Friends Perform Together at Carnegie Hall

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Suzanne Richardson-White and Beth Chafetz returned from New York a few days ago in a glow of success. Had they seen a new play on Broadway? Had they been to a special museum exhibit? Were they drawn by the lure of a favorite restaurant? No, none of these. Suzanne and Beth were part of an ambitious performance of Mozart’s Requiem, organized by the Athens Master Chorale, of Athens, Georgia, under the direction of conductor Joe Napoli. The singers included individuals and groups from all over the country. Their performance took place at Carnegie Hall, a space known for its fine acoustics.

Photo provided by Beth Chafetz
Suzanne Richardson-White, Conductor Joe Napoli and Beth Chafetz pose with the Observer after their dress rehearsal at Carnegie Hall.

To do justice to the music, the conductor sought singers from other venues besides his own, both individuals and groups. The resulting diversity of talent, from so many widely spaced locations, meant that while initial rehearsals took place in Athens, Georgia, they were simultaneously live-streamed on YouTube for the additional singers. Although Suzanne had lived in Georgia and had sung with the chorale for ten years, she and her family moved back to Suffield several years ago. She maintained her relationship with both conductor and chorale, and even continued to sing with them from time to time. On this occasion she reached out to her friend Beth, who she knew had been singing with the Springfield Symphony Chorus, and both women joined the effort.

On Wednesday of the big week, the singers gathered from their various home states for a few live rehearsals: four hours on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, and a single hour with the orchestra on Saturday afternoon. A company called MidAmerica Productions worked with Carnegie Hall to organize all the arrangements. The evening itself included two other groups, and the Athens group was last on the program–but last is not least, as we all know. Beth and Suzanne report that their performance was exhilarating, their best yet: a privilege to have been part of, and a lasting memory for our two Suffield friends. If only we could have been in that audience!

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