the Summertime GospelFest series, this dinner-concert was held at the Gateway Building on Peoria's beautiful riverfront. The GospelFest singers provided the music for the concert portion, featuring a lot of great southern gospel Christmas music. A good time was had by all.

This next week I'll be accompanying the Christmas concert where my wife teaches K-8 music and this weekend will be playing piano/synth for the oratorio "Saviour" for a church in Normal, IL.

Once all this is done, we plan on enjoying the rest of the season: visiting local Christmas sights and events and just RELAXING!

Already starting to plan events for next year!