Peter Boak
Chorus director Peter Boak's passion for music shows in his expression during a recent rehearsal. Photo by Nis Kildegaard

Springtime music from around the world

By Nis Kildegaard - March 29, 2007

The Island Community Chorus will perform songs from many of the world's great musical traditions this Saturday, March 31, 7:30 pm and Sunday, April 1, 3 pm, at the Old Whaling Church.

The chorus has been rehearsing Monday nights all winter with director Peter R. Boak for the "Voices of the World" concert. Mr. Boak, who has been leading the chorus since 1996, says he began pulling this concert program together last November, looking for good choral music from around the world.

The concert will begin with the rousing and rhythmic "Chocholoza," an African welcoming song, and will end with a plaintive Native American song of blessing entitled "Farewell, My Friend." In between, the chorus will sing music from the Celtic, American gospel and Hebrew traditions.

Members of the chorus who have authentic costumes have been invited to wear them. So among the traditional white shirts and black skirts and trousers on the Whaling Church stage, don't be surprised to see a dashiki here, a kimono there - perhaps a dirndl or pair of lederhosen.

Assisting the choir in its music-making will be four Island instrumentalists - Matt Pelikan on the recorder, Nancy Jephcote on violin, Julie Schilling on clarinet and Brian Weiland on percussion. At the piano will be Wesley Brown, the brother of the chorus's usual accompanist, Garrett Brown, who is recovering from a fall that broke an arm.

"We are so fortunate. You're lucky to have one good accompanist in a chorus like ours, but to have another one who can just walk in when we have a little crisis like this - we are so blessed. And Wesley does it so graciously and so unassumingly. He's a real unsung hero of the chorus," Mr. Boak said.

Because of its multicultural quality, Mr. Boak said, the "Voices of the World" program presents unique challenges for the chorus. "This concert isn't based on a single, major work. Because of that, I think a lot of our chorus members are envisioning this as an easier concert to sing. But what's not easy is, every four or five minutes, jumping into a different musical style. You've got to click right in. To have to jump language, and style, and heritage - that is not easy."

Proceeds from the concert go to the Peter R. Boak Scholarship Fund, which supports Vineyard high school graduates pursuing further studies in music.

"Voices of the World" concert, Saturday, March 31, 7:30 pm, and Sunday, April 1, 3 pm, at the Old Whaling Church, Main Street, Edgartown. $15 suggested donation.