Peter Boak extends his stay with Island Community Chorus

Peter Boak has been conducting the community chrous for 25 years. — Gabrielle Mannino

Every cloud really does have a silver lining. Music director of Island Community Chorus, Peter Boak, who planned to retire after the chorus’ December 2020 concert, has decided to postpone his retirement for another year. 

In an email to chorus members, ICC board president Pam Butterick wrote, “After careful thought and consideration regarding how his final year is going for all of us, covered by a fog of Covid-19, he has decided that we will all have been robbed of a final full year’s rehearsal and concert experiences. With the summer concert questionable and a possible return of Covid-19 before next December’s concerts, he has chosen to spend an extra full year with us.”

Boak, also the organist and music minister at the Federated Church in Edgartown, said in January that after 25 years at the helm of the ICC, “We’re all at a good place, and I feel good about what I’ve done the past 25 years.” 

Boak first led the Island’s public performance of Handel’s “Messiah” in 1994, and after his second year of leading the choir in that program, one of the chorus members came to him and said, “Is there any reason why we can’t keep singing?” Their first performance was at a celebration of the new Hebrew Center building in 1996, with around 40 members. Now the ICC, made up of 120 voices, gives three performances a year, in the spring, summer, and at the holidays.

The concept of the ICC wasn’t his, Boak reminded everyone back in January.

“There’s been a community chorus on the Island since before the beginning of the 20th century or right after,” Boak said. “There was a men’s chorus, and over time it became coed. There were some lapses, and then someone would come along and revive it. A form of the chorus has been on the Island for a hundred years, so what we’ve done for the past 25 years wasn’t a new concept. We just revived what had been dormant for awhile.”

For the ICC, they’re grateful to have him for another year. 

“His decision was yet another huge gift from him to the chorus, and the greater community as well,” Butterick wrote in an email to The Times.