Breakout musical celebration in Orange

  • Orange-Athol Committee Chorus members, garbed in winter white and black with red embellishes, stand in formation in front of their familiar green velvet backdrop at Orange Town Hall to perform their annual holiday concert as a free gift to the community.  —Submitted photo

  • Although greatly outnumbered by expressive sopranos and altos, a vocally virile group of tenors and basses held up their end at the lower ranges in the Orange-Athol Community Chorus’s recent holiday concert held in Orange Town Hall. Pictured from left are Ken Johnson, Christopher Donelan, Tim Kilhart, Michael Donelan, Paul Maier and Daniel Jones. (Joining them just outside of view was William Johnson.) —Submitted photo

Published: 1/3/2019 12:14:15 PM
Modified: 1/3/2019 12:14:16 PM

Local chorus and audience join in breakout musical celebration

ORANGE —  The seamless program featured the creative plot twists of good theatre, stirring choral music, a few guffaws and was answered by a standing ovation. From the production’s flash mob start, to a surprise ending, even children in the audience remained fixed in their seats in the grand concert hall, designed to carry every sound and fidget.

The Orange-Athol Community Chorus’s latest holiday matinee, performed in Town Hall as a free gift to the community, represented an artistic breakout for new producers and the more than two dozen choice performers hailing from North Quabbin towns.

As the showtime hour struck, the singers - scattered seemingly randomly about the auditorium amid normal pre-show audience hubbub - broke into a rousing a cappella harmony version of “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” arranged and directed by co-producer Ann Reed. The vocalists strutted rhythmically ‘round the room on their ways to finally taking their places in formation at the stage. … to a burst of applause.

The ensuing hour featured performance of some 20 Christmastime favorites, including - new to the repertoire - the elaborate “Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” and “In The Bleak Midwinter.” Director Theresa Bergquist, in a breakout from the mores of her church conductor background, exhibited an easy, presentational style under lights.

Reed, as emcee - who early in a free-lance writing career had sold one-liners to the late Joan Rivers - wove in a few quips, amid gentle announcements, like careful strands of tinsel.

Other program features included a special mid-show medley performed by piano accompanist Stephanie Parker, an effortless audience sing-along and, in an unusual turn for a conductor, Bergquist’s facing the audience to croon the lesser-known introduction to the closing song, “White Christmas.” … leading to the huge room’s brimming with the warmth of all voices rising on I’m dreaming of a …

More than 100 audience and choir members were cordially invited to a first-ever reception held afterward in the upper lobby. All were treated to warm punch, served by producers’ spousal draftees, Terry Reed and Jack Bergquist, who donned red bow ties, jaunty caps, vests and plastic gloves. (In addition to the Reeds and Bergquists, reception sponsors included Cheryl Parker, Hannaford and Walmart.)

In soft winter sunlight that dropped in through great front windows of the historic upper floor, folks mingled smilingly over their cups o’ good cheer like characters depicted on an old Christmas card.

Stage lighting drive

In another project, the Town Hall Restoration Committee is set to ring in the new year with renewed fundraising to replace the historic auditorium’s stage lighting, according to committee member Maureen Riendeau, who also sings in the chorus.

For the recent matinee concert, organizers had made do by drawing the auditorium window draperies and then strategically using certain houselights to illuminate the performance.

Persons wishing to donate to the lighting drive should mail checks payable to the Orange Town Hall Restoration Committee, c/o the Treasurer, to Town Hall, 6 Prospect Street.




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