Connections: A Joyful Noise

It is a personal delight — and a good cause

   Concerts by the Choral Society of the Hamptons are sources of pleasure for our audiences, and they receive wonderful reviews. But for me, the Choral Society is more than that: It is a personal delight — and a good cause. I sometimes call myself a defrocked soprano, because I once had all those top notes, but now am an alto. No matter. I can head into a rehearsal feeling tired or out of sorts, and it falls away as I concentrate on the score in my hands and the collective sound of music-making. “Zen and the Art of Singing?”
    The society is in high gear now for our big summer concert on Saturday, and I can’t think of anything I would rather be doing this week than going to the rehearsals. I admit that I was skeptical when I first heard about the Choral Society in the 1970s. I had sung with the Rutgers University Chorus and several of New York City’s best groups, and I really didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t until I recognized the name of a bass (Dinwiddie Smith) as a member of the chorus who, like me, had sung at the Church of the Heavenly Rest in Manhattan, that I deigned to give it a try.
    The pleasure was all mine. I even was the Third Witch in a performance of Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” once. But time and an emotion-consuming family illness caused me to drop out in the 1980s. I didn’t return for about ten years.
    Nowadays, although we are an amateur group, we boast a good number of professional musicians as singers. Peter Martin Weiss and Jane Hastay, a bassist and pianist who perform American standards and jazz at local venues, often at Pierre’s restaurant in Bridgehampton, are in the bass and alto sections. Tom White, the organist of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, sings with us, as does Janet Fensterer, an organist for two South Fork churches, and a Ross School teacher. Suzanne Nicoletti is head of middle and high school vocal music in Sag Harbor, and Christine Cadarette is a soloist, pianist, and voice and piano teacher.
    Then there is Peter Ludlow of Bridgehampton, who will accompany the orchestra at the organ on Saturday in the place of our regular accompanist, Thom Bohlert, music director of the East Hampton Presbyterian Church. Many of our singers also play instruments and a few are in the bell choirs of local churches.
    We are a proud mix. We have at least two members who have been with the chorus since its founding in 1946, and three new members who are high school students.
    If we keep getting better it is largely due to our music director, Mark Mangini, and to some of the newest singers, like the woman who is singing with us for the first time and who Mr. Mangini says has the most naturally beautiful voice among the sopranos.
    Saturday’s program honors Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee. Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, two of Handel’s Coronation Anthems, and an orchestral piece heralding the Queen of Sheba’s entrance at court from Handel’s oratorio “Solomon” are on the program. It will be preceded with British style at a benefit high tea at the Living Room at c/o the Maidstone, the East Hampton restaurant and inn. (The Choral Society’s Web site has all the details, choralsocietyofthehamptons.org.)
    Saturday night is one of the busiest of the summer. Guild Hall will host Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone; the Bay Street Theatre will present a revival of “Men’s Lives”; fireworks will be seen over Gardiner’s Bay, and, of course, myriad parties, public and private, are on many calendars. Nevertheless, we expect a crowd. The concert begins at 7 p.m. at the Parish Hall of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton, and promises to be over in time for you to go out for dinner or to see the fireworks — humming a tune.