A classical collaboration comes to KHS

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Tue., Dec. 6, 2011
Members of the three choirs and their accompanists practice before the show on Saturday. Photos by D. Coffey.
Members of the three choirs and their accompanists practice before the show on Saturday. Photos by D. Coffey.

An audience at Killingly High School was treated to three choirs performing as one when the Eastern Concert Chorale, the Concert Choir of Northeastern Connecticut and the Norwich Diocesan Choir joined musical forces for a concert on Dec. 3. More than 100 singers, accompanied by a 14-piece orchestra and four soloists, sang Haydn's “Te Deum” and Mozart's “Coronation Mass.”

CCNC Musical Director Dr. David Belles said, “The repertoire was chosen because it's a great repertoire. We wanted to do something with multiple movements with professional soloists. And the Mozart piece is just a great piece.”

Belles has been the musical director for CCNC since 2005. He and an ensemble from the choir performed the “Te Deum” at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Nov. 13. “We thought we'd share the work we did in New York here at home,” he said.

Belles and NDC Director Doug Green came up with the idea for the choir collaboration last April. “It's a great way to build community and to learn about the rich source of talent that's right here in our backyard,” Belles said.

Before the concert, Belles moved members of the choirs around on the risers to balance the sound of their voices. It was the first time that the choirs had sung together in the Killingly High School auditorium. Conductor Kevin Buno said the choirs had gotten together only once for a rehearsal and that was in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Norwich. Their performance at Killingly High School was a first for the combined choirs. In the months leading up to the concert, each choir practiced on its own, once a week.

A small chamber orchestra with violins, oboes, trumpets, cello, bassoon, timpani and organ accompanied the choir. It would have been typical of the orchestra accompanying a chorus in Mozart's time, Buno said.

Buno took over directing duties when Belles left the podium to sing as one of the four soloists. He joined soprano Katherine LaPorta, mezzo-soprano Sarah Heisler, and tenor Lynn Maxfield.

Judith Roure has been a member of the Northeastern Connecticut Concert Choir since 1972. “It's such a wonderful choir,” she said. “There are no tryouts. Everyone who wants to sing can join. People take themselves out of the choir, not the other way around,” she said.

“Each of these ensembles is open to the community,” Belles added. “If anyone is interested in being part of a community organization in their own backyard, these are wonderful opportunities.”

Roure said she sings for the sheer joy of it. “Not only do I give myself a gift,” she said. “I give everyone else in the community a gift.”

Sue Mix traveled from Charlton, Mass., for the concert. “Their voices just brought you into the song,” she said. “They were all together. It was glorious. It lifted my heart.”

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