Tidings of comfort and joy
Former Greenfield High School choral director Paul J. Calcari leads the Franklin Community Chorus in a resounding rendition of “Betelehemu,” a Nigerian carol that included movement, clapping and pronounced percussion Sunday at the Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield. This was the first concert for the chorus since its founding a couple of months ago. Recorder/Trish Crapo
Former Greenfield High School choral director Paul J. Calcari leads the Franklin Community Chorus in an inaugural concert delivered to a full house at the Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield on Sunday. Pianist Timothy H. Rogers provided accompaniment. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD — The Ghost of Christmas Past would have been proud Sunday as veterans of Paul Calcari’s Greenfield High School chorus relived holiday concerts past with new friends in the Franklin County Community Chorus’ inaugural concert.
Calcari, who retired as music director this spring after 27 years at GHS, led a chorus composed in no small part of his former students through a repertoire of Christmas carols, holiday classics and a few GHS standbys Sunday at the Guiding Star Grange on Chapman Street.
Another GHS concert fixture of many years, pianist Tim Rogers accompanied the chorus of about 50 and later the full-house audience of about 200, who joined in for the second half of the program.
Jason Markwell of Greenfield, a GHS alumnus of the Class of 1997, said he signed on for the opportunity to sing with Mr. C. again.
“It’s been a long time since I sang and it was good to see a lot of my old classmates, folks that I used to sing with in chorus,” Markwell said, corralling his small children. “It was fun.”
Fellow tenor Jason Higgins of South Deerfield, Class of 1994, called it an honor to sing with Calcari again.
“A lot of it is from the same stuff we used to do, but you can’t argue with the classics,” Higgins said.“It’s been great, this group has definitely come a long way in the short months that we’ve been together.”
Soprano Louise Amyot of Greenfield said she hadn’t sung with a chorus in years and never with Calcari, but knew him by reputation.
“I decided it was time for me to sing, and when I heard that Mr. Calcari was doing this, it was an ad in the paper, I decided this was my chance to have fun, so I’m back at it,” Amyot said.
Amyot confessed she was a little rusty, not having sung since college decades ago, but was surprised by what Calacari was able to get out of the group. “He says ‘All right guys, I want it from the front of the mouth,’ and it comes out differently,” Amyot said. “Now what does that mean? ... I don’t know where it comes from but it comes out differently, it comes out the way he likes it, it’s amazing.”
Calcari called his latest endeavor a gift to the community and praised the group for the quality of their performance after just a little over two months of Sunday night practices.
Dwelling on the Franklin County Community Chorus’s future more than its roots, Calcari said he knew many of his singers as former students, some as the parents of former students, but also plenty of singers who he had never met before.
“They’re coming from all around this whole area, it truly is a community chorus,” Calcari said.
“As good as they are right now, when you hear this group in two years you won’t recognize them,” Calcari told the audience.
Jennifer McCready of Easthampton, who came to the concert, was enthusiastic about the range of traditions and languages represented and the size of the crowd. “It’s a big turnout, and for a first production it’s a huge turnout,” McCready said.
“I think this is one of the better community productions I’ve ever seen,” said her husband, Tom Crean, an elementary school music teacher.
You can reach Chris Curtis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 257