Sisters in song plan final concert

WESTFIELD-Young women in the Moriah Chamber Choir are preparing for a final concert on April 7 that will be bittersweet and full of emotion.
The 4 p.m. concert, titled “Sisters in Song,” will be conducted at the First Congregational Church on Broad Street.

Members of the Moriah Chamber Choir are, front row: Rhys Cook, Rachel White, Mara Winer, Kiran Sharma, Maura O’Neill and Aria Willey. Back row: MacKenzie Haskins, Kat Houck, Becca Osowski, Maddie Lemieux, Rebecca Monti, Mandy Maloney, Sarah Calabro, Taylor Calabro, Fionnuala Matthews, and artistic director Janet St. Jean. (Submitted photo)

“The chorus is a wonderful group of girls who sing for the love of singing,” said Janet St. Jean, artistic director, adding her greatest joy has been “sharing a deep love for each other and transforming ourselves through the music we create together.”
The Moriah Chamber Choir, established in the fall of 2004, is an offshoot of the Young Singers of Greater Westfield which disbanded last year. St. Jean and Allan Taylor spearheaded the original artistic group because they saw a need in the community for children who wanted to take their singing to a higher level of artistry. On Jan. 11, 2001, the first chorus began rehearsals.
Choir members slated to perform are Sarah Calabro, grade 9, and Taylor Calabro, grade 11, both of Southwick; Maura O’Neill, grade 9, of Blandford; Aria Willey, grade 6, of Granville; Kiran Sharma, grade 9, of West Springfield; Mara Winer, grade 12, of Agawam, and Rachel White, grade 7, Rhys Cook, grade 9, Kat Houck, grade 9, Maddie Lemieux, grade 10, Becca Osowski, grade 10, Mandy Maloney, grade 10, Rebecca Monti, grade 10, Fionnuala Matthews, grade 11, and MacKenzie Haskins, grade 12, all of Westfield.
St. Jean noted that the concert will simply be the girls’ voices and the music.
“No special lighting or microphones,” said St. Jean, adding the singers wish to share the beauty of music they have discovered over the years.
“For me, Moriah has been all about learning to connect to the music I listen to,” said Taylor Calabro. “The more time we spent articulating over a few measures of a song, the more I got to understand what the song meant to me. Through this practice, I’ve learned to analyze and really decode a song’s personal connection to me.”
Rebecca Monti echoed those sentiments.
“Music is very meaningful to me and sharing it has been such a great experience,” said Monti. “I love how we can always capture the emotions we are feeling in a song. For me, Moriah is about making connections and sharing our love of music with the world.”
While the choir will disband after this spring’s concert, the girls have formed a second family which is sure to endure during the years to come.
“I am honored and so grateful I get to sing with such great girls, that I am part of such a great family, and that I have made lifelong friends,” said Becca Osowski.
Maura O’Neill concurred.
“I have had an amazing experience and made great friends,” said O’Neill. “I am deeply saddened that Moriah is ending but I am glad to be one of its final members.”
Doors of the First Congregational Church on Broad St. will open at 3:30 p.m. for the family concert which will culminate with a reception at 5:30. Admission is free to the concert, however, a freewill offering will be taken to cover the cost of the event.
The singers will perform a variety of songs, ranging from a Hebrew song about a prayer for peace, to songs about the beauty of life. Also, a “jazzy set” is planned, as well as an original song titled “Sisters in Song” by the choir who have been collaborating with accompanist Jerry Noble on the arrangement since January. In between sets, Noble and Taylor will perform.
“This last concert is a bittersweet time in our lives,” said St. Jean. “We’ve had a wonderful run and are grateful for our extensive community support.”
For the singers, they too are grateful for the community’s support and the experiences they have shared.
“Young Singers/Moriah means everything to me,” said Madison Lemieux. “It started and fed my passion for singing. Without it, I don’t think I would sing like I do today – both in quality and quantity. I also wouldn’t have met some of my best friends, and without them in my life, I would be very bored and lonely. The Moriah experience means everything to me and shaped me into the person I am today.”
Kat Houck and Rachel White agreed.
“Meeting all these amazing people in this group has been the best experience and I will never forget how special that was to me,” said Houck.
White added that although she hadn’t been a member of Moriah as long as some of the other singers, she had been a member of the Young Singers for “nearly half of her life.”
“I remember looking up from the audience at these high school girls singing beautifully and wondering if I would ever sing so well,” said White of the chorus. “Now I get to sing alongside some of the same girls, and in my heart there is no greater honor. Young Singers/Moriah has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
These sisters in song perhaps say it best in lyrics they wrote for this special concert – “Oh, Moriah, I hear your voice so clear. Your golden light is shining down on all those gathered here. And we’ll take your music with us wherever we may go. Your memory remains within our hearts we know.”

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