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Queens Chronicle

Forest Hills Choir focuses on community

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Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:30 am

The Forest Hills Choir is all about community, and in keeping with that paradigm the two-year-old group will perform pieces by Forest Hills resident composer Bill Ryden on Nov. 17.

“The Forest Hills Choir is a true community choir in every sense of the word. I’m new to the group, but I’ve already seen first hand how Todd [Wachsman, artistic director and conductor] and the members of the choir truly care about each other and the community as a whole,” member Lianna Purjes said.

Through Wachsman’s work with the St. Luke’s Episcopal Choir in Forest Hills, he found many of the residents wanted a place they could sing besides in church. He put together an appreciation of barbershop singing, and after the concert many of the singers said they wanted more.

“I can take a hint,” he said. ”My fellow singers, my coworkers and friends have all championed the idea of me starting a choir in New York and I’ve decided they’re right.”

The now 35-person strong, eclectic choir grows each year. Members are anywhere from from 26 years old to in their 70s and their day jobs are just as wide spanning — lawyers, a computer programmer, musicians, teachers, dancers and scientists.

Although members spend their days working various jobs, they show their dedication to the group by practicing every Tuesday as well as putting together two performances each year.

The choir is also a lot of fun for Wachsman, who said it’s a way to get “back to my roots.” He spent many years in Tucson, Ariz., exclusively as a choral director.

When he decided to broaden his musical options, he realized he needed to move to the Big Apple. Since then he has found his musical companions not only in the off-Broadway shows he has performed in, but close to home in Forest Hills.

Saturday’s performance will start off with “Magnificat” by John Rutter, a British composer who also created a “Gloria” and a “Requiem.” The composition has seven movements, which go from bombastic to tranquil, Wachsman said, in which a soprano has a few solo parts and the choir echoes.

“It covers a really nice range and a lot emotional ground,” he said.

In the second half of the performance, the choir will sing three of Ryden’s Christmas pieces — in the spirit of the upcoming season.

Forest Hills Choir performs ‘Magnificat’

When: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m.

Where: The Church-in-the Gardens, 50 Ascan Ave., Forest Hills

Tickets: $20/$15 for students and seniors/$5 per child.

fhchoir.org

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