Island voices in song
Peter Boak, director of the Island Community Chorus, often puts the chorus through challenging paces, but for the choir's concert this Friday, July 3, at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, Mr. Boak has been kinder. "After the intensity of the winter concert," he says, "this program is a bit more singer-friendly, and probably more audience-friendly as well."
Friday night will mark the 12th year in which the Island Community Chorus has officially opened the summer concert season of the Martha's Vineyard Camp-Meeting Association. Robert Cleasby, program director for the association, admits that as a choral director himself, he's partial to this kind of music. "It's a great tradition, and a wonderful way for us to start the summer here on the Camp Ground."
With Mr. Boak wielding the baton and accompanist Garrett Brown at the Tabernacle's nine-foot Steinway piano, the chorus will present a festive mix of music to open the holiday weekend - from show tunes and spirituals to a rousing rendition of "God Bless America."
The chorus will sing Randall Thompson's setting of the Robert Frost poem, "Choose Something Like a Star," which was famously premiered in 1959 at the bicentennial celebration of the town of Amherst. The great poet, sitting in the front row for that performance, rose at the conclusion of the piece and spoke to the choir: "Sing it again." And they did.
"One of the special treats for the audience and for the chorus," says Mr. Boak, "is that we're going to have two of our scholarship students performing Friday night. One of them, Jonathan Ryan, was our scholarship winner four years ago and just has finished his four years of school. The other, Rebekah Nivala, has just finished her first year. So it's kind of fun to have these bookends."
Island Community Chorus concert, Friday, July 3, 8 pm, at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. Donations accepted, a portion of which support future beneficiaries of the Peter R. Boak Music Award.
Nis Kildegaard, a columnist for The Times, is a member of the Island Community Chorus.