Oratorio Society presents seasonal sounds

The Oratorio Society of Queens will give the community a chance to enjoy the sounds of the holidays without having to leave the borough to do so.
The group, which was originally called the Oratorio Society of Flushing, was first formed back in 1927 by the “movers and shakers” of Flushing. One reason for it was because they did not want to have to go all the way into Manhattan to hear quality music.
“I think what happens is we’re in the shadow of Manhattan and we kind of get a little lost, yet that does not mean that music shouldn’t be available in the community,” said artistic director and conductor David Close.
There are now more than 100 members in the society. Although the majority of the members are from Queens, there are some who come from other areas such as the Bronx and New Jersey.
Forest Hills resident Anne Brueckner, 65, first joined the Oratorio Society of Queens 35 years ago. Her daughter was in a play group and one of the other mothers was a member. He brought Brueckner, who had an extensive background in music, to a rehearsal.
“I fell into it and I haven’t looked back,” Brueckner said.
Bea Roman, a 59-year-old resident of Flushing, joined in the fall of 2005. About the same time as some personal circumstances changed in her life that gave her more free time, Roman received a postcard in the mail from the society. She said she still doesn’t know how she initially got on their mailing list.
“I said ‘this is the moment to sing’,” Roman said. She continued, “I’ve loved every moment of it.”
Jessica Bauch, an intern who also performs with the group, first got involved five years ago when she was 16.
“I have the time of my life here,” Bauch said. “It’s so much fun. I truly have not found a friendlier, happier group of people.”
According to Oratorio Society president Patty DeCiccio-Franke and Close, it is the bond among members that sets the group apart from other organizations.
“These are wonderful, family-like people,” said DeCiccio-Franke, who joined in 1997 and has been president for about five years. “You come and you tend to stay.”
Close, who began as the group’s accompanist and became conductor in 1970, added that the society has “a real sense of community.”
Along with performing music from their classical repertoire, the society now performs more popular songs, such as Christmas and Chanukah music. Close said that the goal is “to create a more fun environment.”
“There’s so much talent throughout New York City,” Brueckner said. “There are so many people who haven’t discovered us who, I know, are people like me who have a lot of musical background.”
The Oratorio Society of Queens will perform its Annual Holiday Concert at 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 21 at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center in Bayside. The society will be joined by The Orchestral Arts Ensemble of Queens and guest soloists Geraldine McMillian, John Easterlin, and Vaughn Fritts.
For more information on the Oratorio Society of Queens, call 718-460-0726 or visit www.queensoratorio.org.

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