MEMBERS OF THE BACH FESTIVAL CHOIR
Member since: 2008
Hometown: Yonkers, NY
Currently lives in: The Villages
Graduated from Vassar, studied Math & Art History
Occupation: Retired from IBM, Colonial Williamsburg, and several University Computer Science departments and development offices
Hobbies: Crossword puzzles!
Fun facts: Also sings with Berkshire Choral International in Sheffield, MA
When I first auditioned in 2008: John Sinclair was warm and welcoming. He went out of his way to tell my husband and me all about the choir and gave us a tour of the chapel where we would sing. As far as I’m concerned, he didn’t accept us for our vocal abilities, but because we knew the classical music repertoire. We have sung for years with Berkshire Choral International. The first year we sang with BCI was 1990, and we sang the Brahms Requiem in Sheffield, MA. Since then, we’ve sung more than 30 weeks with BCI in all sorts of places, including Canterbury, Salzburg, Prague, Budapest, Vancouver, Montreal, Sante Fe, and Winter Park with John.
Bach on Tour: Had a marvelous time with the choir and the orchestra. We did several things on our own and many things with the group. The whole time was full of wonderful experiences and discoveries and great fun. One of my favorite memories on the bus was helping two string players stow their precious violins and viola in the little shelves above the seats on the bus – lifting, pushing, maneuvering, padding. Touring Leipzig, Bach’s hometown, and singing in his Nikolaikirche was a special treat. And singing with the dozen Rollins students was a real joy.
My Musical History: I didn’t grow up singing. My mother taught me how to play the piano, but I can remember sitting at the piano bench with this little timer on, timing how long I practiced. I kept encouraging the timer to go faster and faster! But my parents could always tell, of course. “You’re not done yet!” they would say. After Mom taught me to play the piano, I took violin lessons in elementary school and played in the school orchestra. I didn’t really sing until I got to college and sang in the Glee Club at Vassar. My husband and I didn’t get to sing the classical music repertoire until we sang in BCI’s week-long programs. Each week, we’d rehearse in the mornings and evenings, and then end the week with a public concert.
What do you do when you’re NOT singing and rehearsing? What I especially like to do is crossword puzzles, usually in the Wall Street Journal. They take me a whole week to complete, and, “No, I don’t cheat, but wait until the answers come out a week later!” I also spend a lot of time at the softball fields in The Villages, watching my husband play four or five games a week, occasionally keeping score, and always reading or chipping away on the latest WSJ crossword puzzle. When we have the time, we also like to take modest bike rides.
What would you say to someone who is considering an audition for Bach Festival Society? Do it! It’s a wonderful experience. You may find that when you first join, it’s a little overwhelming. Now in early December, for example, new folks are trying to learn the entire Christmas repertoire and also trying to prepare for the two-week Bach Festival in February! There’s an awful lot of music to master, so maybe the best time to join is early fall so that a new singer can ease into it and get used to the pace.
You don’t have to be perfect. The better voice you have, the better chance you have of becoming a Bach Festival singer, but you don’t have to be a professional to be in the choir. We certainly are not, and we do not have solo voices. We definitely belong in a chorus, so that any mistakes we make–or breaths we need to take–are covered up by most other people! And that’s the great part of being in a choir. Everybody is so very helpful and supportive. You have friends all around you, and we’re all there to learn to sing as well as we can great choral music. John continually pushes us to perfection in an atmosphere of love for music, support for each other, and maximum professionalism.