By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury/Westborough – Long before Carla Mason joined the Westborough Community Chorus (WCC) in 1988, she had been connected with the organization, which was founded in 1971. A Westborough native now living in Shrewsbury, she’s currently serving as WCC president for the second time. She was also president 20 years ago.
“My father and sister were founding members, so I had been involved with the chorus since the beginning when I was 6 years old,” Mason noted.
Also as a child, she developed a relationship with the WCC’s original director Faith Newark. A young Mason took piano lessons from Newark and also sang in the children’s choir directed by her at the Congregational Church of Westborough. Then as a student attending Westborough middle and high schools, Mason turned pages of sheet music for the WCC piano accompanist.
While living and working in Boston in the 1980s, she officially joined the chorus as a vocalist.
“I wanted to continue singing as an adult, and as a professional doing other things,” said Mason, who now works as the special education coordinator for Berlin and Boylston public schools.
Mason wasn’t fazed by her former journey from Boston or current commute from Shrewsbury to Westborough for rehearsals and performances. She’s hardly the only out-of-towner in the chorus. According to the WCC website, “Half of current members are not from Westborough.”
“Membership started to branch out more in the late-‘90s,” Mason explained. “The appeal for out-of-towners is that the chorus is really a great group of people who are very supportive of one another. It’s hard work toward show time when we’re memorizing music and rehearsing more frequently. Everything is held to a high standard, but it’s still always a lot of fun.”
After the original director Newark lost her battle with cancer in 2002, the then-accompanist Deb Lukey became director and still serves in the position. For Mason, it’s another example of longtime relationships within the WCC. She and Lukey performed together in the church children’s choir.
“Deb and I see each other weekly at rehearsals and talk more often than that,” Mason shared. “We bounce ideas off of each other and work very well together. It’s a good match.”
Each season, the chorus produces a holiday concert and a springtime presentation with various themes. Last spring’s theme was love and friendship. Among the repertoire were the songs “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Happy Together” and Mason’s favorite, “You Raise Me Up.”
Rehearsals resumed in September for the upcoming holiday show. Members become accustomed to beginning autumn by singing holiday tunes, noted Mason.
“It’s only annoying when I’m walking my dog down the street and singing Christmas songs in September,” she joked. “They sometimes creep into your head when you don’t want them to.”
To commemorate the 15th anniversary for Lukey as director, chorus members voted for their favorite holiday songs that they’ve sung in concerts during the past decade and a half. The chorus will present “Our Holiday Favorites” for three performances: Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 4, at 2 p.m., at Mill Pond School.
“It’s a good selection of songs – classics, carols and others from movies,” Mason said. “The Mill Pond School auditorium was designed by acoustic engineers who understand choral music.”
Now in her 28th year as a WCC member, Mason understands why she wants to continue rehearsing and performing.
“The chorus is like a big family,” she said. “We have a huge age range; our youngest member is mid-20s and our oldest is mid-80s. It’s a really eclectic and diverse group. There’s no auditions, everyone age 18 and over is welcomed.”
For more information about the chorus, visit www.westborochorus.com.