Music : Traditional concert at the Tabernacle
The Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association and the Island Community Chorus have perfectly complementary seasons. The chorus is active from September through June; the Campground springs to life in July and August.
But there is one brief, magical moment of overlap, when the Island's summer and year-round communities face each other across the footlights of the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. That moment is the concert, this Saturday night, which opens the Campground season and ends another year of singing for the chorus.
With its concert this Saturday, July 5, the Island Community Chorus will have opened the season of performances at the Tabernacle for 11 straight years.
"It's a great tradition and a wonderful way for us to start the summer," says Robert Cleasby, director of programs for the Camp Meeting Association: Acoustic music, Islanders performing. "I love to have our summer people hear the chorus, and I'm a choral director myself, so I'm partial to this kind of music."
This moment at the beginning of July is the only time when this event is possible: The Campground opened just Wednesday night, with the first Community Sing of its two-month season, and the chorus is about to take its traditional two-month break so its singers, Islanders all, can concentrate on the work of the summer.
Says Mr. Cleasby: "July is the time when the chorus goes on vacation, and we go to work."
The chorus of more than 100 voices, under the direction of Peter Boak and accompanied by L. Garrett Brown at the Tabernacle's nine-foot Steinway piano, will present a program of music designed to celebrate the holiday, music whose variety pays tribute to the richness of the American experience.
Photo courtesy of Nis Kildegaard
The program will include Irving Berlin's setting of Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, from the poem written by Emma Lazarus and inscribed beneath the Statue of Liberty. The chorus will sing two pieces from Felix Mendelssohn's oratorio, Elijah, reprising its April performance to a packed house at the Performing Arts Center. It will sing American folk songs, spirituals, show tunes and songs in French and Italian. And from the director's podium, Mr. Boak will invite the Tabernacle audience to join in the singing of "America the Beautiful" and "Down by the Riverside."
Nis Kildegaard's column Soundings appears in The Times three times each month. He is a board member and participant in the Island Community Chorus.
Saturday, July 5, at 8 pm, at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, the Island Community Chorus performs its final concert until Labor Day. Donations accepted.