By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Westborough – Last fall, Deb Hadges began as the new accompanist of the Westborough Community Chorus (WCC), becoming an integral part of an organization with a history of long-term relationships. WCC was founded in 1971 with Faith Newark as its director. Deb Lukey has served as its director since 2001 with Jim Duncan as accompanist for 11 years. Some chorus members have participated for over 30 years.
Hadges interviewed for the accompanist position when it opened last May.
“I sat in with the chorus and Jim Duncan, who is absolutely amazing,” Hadges said. “I was thinking to myself that I's never be able to fill his shoes. Then I came back in September and started as accompanist. Everybody was so nice and welcoming.”
The first to welcome her was the WCC director.
“I knew that Jim would be very difficult to replace, but we were so fortunate to get Deb, an equally brilliant pianist,” Lukey said.
Hadges learned to play piano at age 7 – although it wasn's initially her instrument of choice.
“Actually, I wanted to study accordion,” she shared. “My parents had an accordion teacher and a piano teacher come to our house and speak with me. Luckily, my parents talked me out of accordion and I learned piano. They probably thought piano would be more versatile.”
Hadges holds an associate degree in music from Dean College. A classically trained pianist, she has been teaching private piano lessons for over 20 years at her home studio in Bellingham. For over 10 years, she has been the accompanist at Bellingham's middle and high schools.
With fewer piano students during the summer break from school, Hadges checked Craigslist last May for potential work in her field and found the accompanist position with WCC beginning last fall. She began by rehearsing WCC's “Holiday Joy,” which was presented last December.
Her 17-minute commute to rehearsals in Westborough from Bellingham doesn's faze her. And she's hardly the only out-of-towner in the chorus. The president of the WCC is Bill Harrington of Southborough.
“We have more than 100 members,” Harrington said. “About 60 percent of the chorus members are from outside of Westborough. Some of the other towns represented are Southborough, Northborough, Marlborough, Shrewsbury, Hopkinton, Grafton, Upton, and from as far away as Worcester and Westwood.”
Hadges noted that a chorus member's hometown is rarely discussed after introductions.
“I's not from Westborough, but once I walk into a rehearsal, I feel like I's part of the whole family,” she said. “They'se such a fun group of people and Deb Lukey has a great sense of humor. Everybody is always laughing.”
WCC resumed rehearsals in January for its spring show, “Harmony: Family Style,” to be presented Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 18, at 2 p.m., at Gibbons Middle School. This year's theme is songs by musical families with a repertoire including the Beach Boys, Bee Gees, Carpenters, Everly Brothers, Jackson Five and others.
“I love this music because it's all from my era, the “70s,” Hadges said. “My whole family – my children and my husband – all played music and wrote songs together. They used to call us the Partridge Family.”
The spring show includes some of her favorite cica-“70s tunes.
“”We Are Family” by Sister Sledge is a really fun song and it sums up the idea of the show,” she noted.
Hadges is the author of four short books about practicing piano – and excuses not to do so. The books are available at Amazon.com and her website, DebraHadgesPianoStudio.com.
For ticket information for “Harmony: Family Style,” visit WestboroChorus.com.