Perhaps, during his 27 years as director of the Newburyport Choral Society, Dr. Gerald Weale could have been more pleased by the performance of an earlier spring concert, but I doubt it.
This one, his last as director here, was sensational.
I attended last Saturday night’s performance at the Belleville Congregational Church as one among many others, but not as many as on Sunday, when cars were lined up on both sides of High Street for blocks.
What followed was truly uplifting. I can’t imagine a more fitting farewell gift than what the members and all those personally involved in the concert preparation created.
Early arrival had given me a chance to slake my thirst with a 32-page booklet, the contents of which are of historic importance.
I have read a number of such introductions over a lifetime. I have never read a more engaging one.
The society’s president, Joanne Jonson, wrote in part:
“This concert is a poignant passage for us that marks Dr. Weale’s retirement. For 27 years Jerry has taught us, coached us, challenged us, and inspired us.
“Often described as a gifted storyteller, he brought composers and their music to life in our rehearsal, and always radiated great enthusiasm for the music we perform.
“He has created an outstanding legacy of choral performances and he will be greatly missed.”
I was pleased to have arrived early enough to learn what was to come together with brief biographies, including that of Dr. Weale and of three others.
Dr. Kirsten Helgeland, following a broadly enriching career in teaching and performance, began to serve as accompanist with the Newburyport Choral Society in 2005.
The two guest soloists for the program were soprano Robyn Marie Lamp, whose voice and presence is assurance of success beyond what has been an impressive beginning.