This month I would
like to write a short profile about our wonderful choristers. You
may not know the basics: we arrive on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., gather
robe and collect the music that Maestro Sarff has put out for future
practice, as well as the music for that day (which has been practiced
for three weeks already.) Tom commutes by bus, train and ferry and
another bus on the Staten Island side.
Our SOPRANO section (the higher female voices) carries the melody
in most of the pieces that we do. Our soloist, Ann Sohm,
has voice students and is also a student of Fr. John Walsted.
She creates beautiful icons, one of which is displayed at the back
entrance to the church. All of this is accomplished despite her
bout with muscular dystrophy and the fact that she must walk with
a cane. Bravo, Ann!
Valerie Quinlan is a noted solo violinist and
has also played with orchestras locally and nationally. Valerie
studied violin in Germany. She is also responsible for organizing
the Christ Church Sunday Afternoon Concert Series which has featured
some very wonderful vocal and instrumental performances over the
Ann Louderback lives just up the street from
Christ Church - actually on Pendleton Place - so she has a very
short commute. During the week she participates in a fitness regime
at the YMCA on a daily basis. And she likes cats, too!
Beth McLean (formerly Beveridge) is a full-time
instructor in sports at McKee High School. She also has four sons
and keeps them very busy with healthy activities. It is rumored
that her students have nicknamed her Mrs. McLean: Lean and Mean.
Shirley Black is the only female chorister in
the Black family (except for her granddaughter, Eva Marie.) Shirley
enjoys a good joke, and even though she has difficulty walking she's
always helping at Church Fairs, different agencies, and does a lot
of cooking at home and also at Christ Church when there are suppers
or luncheons. Her lamb stew has become a tradition here at Christ
Church on Maundy Thursday.
Vlasta Jantzi holds a Bachelor and Masters of
Music from the Manhattan School of Music, major in Voice and minor
in Piano. She is a winner of the Spoleto Singing Contest in Italy.
Opera roles include Michaella in Bizet's Carmen at the Rome Opera
Co.; NBC Opera Co. , NY. She sang in the production of Fidelio;
in the Opera in the ROund at NY Carnegie Hall she sang the roles
of Cherubino, Countessa, Daonna Elvira, Mimi, and Pamino. Vlasta
was an adjunct professor of Graduate Studies in Music at the College
of Staten Island and was Musical Specialist for NYC High Schools.
Vlasta is also a member of the NY Singing Teachers Association
and of St. Cecilia.
Nancy (Reiersen) Scromo is a ”Jill of all
Voices” - she is able to sing both alto and soprano and does
so wherever the need is greatest. She is one of the editors of the
Tower Chimes, a member of the Altar Guild and the Vestry and is
also a very calm and kindly person.
We miss Enid Mitchell very much. A staunch little
lady from Belize, a teacher and a grandmother, who became an American
citizen just a year ago. Her recent funeral service at Christ Church
was attended by over 200 people.
Then there's me. I like to sit at the altar end
of the front pew. From there I can see an inscription in memory
of my late husband Irwin.
The ALTO section faces the sopranos. There aren't many of them,
but they are valiant
Mae Seeley has been in the choir for many years.
She is very active in volunteer work and stands on various committees
on Staten Island.
Linda Reiersen has also been active in the choir
for a long time. She was a teacher at Wagner High School, is also
a co-editor of the Tower Chimes and a member of the Altar Guild.
She and her husband, Hal, are also members of The
Richmond Choral Society.
Janet Schneider has also put in a lot of years,
as did her mother, Virginia Peel. And in addition to raising perfect
children, Janet is a member of the nursing profession.
Shirley Elfers is quite a busy member of our
parish. In addition to her long-time membership in the choir, she
also serves as Altar Guild Directress, has been a tireless member
of the Women of Christ Church, and serves on many other committees
both here at Christ Church and in other local organizations.
Our TENORS (they are the men with the higher voices) are led by Jay Spadaro. Jay is the tenor soloist and has been
in the choir for over 50 years - and probably knows the words to
every hymn in the book!
Bill Beveridge is a lifetime member of the choir.
Sundays wouldn't be the same without seeing his smiling face in
the tenor section. His enthusiasm and musical abilities are quite
Hal Reiersen is also a strong tenor, and a soloist
from time to time. He works in shifts - day and night - for the
Bergen Light Line Railroad, and he usually comes into the rehearsal
room telling us that it is now his Friday evening or Monday afternoon.
He's always in a good mood!
Andre Black, son of Willie Black, Jr., is the young man who often wears his hair in braids. He is extremely
creative - paints, writes poems, referees with his father and brother,
and spends probably a third of his life at Staten Island Hospital.
He was born with Sickle Cell Anemia and can tell immediately when
he should be checking in. Even when he's bed bound in the hospital,
he is creating drawings, poems and necklaces of beads which he sells
at our Fairs. On bad days he gets where he wants to go by using
a wheelchair. What a guy!
Last - but surely not least - are the BASSES. These are the men
with the low, strong voices. Willie Black, Jr.
(a/k/a Pappa Black) recently stepped down as Warden
of the Vestry, but continues to head the Social Concerns Committee
and coordinate all of the wonderful work that it does.
His oldest son, Willie “Buster” Black, III is the one you'll hear on the low, deep bass notes. When he's not
in the choir, Buster keeps extremely busy coaching our church basketball
league and serving as a scoutmaster with our Boy Scout troop.
Bill Brown is another faithful member of our
choir, and has been singing at Christ Church since Jack
Bainbridge was the director. It's quite unusual not to
find Bill in his regular spot each Sunday.
And finally, there's David Seeley. David's musical
talents have graced the tenor section for many years. He's quite
enthusiastic about the music we perform and is a faithful member
of the bass section.
We are blessed with our choir members and we hope that now you'll
know us all just a little bit better. Thank you Father Michael,
for your trust in our voices.