‘Tis the season for Franklin County Community Chorus 

  • Members of the Franklin County Community Chorus rehearsed songs at the Guiding Star Grange a few years ago. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Members of the Franklin County Community Chorus rehearse songs for their holiday concert on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Greenfield High School in the auditorium. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Paul Calcari, music director of the Franklin County Community Chorus, conducts a rehearsal. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Members of the Franklin County Community Chorus  STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • The Franklin County Community Chorus sang during a tree lighting at Veterans Mall a few years ago.  STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Paul Calcari (lower center) conducts a rehearsal. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/5/2019 10:18:57 AM
Modified: 12/5/2019 10:18:47 AM

The holiday season is here and Paul Calcari, founder of the Franklin County Community Chorus, says if you spend just a couple of hours with the chorus Sunday, you’ll be more than ready for it.

“I guarantee our concert will pump people up for the holiday season,” Calcari said. “No one will leave there without having some pretty beautiful holiday music in their head.”

Franklin County Community Chorus will perform its holiday concert on Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Greenfield High School auditorium. A $5 donation is suggested to help defray the cost of renting the auditorium. Calcari said neither he nor the group receives any pay — it is an all-volunteer group.

Former longtime Greenfield High School music director, Calcari started the chorus in 2013 when he retired.

“It has grown considerably in seven years,” he said. “We fluctuate with between 80 and 85 members. We have a lot of older members, but we also have some young members, as well.”

He said the age of the chorus’ members range from their early 20s to 96 years old.

“Some are very experienced, while others have never sung a note in this type of group,” Calcari said. 

Franklin County Community Chorus is not an audition group, Calcari said, so there is a wide range of experience, but those who have a lot help those who have little or none.

“It’s a real high-quality group,” he said. 

Calcari said the concert will offer all types of secular and religious holiday music.

“There will be lots of familiar songs and a few that are not familiar, but I guarantee they will be after this,” Calcari said.

He said he’s “very proud” of the group. He said they’ve worked hard over the years — many have been there since the beginning — and are now doing things that are a little more difficult than when they first started.

“Every year they get a little better,” he said. “Everyone is welcome to come and sing with us, but they need to know that it’s a big commitment.”

He said the group consists of former teachers, current teachers, doctors, retirees and many more.

“I have a couple of people who in the spring were hesitant, at first, because they only sang in the shower before this,” Calcari said. “We find people’s strengths and play them up, while taking their weaknesses and trying to help them with those.”

Calcari said he has been a music teacher for more than 42 years, first teaching at Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School for 10 years and then Greenfield High School for 30 years. He said after he retired he substituted around Franklin County when he was needed.

“Even though I’ve been doing music for so long, it’s the people I love most about doing this,” he said. “They’re all so giving. It’s a fun group that loves to laugh. How can you not love that?”

He said the group rehearses each year from September through May, taking the summer off. The chorus meets at Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield every Sunday night from 6:30 to 8:30, taking a 10-minute break halfway through.

“It turns into a little longer, because the members spend their break time laughing and talking, and I have to work to get them back to work,” he laughed.

Calcari said members come from as far as West Springfield, so he said the chorus was not able to have a dress rehearsal this time, as it typically does because of the recent storm.

The chorus first started performing at the grange, but soon outgrew it. People had to stand outside during the first concert. It then moved to Blessed Sacrament Church on Federal Street, but outgrew that venue as well.

“Now, at Greenfield High School we can fill the place with the joy of singing,” Calcari said.

“This is such a privilege for me,” he said. “It’s such a pleasure every week.”

At Sunday’s show, Calcari said to expect religious songs like “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and a “gorgeous arrangement” of “The First Noel,” as well as some Hanukkah songs. The chorus will also perform secular songs like “Santa Baby” and “Please Come Home for Christmas.”

“I promise people will enjoy this,” he said. “They work so hard, I hope people come out to support them.”

Calcari said the chorus is always looking for new members and the only prerequisite is that they have to love to sing. 

“If you love to sing, you’ve come to the right place,” he said.

On Jan. 12, the chorus will start rehearsing at 6 p.m. so that people can pick up their music and sign papers if they want to join. Membership dues are $25 per season. 

For more information, call Calcari at 413-775-9384 or visit: bit.ly/2rQ9pBQ.

Reach Anita Fritz, the senior reporter at the Greenfield Recorder, at afritz@recorder.com.

Greenfield Recorder

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