A musical welcome wagon

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:52

    To the editor: Two years ago my wife, a life-long city dweller, and I, a 35-year city dweller, became part of what used to be the "Great American Exodus" and moved to the country … actually to the village of Warwick. We bought our first house and our first lawn furniture, which allowed us to sit in our own backyard and enjoy our new lifestyle. While it was - and remains - wonderful, that old phrase came to mind, "a stranger in a strange land." How would we become a part of this new place? Get out and do things and meet people! We had a perceptive and informative real estate agent who had described various aspects of Warwick and those things which might appeal to us. Since I enjoy singing, she spoke of the Warwick Valley Chorale. "Why not try it?" I thought. It seems to be human nature to come up with plausible answers to the "why not "question. Time being one; after all I now had a commute to work. Personal insecurities are also helpful responses to those "why not" questions: What if my voice isn't right, what if I don't read music well enough, or what if I can't make friends? There were also the "projecting" objections: What if they were unfriendly; what if the conductor was too demanding; or what if they were too good (or too bad). The month after we moved, September, the chorale started rehearsals for its winter concert and I, putting all of my "why nots" on the proverbial back burner, kissed my wife good-bye and told her I wasn't sure when I'd be back. If that first rehearsal was okay, I'd stay for the entire evening; if not, I might be back soon. And off to explore the Warwick Valley Chorale went I. The rehearsal was more than okay. The chorale was both friendly and efficient, so I not only met people but also made some nice music. There was no audition or "test" and I sat with other singers I could rely on for help. Those "why not" anxieties began to disappear. The conductor, while obviously knowing his "stuff," also knew what he wanted and approached the rehearsal with helpfulness, patience and humor. There went more anxieties. In only two seasons with the chorale I've had numerous rewards. The obvious one's being part of an ensemble that makes wonderful music covering many musical periods and styles. Also the social reward - it is fun to walk through the village and be greeted by familiar faces and to make connections with fellow residents of similar interests. Some rewards were unexpected. I now have sung in some historical places in Orange County and been an "insider" at Warwick's famous Applefest. Oh, yes! Not to be overlooked: I've now performed twice in one of the world's great concert halls - Carnegie Hall! There are many ways to become a part of Warwick life. I am now a volunteer with the ambulance corps, more friendly people performing a real service. My wife serves on a village committee. We both are members of the historical society. So to all you new and not-so-new residents, I encourage you to get out and become a part of our lovely community. Whatever your talents or interests are, there is a way to meet people, serve your community, and have fun. If your talent or interest happens to be singing, I invite you to come and join the Warwick Valley Chorale - perhaps our country's most musical "welcome wagon." Dennis English Warwick