By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Westborough – As the director of the Westborough Community Chorus (WCC), Deb Lukey followed in the footsteps of her longtime mentor, Faith Newark.
“Faith was my choir director at the Congregational Church [of Westborough] from when I was in the first grade all the way through high school,” she said.
Lukey majored in music education for three years at Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Va., and ultimately graduated with a business degree. In the late-1980s to early-“90s, she worked in the Westborough school district as a piano accompanist for grades one through 12.
“It was the school system that I grew up in, so it was being in a familiar place,” she said. “I was working with teachers who I knew and it was great making music with the kids.”
In 2001, she became the accompanist for the WCC, which was founded in 1971 with Newark as director. When Newark lost her battle with cancer in 2002, Lukey was asked and accepted to direct the WCC at the funeral service.
“We were all so struck by her passing,” Lukey shared. “The funeral was a beautiful and moving tribute to Faith. It was an honor to be asked to direct the chorus there.”
As director since 2002, Lukey has continued the already established schedule. Each season, they produce two shows: a holiday concert and a spring presentation of various themes. The WCC currently consists of about 90 members from age 22 to 86 from several communities.
“We have people who have been in the chorus well over 25 or 30 years,” Lukey noted.
A longtime participant was Jim Duncan, who recently retired as the WCC accompanist.
“Jim and I worked together for 11 years and he's a stellar pianist,” Lukey said. “He's still willing to sit in if I need him.”
Duncan accompanied the WCC's most recent spring show, “When You Wish Upon A Star.”
“Last spring's show was all Disney music,” Lukey explained. “We opened the show with all of the chorus members marching on the stage and singing, wearing mouse ears and white T-shirts with their names on them, like the old “Mickey Mouse Club.””
They reprised the Disney tunes at the Westborough Cultural Council's fifth annual Arts in Common in the fall. Lukey is pleased to have an annual arts festival in her hometown.
“Arts in Common is a brilliant idea,” she said. “There are so many people in Westborough who are involved with the arts. You can go to one place and see so many different forms of artisans – crafts, dancing, singing and performing.”
Deb Hadges started as the WCC accompanist with the recent concert, “Holiday Joy,” which was presented Dec. 6, 7 and 8.
“I knew that Jim would be very difficult to replace, but we were so fortunate to get Deb, an equally brilliant pianist,” Lukey said.
While the themes of the spring shows have varied greatly, the holiday concert tends to focus on familiar seasonal songs.
“I try to change it up a bit each year,” Lukey said. “Some years we go traditionally toward carols. This year, I went more toward pop music like “Grown-Up Christmas” and “Believe” from “The Polar Express.””
The WCC returns to weekly rehearsals Monday, Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m., at the Westborough Senior Center. New members are welcomed and there's no audition.
When not volunteering as the WCC director, Lukey manages Framingham Dental Group.
“I make a living doing something I like and then have fun doing something I like,” she said. “I think it's the best of both worlds.”
For more information about the WCC, visit westborochorus.com.