Peter Boak leads the way

Peter Boak: Photo by Nis Kildegaard

- March 30, 2006

Peter Boak, director of the Island Community Chorus, says that when he assembled the musical program for this weekend's concerts, several considerations were at play.

It's an eclectic program, without a centerpiece as substantial as John Rutter's "Gloria" was in the choir's concerts last December. The program features three pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose 250th birthday is being celebrated around the world this year. It also includes the Missa Brevis of Franz Joseph Haydn; a motet entitled "Beati Quorum Via" by Charles Villiers Stanford; two arrangements of American classic songs by Stephen Foster, and a poignant setting of "My Heart's in the Highlands," by the celebrated Scottish poet Robert Burns.

"With this particular concert," explains Mr. Boak, "I was looking for pieces that had significant work for a soprano soloist, because Abigail Southard is on the Island now, and who knows how much longer we'll have her talents around. That's really where the Haydn and the Mozart are coming from."

To balance the program, Mr. Boak says, "I also wanted something a little bit lighter. And if you're willing to stretch a little bit, I think the fun and playfulness and the sorts of energy that you find in Mozart's music is much the same sort of fun and energy and light-heartedness that you find in Stephen Foster. And Robbie Burns was actually a contemporary of Mozart."

This weekend's concerts also build on the success of the December program, which featured a brass ensemble brought down from Boston. Accompanying the chorus, in addition to the indefatigable L. Garrett Brown on piano and organ, will be an ensemble of musicians on strings, brass and percussion.

Concerts will be presented in the Old Whaling Church at 7:30 pm on Saturday, April 1, and at 3 pm on Sunday, April 2. Students are always admitted free, and the leaders of the chorus emphasized this week that although the suggested donation is $15, they hope the community understands that everyone is invited.

Says Judy Crawford, president of the Island Community Chorus: "We want everyone to know that we'd much rather have you hear our music than stay home. Certainly the chorus has bills to pay, but in the end, these concerts are about singing for our community, and you just can't match the electricity of a full house. When the chorus looks out and sees every seat full and people standing in the back, I think we reach a little bit deeper. The real music is what happens between the musicians and the audience. We enjoyed singing to full houses in December, and we hope to be doing that again this weekend."