Do you love to sing? Can you carry a tune without your family cringing or your pets getting up to leave the room? Would you welcome the challenge of performing a repertoire that runs from Gershwin and Cole Porter to Schubert and Vivaldi? Then, you might want to sit in with the Stamford Chorale next Tuesday night.
“We say that we are of the community and for the community,” Miriam Shaw, the chorale's president said.
So, the door is open to anyone from the Stamford area that would like to attend one of the group’s regular Tuesday evening rehearsals on the mezzanine level of The Atria senior residence at 77 Third Street in Stamford from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. from now until next May. No appointment is necessary and you won’t even be asked to audition.
“We want people in the community to feel comfortable about coming to sing,” Shaw said about their no-audition policy. “We occasionally get someone who can’t. But, it’s rare!” That’s a pretty good track record for a group that’s been around for 60 years.
The Stamford Chorale started out as the New Canaan Community Chorus. “When they discovered that most of the singers were coming from Stamford, they moved here and renamed themselves the Master Singers,” Shaw said. “Then, in 2001, we changed it to the Stamford Chorale.”
The Stamford Chorale presents two concerts each year at in December and early spring. In between, smaller groups perform at the Atria and other senior residences in town and at the occasional public venue like the . The Chorale is led by music Director and conductor Glen Clugston and accompanied by Dorothy Kolinsky.
Clugston, who joined the Chorale in 2001, brings considerable professional expertise to his role as music director. He has conducted professional touring productions of everything from Annie to 1776, and even acted as the music director for a televised version of The Fantastiks that starred the legendary Bert Lahr. His background in opera included stints at the Kennedy Center, the Los Angeles Music Center and co-founding the American Opera Repertory. Clugston is active in both fields, having recently introduced operatic works by Vivaldi to the U.S. while also conducting a new musical that starred Donna McKechnie.
PATCH: What are you working on with your singers for December?
CLUGSTON: We try to mix it up. We usually do one major piece as an anchor and then work around it. So, we’re doing a short Schubert Mass in G Major, which has some solos in it. We have the Fantasia on Christmas Carols by Ralph Vaughan Williams, which has a baritone soloist. Then, we’re doing two John Rutter pieces: Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind and his arrangement of The Twelve Days of Christmas. And a funny piece called The Twelve Days After Christmas.” [A song with comic lyrics like: The first day after Christmas/My true love and I had a fight/ And so I chopped the pear tree down/And burned it just for spite /Then with a single cartridge/I shot that blasted partridge /My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me!] I think the contrast is good, don’t you?
PATCH: How do you prepare for your concerts?
CLUGSTON: Some of the singers can’t read music, so we plow through it slowly and carefully.
PATCH: Is the accompaniment usually piano or do you ever add other instruments?
CLUGSTON: I sometimes add a cello. For the Brahms Requiem, we added a timpani, a cello and a harp to the piano. It sounded wonderful! Last year, we did Brother Heinrich’s Christmas, a comic piece by Rutter, that had a donkey sing “hee haw” in the chorus. So, we had a bassoon do that part.
PATCH: You work with a lot of professional singers. What do you get out of a community situation?
CLUGSTON: I sometimes have to fight a bit to do things that are a little difficult. But, I get such a charge out of it when they come through! When it’s over and they say ‘We did it! We did it!’ That’s a very exciting feeling you don’t often get from professionals.
For more details visit www.stamfordchorale.com or call 203-327-1220.