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December 18, 2014
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Celebrate, celebrate... dance to the music!

TRR photos by Jonathan Fox Ten-year-old Brett Dirie, of Hortonville, NY, was all decked out for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Jeffersonville, NY.


Seeking the lyrics on line to the Three Dog Night classic, I was redirected to www.oldielyrics.com. Oldie. If I weren’t so happy to be out and about this past weekend, the reference to my age might have aggravated me. Attempting to abide by doctor’s orders, I resolved to “take it easy” last Saturday, while celebrating in Jeffersonville, NY with thousands of St. Patrick’s Day revelers.

With camera in hand and Dharma (the wonder dog) in tow, I snaked my way through the throngs, valiantly attempting to capture the thrill of the glorious weather, the convivial ambiance and the joyous families decked out in shamrocks and all things green as the kids shrieked with glee during the constant shower of goodies raining down upon them from the seemingly endless array of floats. It’s no secret that I love a parade, and the Jeffersonville Chamber of Commerce (www.jeffersonvilleny.com), aided and abetted by a zillion volunteers and contributors, did not disappoint.

Dancing to the music came easily as the Mountain Tones Community Band marched by sounding darn good, making way for the incredible bagpipers, who wowed the crowd, kilts swaying in the breeze. This “first annual” foray for the town was (IMHO) a huge success and bound to become a holiday classic. I will surely be in attendance—same time, next year.

Making a mental note to mark my calendar for the upcoming Trout Parade (www.troutparade.com) in Livingston Manor, NY and my personal favorite, the Tractor Parade in Callicoon, NY (www.visitcallicoon.com), slated for June, I snapped a few hundred photos and made a pit stop at (where else?) the Dancing Cat Saloon (www.dancingcatsaloon.com) to see what the Gays of Sullivan County (dot com) were up to. After an hour or two of being ignored while Dharma basked in the glow of admiration (having been dubbed the “official dog of the Dancing Cat” by proprietor extraordinaire Stacy Cohen) I snorted in derision and dropped her official tush off at home.

Heeding the advice of everyone within earshot, I soaked up some rays (yay, spring!) and looked at directions for the Lumberland Town Hall, which was hosting the Ithaca College Choir on Sunday, as the singers made Glen Spey, NY the fourth stop in their 2012 tour. Doing some homework before the concert, I discovered that the choir has performed major concerts at some pretty impressive venues over the years, including New York’s’ St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Alice Tully Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Carnegie Hall.

The choir’s web site (www.Ithaca.edu/music) also informed me that “In addition to their a capella tradition, the choir has performed with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra, Chamber orchestra, and wind ensemble, as well as other professional ensembles.” Suitably impressed, I took my seat with the rest of the sold-out crowd, many of whom were regulars for the Town of Lumberland’s (www.towno

flumberland.org) popular Cultural Series, founded in 1985, which “promotes a variety of fine programs including concerts of a professional nature that appeal to the residents of the Delaware Valley, the Tri-States and the local communities.”

Having attended college in Binghamton and grown up in the Finger Lakes, I was familiar with the Ithaca College Choir and aware of their stellar reputation. I was not, however, prepared to be struck dumb by the incredible performance that played out that afternoon, nor expecting the overwhelming wave of emotion that permeated the hall as the performers made a personal connection with each member of the audience.

Conductor Lawrence Doebler was equally emotional as he explained what was about to transpire: “We want you, the audience, to be involved in the text. You may not want to consult your program during the performance, since the choir will be looking at you... and we encourage you to look back.”

Unsure as to what he meant, I quickly glanced at the notes for the choirs’ 34th annual tour, aptly titled “Get on Board,” as the 50 or so members entered (to pre-show thunderous applause) in their formal gowns and tuxedoes. Their gorgeous-to-a-fault faces were shining as the singers took their places, angled toward the crowd to allow maximum eye contact and a hush fell over the hall as their voices filled the space.

Immediately, it became clear that this was to be no ordinary concert. Doeblers’ words echoed in my mind as I scanned the group and the audience simultaneously. True to the conductors’ word, the kids were looking directly at us, holding their dramatic gaze before moving on, their voices swelling to crescendo before dropping to melodious whispers as they performed an eclectic program, which included Sally Lamb McCunes’ “Crossing,” Vincent Persichettis’ “Kyrie,” Frank Martins’ “Gloria” alongside traditional African-American spirituals.

Amazing vocal control and impeccable arrangements were enhanced by stunning solo turns from Alto Adiza Jibril, bass Stephen Wilkins, first soprano Sarah Jenkins and incandescent star-in-the-making soprano Ana Strachan, whose name will be lighting up opera marquees around the world, mark my words. There are not enough superlatives to make my point. Suffice it to say that the goose bumps remained throughout my ride home and I’m already making plans for their exciting appearance at Lincoln Center next year, while searching the internet for recordings that must surely exist.

While unable to sing along (unless completely alone!), I join the legions of fans of the Ithaca College Choir as I celebrate, celebrate... and dance to the music!