A Pleasant Hill resident who sings soprano just has that knack for bringing voices together and inspiring choral members to expand their breadth with each new score.
For 10 years Dee Wood has directed the Martinez Community Chorus, a group requiring no audition and spanning the vocal range from bass to soprano, from the fledglings to the well-trained.
With a musical plate that is beyond brimming, the upcoming concert Tuesday, June 12, will be Wood's swan song in this role.
"It's been a really good run. I learned a lot on the job. I love doing what I do. It was just time to leave," says Wood.
She continues to direct The Golden Notes and is the choir director at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore.
Tuesday's concert is reflective of programs Wood has created all along. The show, featuring the "Hoop-De-Doo Polka" from the 1950s, will have variety, will challenge its vocalists and engage the audience at the Martinez Adult School auditorium.
And, at some point, the audience will be beckoned to sing along, move to the music and try their hand at percussion.
"I want there to be a challenge and an 'aha' at the end, that they actually enjoyed performing, and the audience enjoyed it, too," says Wood.
For Concord resident and alto Jan Newbegin, signing up for Wood's class through the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District in 2000 -- which led her to join the chorus -- was a chance to reconnect with a love
Each season, Newbegin has anticipated coming to class and finding something new that they'll perform.
"Sometimes it's hard in middle years to think that you're going to learn something drastically new," she says, noting Wood's routine selection of scores in different languages and signatures beyond four-four time.
Wood's upbeat encouraging approach helped during those times when members voiced any self-defeating thoughts, says Martinez alto Pat Corr, who has been with the chorus for 15 years.
Corr also refers to Wood's receptiveness to requests for solo or duet performances, or a four-man group who liked to sing barbershop.
"No one is told that they can't do something," Corr adds.
Wood also has a knack for finding future members of the chorus.
Three years ago, she found one of the group's bass vocalists singing solo Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer selections at Café Italia in Martinez.
"She's a great teacher. She's helped us all along ... She has great musicality," says Martinez resident Phil Ciaramitaro. "It's a great pleasure to be around someone who loves music so much. And now she's happy to turn over the baton."
Wood's replacement is Martinez resident Sara Stafford who directed the now-defunct choral programs at Martinez Junior High School and Alhambra High School.
"They're so warm and welcoming. This is a great way to get back into the choir gig. They do such fun, awesome things," says Stafford, who plays flute and piccolo at Diablo Valley College and is a part-time science teacher at Morello Park Elementary School.
Stafford, who has filled in for Wood during prior performances, knows first-hand that her predecessor was key in defining that culture.
"Dee is one of the most warm and kindhearted people I know," says Stafford, also describing Wood's helpful nature. "She's kept (the chorus) alive ... and she's making this a smooth transition."
What: Martinez Community Chorus, under the direction of Dee Wood for her final time
When: 7:30 p.m., June 12
Where: Martinez Adult School auditorium, 600 F Street
Admission: $5 donation