OCC Spotlight

Meet some of the wonderful people associated with the Outer Cape Chorale!

April 2021 – Sue Peters

Sue Peters, Alto and Treasurer

My first musical endeavor was a ukulele while in elementary school.  I progressed to folk guitar lessons in junior high and took up studying classical guitar right after college, while living in D.C.  I was fortunate to experience living in a lot of diverse places – grew up and went to undergrad and law schools in Ohio, moved to Washington D.C., then Tokyo, Honolulu (my “halfway” house back to the US after 4 years in Japan), Minneapolis, and finally in Wellfleet.  My husband’s family hailed from Truro so that is how I ended up in the best place!

Classical guitar fell by the wayside for 30 + years during all those moves, but I began studying again about 7 years ago with a teacher at the Conservatory here.  I sang in choruses in Junior High and High School.

In addition to the usual COVID activities of neatening up closets and such,  I learned how to do collages using the heat transfer method. The basis of the collages were an interesting set of stamps that I collected while traveling in Japan and unearthed during the neatening up.

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March 2021 – Laura Gill and Marie Hartley

Laura Gill and Marie Hartley, Altos

Why is music (and/or OCC) important in our lives?

Laura:  Without music, life would simply lack luster!  And because OF it, I met the love of my life and fellow Singer Spotlight subject, Marie Hartley!  We both started singing when we were very young and continued through high school and college.  In our early 30s, we met while singing with the Choral Arts Society of Washington, DC (CASW).  We were so lucky to have been directed by Norman Scribner, and others, including Mstislav (Slava) Rostropovich and Neville Mariner, and with orchestral accompaniment of the National Symphony, we performed regularly at the Kennedy Center (and Marie in Russia and Italy).

Marie:  Music has been important in my life since childhood.  My grandmother was a high school choral director, and, just like me and Laura, met my grandfather though singing.  I have been truly fortunate to have had excellent choral directors my whole life, from Jr. High, Sr. High, Oberlin College, and post-college.  Singing has taken me to many places—Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall, The Kennedy Center, Rome and Spoleto, Italy and Red Square!

Laura’s favorite music experience?  It has to be either the first time singing in the Kennedy Center Honors behind Kathleen Battle with the president and celebrities in the audience or singing in the chorus at the Cathedral of St. John of the Divine during the Blessing of the Animals where we experienced the hushed procession of a majestic yet gentle, fully-grown elephant!

Marie’s favorite music experience?  There are two that stand out in my mind.  The first was singing at Symphony Hall in Boston with CASW in1986.  We were singing a world premier by Polish composer Krystsztof Penderecki, Polish Requiem, honoring striking workers in Gdansk who were killed during protests.  Suddenly in the middle of one of the movements, the audience quietly stood up en masse to express reverence.  The sight literally took my breath away.  Second was singing in Red Square to an audience of 100,000, including Boris Yeltsin (while there was an attempted coup going on), performing the 1812 Overture with real cannons!

What are you doing to stay sane/happy/healthy?  Besides a lot of mountain biking, we have enjoyed singing with the “Stay at Home Choir” (more than 7,500 singers from 75 countries have sung so far – so much fun!).

What are you looking forward to when we return to OCC?  Camaraderie, laughter, and joyful singing!  The best, of course, will be experiencing Allison’s infectious enthusiasm.

What is one other thing about you?  Laura: I have crippling stage fright when performing solos, but I’m working on that….

Marie:  I was once lost in the Amazon jungle.  Ask me about it!  For fun, check these out:

Kathleen Battle-Kennedy Center Honors 1993 – start at 2:17 and you’ll see Laura in the center of the screen top row!

Then in MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH, THE CELLIST AND CONDUCTOR, RED SQUARE CONCERT 1993, for a few seconds, you can see Marie, starting at 0:10 on the left side of the frame.

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February 2021 – Jeannette Bragger and Pat Medina

Jeannette Brager, Tenor

I’ve been a member of the OCC since 2004 and, since then, the chorale has been my anchor in good times and bad.  So, although I assumed that the spring 2021 season would have to be cancelled, I admit to being shocked when I received the confirmation email.  Why?  Because I miss the chorale, the music, Allison’s patience, good humor, and amazing talent to teach us, the friends who are in my carpool, and my chorale buddy who has become an important part of my life.  Thursday rehearsals always renewed me, challenged me, freed me from everyday worries and problems, and gave me the chance to sing even if I didn’t always hit the right notes.  And let’s not forget the humor and the laughter!  Because of the chorale, I truly came to experience that “In music, the distance and the nearness of space, the limitless and the limited are all together in one gentle unity that is a comfort and a benefaction to the soul.  For however far the soul may range, in music it is everywhere protected and brought home safely again.” (Max Picard, The World of Silence).

Like everyone else, I’ve adjusted to our forced isolation:  I walk in nature and photograph the birds and the other critters and plants that inhabit our extraordinarily beautiful place; music keeps me company while I’m reading; my 3 cats remind me every day about what’s truly important; I talk to friends; I love to cook; I take online courses; and my attention to others’ needs has sharpened.  More than ever, my goal has been to learn at least one new thing every day: a new word, a botanical concept, a new wildflower, or more about shorebirds.  The chorale did that for me every single Thursday.  I always learned something new, which is my standard for a successful and enjoyable life.  I wish you all safe and happy days.  Maybe the fall of 2021 will begin a new chapter for the chorale.  As for me, with the good will of U.S. Immigration Services and assuming I’ll pass the test about the Constitution, I might be a new U.S. citizen by the next time we all meet again!

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Pat Medina, Tenor

I came to live full time in Provincetown over 30 years ago and soon became a Provincetown Trolley driver, giving 40 minute narrated tours of Provincetown and the National Seashore Park.  I currently do the same work for Mayflower Trolley Co.  So, I talk a lot!

I’d washed ashore from an eclectic life of music, art and theater in Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York City.

I appreciate the wide variety of music genres we draw from to sing for our wonderful audiences here on the cape.  The commitment to our team work and the wonderful energy we create when we sing together is the nourishing juice in my heart that keeps me participating since the onset of the Chorale’s inception, oh so many years ago!  So, now, I also sing a lot!  I love it!

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December 2020 – Kathleen Henry

Kathleen Henry, Soprano

Why is music (and/or OCC) important in your life?
Music is spiritual for me. It connects me to the supernatural within me and in the universe.

What are you listening to?
I love Bach and Handel and 60’s folk music!

What is your first (or favorite) music experience?
When I was 4, I was a flower girl in our next door neighbor’s wedding. I was all dolled up in baby blue tulle. During the reception, I wandered away from my parents and took myself up to the orchestra leader and told him I could sing. What did I want to sing, he asked, and I answered: Davey Crockett. He pulled the piano bench up to the microphone and stood me up on it and I belted out every verse. My mother was HORRIFIED. “That sounds like Kathy!” she said. It’s been difficult since to get me off a stage.

What are you doing to stay sane/happy/healthy while OCC is unable to meet in person?
I read and watch great TV, and do some knitting and needlepoint.

What are you looking forward to when we return to OCC?
Hopefully by then we can hug.

What is one other thing about you?
I’ve been married for 51 years. People usually are amazed at that (not amazed I’m that old, just amazed at our staying power).

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November 2020 – Bill Carlson and Carol Etzold

Bill Carlson, Bass

I recently came across a 1932 directory for a church in Brooklyn. It had somehow survived nearly ninety years of moves and disruptions. In it, I found that my grandmother was listed as the “Directress” of the Junior Choir.  My mother was their accompanist; she was fourteen.  So it runs in the family.  My own earliest musical performance recollection is of accompanying my friend Rachel singing the “Ballad of Little Mohee” for our third grade assembly.  We must have been eight.

Singing, for me, came later, about thirty years later in fact.  So my loyalties are divided.  I cannot imagine life without music, or life without a piano, though at this point I am also missing singing terribly.  I listen to that inexhaustible source of new (to me) music, YouTube.  Current favorites are Voces8 and my new, but not for long, favorite composer Guillaume Lekeu.  (Who? you might very well ask. Check it out.)

I know deep within me that music, real music, music made with and for other people, will be back (how can we keep from singing?) but the wait is long.

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Carol Etzold, Soprano

Every day now is a new normal, but I know that on some future Thursday we will all sing together again as the OCC in the Truro Community Center.  I do miss being with all of you once a week, sharing our camaraderie, sense of purpose, and all the just plain fun that we have when we’re together.  And I miss the special experience of being surrounded by the energy we create with our sound.  There’s really nothing like the feeling that comes from making live music with our large group.

While no activity can fill the OCC’s void, I have managed to stay reasonably sane, filling my days with other kinds of satisfying activities.  I’ve busied myself with common pandemic activities.  I walked–on the beach, on the back roads in my Orleans ‘hood, on the bike trails and out on the CCNS paths.  I completed projects that had been languishing in my knitting basket.  We knitters refer to these as UFOs–Un Finished Objects.  And since I couldn’t enjoy singing in the OCC, I also retreated into my kitchen and cooked, and then cooked some more.

I didn’t bake many desserts and yeasty breads because my husband is gluten sensitive and avoids sugar.  Rather, I found satisfaction creating my kind of comfort foods. During the pandemic’s cold early months,  I made pots of such dishes as Sea Clam Chili, Kale Soup, Eggplant Parmesan, and Pork, Fennel and Lemon Ragu.  I do admit to occasionally enjoying NOT cooking even more than cooking, so I made big batches of each recipe and banked future meals in our freezer.

As Spring (finally) arrived and the weather warmed, I transitioned from using a soup pot and Dutch oven to more frequent use of a saute pan and my husband’s year-round willingness to grill over charcoal.  Warm weather is usually the time of year when we have visiting far-away family and friends with us.  Providing a different kind of comfort, I made meals that were favorites of these still far away VIPs and remembered the good times spent with them as we ate.  I made Eggplant Fans, and Capreze Pasta for my BFF Melissa in Ithaca, Swordfish with Parsley Sauce for Linda and David in Ridgefield, Panko and Goat Cheese Crusted Rack of Lamb for my cousin Terry and his wife Cindy in Fairfield, and, year-round, many grill-roasted whole chickens because roast chicken is my favorite comfort food.

Now cooler weather is returning, and I have new recipes I want to try.  On the other hand, restaurant take-out is starting to look more and more appealing!

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October 2020 – Kat & Chris Vasquez and Martha Magane

Kat and Chris Vasquez

Hello tenors, basses, altos and sopranos! Hello Allison! Boy do we miss you!! The other day, late in the afternoon, I was pulling into my mother-in-law’s (Mary Cassel) driveway and I felt a pang of melancholy. It felt as though we should be picking up Mom for chorale. But alas, not to be.

Chris and I haven’t stopped singing during this endless pandemic. We take voice lessons virtually and in person. Chris’s teacher has a huge plexiglass screen between him and his students. We have been participating all summer with the Truro First Parish choir, recording and texting our parts to our minister Rev Chad Kidd, who does a fabulous job synchronizing anywhere from four to twelve singers.

Our most exciting news is that we are realizing our dream of “Music, Meditation and Ministry.” As of September 12, we are officially students of the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine. Even before the pandemic, the school had decided this was the year to offer “blended learning” where students could take the weekly classes on zoom, but attend the monthly weekend workshops in person.

We’d been looking forward to spending weekends in Portland, but for the moment, the workshops as well as the classes are virtual. In two years we expect to be ordained as interfaith chaplains, serving our community in creative ways we are only just discovering.

Hope to see you all actually, not just virtually, but that too.
Peace and blessings!
Chris and Kat

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Martha Magane, Soprano and Board Clerk

I come from a family that encouraged self expression. As the youngest of four children, I first exercised this with loud tantrums so I’d be heard over the din of all the others’ talents. Later, after we cleaned out my mother’s family house that went back generations, all of us became enamored of an old Edison phonograph and collection of cylinder records, and were allowed to bring it home. Rainy days we’d wind up the phonograph, put on a record, and sing along. My favorite was “Red Wing.” It was sung in a wobbly old-timey voice and there were scratches that gave the tune an interesting depth.

Then, when I was in second grade, a neighbor friend of mine invited me to sing with her in the youth choir at a church we could walk to from our houses. I was hooked! It was there I learned how to read music and it quickly became my own form of self expression. I’ve been singing in choirs ever since.

The pandemic has broken a sense of continuity that has been my musical underpinning for many years. I miss learning new music and the excitement of rehearsals and that intense concentration on notes and nuances that makes you forget all of the problems you had during the week. But the break from singing has led me to listen to some music I didn’t have time for before, and it’s been a fun time of discovery, going down the Youtube rabbit hole to watch master classes and musicians’ practice sessions. One really strange thing, though. Each morning for the past several months I have been waking up with a random (usually pop) song going through my head. It makes me realize just how many are rattling around up there!

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September 2020 – Kathy Fogle and Nancy Sweeney

Kathy Fogle

If music soothes the savage beast, then I have felt savage AND beastly since the loss of OCC and live music concerts.  I SO miss our smiling, expectant faces at 6:30 on Thursday nights, and I REALLY miss the sound of Allison’s tinkling laughter.  The absence of my 2 choirs has left a gaping hole in my heart. I hope it is mended soon.

When I was a kid, my family had a Hi-Fi and a variety of albums. Some favorites were: Barbra Streisand’s“Color me Barbara”, Astrid Gilberto singing “Girl from Impanema” ( I still find myself singing her version of “How Insensitive” when I am in the shower or vacuuming the kitty litter), and Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”. I’m sorry to say , I couldn’t get enough of “Officer Krupke”. I remember my mother being concerned that it might not be an appropriate song for children.

Lest you think my musical taste was savage and beastly, I also loved Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”. I still love it . There is a version of “Peter and the Wolf”with David Bowie doing the voices!

When I was about eight years old, my parents gave me a small used record player and a stack of used 45s as a Christmas present(go figure… sounds like Dickens). I became COMPLETELY obsessed with The Searchers version of “Love Potion Number 9” ! I listened to it over and over again so excited by the song’s energy and story , especially the “gypsy with the gold tattoo”!

I was eight years old when my sister got “the white album” for her birthday. She told me not to touch it. I played it as often as I could. I wonder what my mother thought about the appropriateness of the song “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road”?

My sisters and I listened to all the hits of the 60s and 70s… that renaissance time of rock ‘n’ roll music, on a.m. radio . My father declared it “crap music” and switched to FM classical music in the evenings. I couldn’t imagine anything more boring. His classical albums didn’t have interesting album covers, the songs didn’t tell a story and you certainly couldn’t dance.

Pssst. Reader, I am only now admitting this to you. I did not learn, sing, or understand the beauty and complexity of classical music until I joined OCC with John Arterton and soon- to -be -continued with the incomparable Allison Beavan. Yes! We will be back!

Thanks for letting me share a little piece of my musical story with you. I miss us so much.

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Nancy Sweeney

So, what has been keeping Nancy busy during these crazy times?????

Well, I have become quite an expert with this whole Zoom thing. Zoom kept me sane through the first part of the lock down. “Zooming” with my Diva friends, family, distant friends and of course the classes Allison ran were much anticipated as they were the ONLY thing on my calendar! It was so good to see all of my OCC friends.

Walking in the woods became a daily ritual and eventually “socially distanced“ walks and hikes occurred. And of course BAKING! Bad idea as I live alone and guess who ate my creations???????

Going to the market was an adventure! I looked like an elderly woman preparing for blast off on the space shuttle! Glasses, a mask, gloves, sanitizing agents for wiping down the carriage, a list made out with an exact plan of where I needed to go in the store so I could breeze in and out of the store quickly, scanning my food with the portable scanner, paying by credit and then sanitizing my hands in the car! Oh yes, then carefully removing my mask and re-sanitizing! Then there was the unpacking of my groceries on my breezeway, wiping down boxes, washing produce, stripping down on the breezeway and streaking to the shower. WHEW! RELAXATION! (Although if any of my neighbors caught the streaking part of that event I am sure they were not relaxed!)

As the months WORE on I became relaxed but still vigilant. (At least the streaking stopped.) When it finally warmed up, as is typical on the Cape, in June, I began taking walks on Bank Street Beach in Harwich. Oh, how I love watching and listening to the waves, so relaxing and meditative.

Summer has brought small group, socially distanced gatherings in my yard, at the beach and with my family.

I miss everyone at OCC and dream about the day we can all sing together again. Watching a myriad of choruses on YouTube, playing with my new Alexa (she tells jokes!) and watching Hamilton – I think I now know most of the music – has kept me entertained.

I hope everyone has remained healthy both physically and emotionally and hope we will all be “tribbling” again with Allison SOON!

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August 2020 – Tom Jahnke and Mary Avellar

Tom Jahnke – Kapelmeister

Though much of the music in my life is on hiatus during this pandemic, some of the musical groups I am a part of decided to make changes to how and where we rehearse or play.  I miss the Outer Cape Chorale terribly as singing is one of my great passions. I have been fortunate that my small church choir started virtual rehearsals on Zoom in which the music director plays her piano while the members of the choir sing at home via the computer.  We are all on ‘mute’ so we don’t hear each other, but we enjoy the feeling of being together and singing along.  Unfortunately the Chatham Band is not allowed to perform, but the Harwich Town Band has been rehearsing off and on using the front lawn of the First Congregational Church.  We are all socially distanced which I thought would not work with a thirty piece wind ensemble, but it does.  From where I stand at the conductor’s podium, the sound is big and bright and wafts through the center of Harwich. I wear a mask as do the musicians when not playing.

Though we are not able to have an audience, the cars passing by usually clap as do the people on the sidewalk or those across the street on the deck of Harwich Center’s newest pub.  We are hopeful that we may be allowed to perform in August.

TD Bank has sponsored a series of virtual concerts as well.  One of the swing bands I am in has been preparing for our performance on a smaller scale using an eight piece combo instead of the usual twenty piece full band, again, rehearsing socially distanced in someone’s backyard.  We will tape our performance and then it will be uploaded to the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod’s Facebook page along with quite a number of other gig musicians and musical groups.  Concerts can be viewed on Sundays at 7 pm and Wednesdays at 11 am.

And since we can’t get together to celebrate as we would like, we organized a fifty car drive-by caravan through the streets of Chatham consisting of members of five different Cape Cod bands in order to honor one of our favorite musicians Karl Fehrle on his 99th birthday.  The drive-by was followed by the Sound Dunes combo serenading Karl who sat in with us and played his “mean saxophone” on quite a few of our numbers!  Keeping busy and keeping in touch keeps me sane.  And every once in a while, I’ll put on my uniform and pretend I’m on my way to a concert!

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Mary Avellar

I’ve kind of been living in a whirlwind!  I’ve had a lot of changes since January.  I’ve had to help close a business I’ve worked at for 25 year, got a new job that is overwhelmingly busy and exhausting I’m just beginning to adjust.  Started a choir directors Job at a Church in February which stopped in March and who knows when they will let the choir sing, COVID 19 is happening, OCC Stopped, I just want to say WAHHH!

Uplifting news, I’ve recently started doing vocal exercises and back to humming random songs that come to mind.  Sometimes even Christmas tunes.  I’m teaching myself guitar, practicing my flute a bit more, and playing scales and exercises on piano.  Not all at once of course.  Feels good.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at OCC and sharing the love of music that fills our hearts and energizes our souls.

Music is Breathing and Breathing is Life!