High Season on HIGH STREET
CHORUS OF WESTERLY IN FULL VOICE DURING HOLIDAYS
NNo matter where you live, when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around you’re likely to be visited by that strolling group of carolers hoping to share, vocally, their holiday joy with you. Some of these groups may be top-notch, but just in case the ones who knock on your door are less than stellar, gas up the car and head down toWesterly for an evening of choral delight.
The Chorus ofWesterly kicked off its 50th season in September, and in honor of the half century mark the organization has planned a year filled with new programs, along with some old favorites.
On Nov. 23, the 200-member chorus will perform Hodie (“This Day”), a piece created by British composer Ralph VaughanWilliams. Calling the compositionWilliams’ “crowning choral masterpiece,” chorus organizers say the work is also a fitting tribute to the birth of the chorus.
“Hodie is a radiant mosaic of poetry, gospel and lush orchestral detail …,” say organizers. “Expect breathlessness as the chorus ushers in the Christmas season.”
Williams, who died in 1958, composed symphonies, chamber and choral music, operas, film scores and Christian hymns. He published his first piece at age 30. Attendees can take in one of two afternoon shows (which are held on Sundays) to listen to theWilliams’ production.
And less than a month later, the chorus will host three performances of its annual Christmas Pops program.
The popular show, put on just four days before Christmas, is set in a twinkling, festive backdrop created in the performance hall. The youngest members of the chorus decorate the hall with lights and garland, and for several years have focused on one specific theme.
“Last year we had such success with the kids making giant ornaments out of plain white beach balls,” says Emma Palzere-Rae, executive director of the chorus. “We haven’t finalized a theme yet for this year, but we’re excited.”
The performance, which began in 1981, is accompanied by the 55-instrument Boston Festival Orchestra. “We perform just about everything with a full orchestra,” says PalzereRae. “How many instruments we need depends on the music we are performing.”
The holiday season concludes with A Celebration of Twelfth Night, a show that fills the 440-seat hall for each of six concerts. The family event involves music, dance, tragedy and comedy, and mythical creatures centered around a newly scripted play each year.
The cast of more than 100 hosts a Peasants’ Feast between the 4 and 7 p.m. shows.
“The kids start learning the music at a camp in August,” says the executive director, of the season’s performances. “Then everyone starts rehearsals the week of Labor Day and continues straight through the season.”
All of the concerts are held at the organization’s newly renovated performance hall, which was rededicated in September 2005 as the George Kent Performance Hall in honor of the original and current music director.
For ticket information, contact the box office at 401-596-8663 or visit the chorus’sWeb site at www.chorusofwesterly.org.
High Season on High Street Chorus of Westerly in full voice during holidays
OPPOSITE, CHORUS MEMBERS SHOW OFF THEIR ACTING CHOPS DURING “A CELEBRATION OF TWELFTH NIGHT.” JEFF EVANS / THE DAY; RIGHT, CHORUS MEMBERS RUN THROUGH THEIR HOLIDAY SONGBOOK. DANA JENSEN / THE DAY; BELOW, CELEBRATING “TWELFTH NIGHT.” DANA JENSEN / THE DAY