by Christine Galeone
In 2004, a couple of church organists approached Diane Pollard. They knew she was a talented vocalist and pianist who had experience vocal conducting the Northbridge Middle School’s drama club. They also knew that she was well connected in the Blackstone Valley music community. When they asked her to put together and conduct a chorus for an ecumenical Advent concert, she was happy to do it.
What the organists didn’t know was that Pollard had already hoped to establish a choral counterpart to the Blackstone Valley Community Concert Band. However, her kids were much younger then, and she didn’t think it was the right time. But the Advent concert gave her the nudge she needed to make that dream a reality. “People had such a good time,” Pollard said. She added “Everything fell into place, and the chorus was born.”
Since founding the Blackstone Valley Community Chorus, a non-profit group based in Douglas, Pollard has served as its conductor and its artistic director. Although serving in those roles require a lot of hard work and dedication, her efforts are rewarded in a heartfelt way. She’s connected her community through music.
The 6th-grade English teacher for Newton Public Schools currently lives in Douglas with her husband, Pat. But her love of music extends into other parts of New England as well. She sometimes vocal directs and musically directs performances at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, Conn. Additionally, she sings with two bands based in Connecticut – Flamingo Big Band and the Al Fenton Big Band.
But despite commuting for work and other opportunities, her heart is where her home is – in the Blackstone Valley. That’s where she nurtures the voices of the BVCC’s 55 members from throughout the region. The chorus of all age groups and levels of experience perform a major spring concert and a major fall concert each year. In between, the group performs at nursing homes, senior centers and at community events such as Uxbridge’s First Night and Sutton’s Chain of Lights. They perform songs in almost all musical genres – from classical to popular contemporary music and a wide range of others.
For the fall concert, the group collaborates with and learns from Vocal faculty members from Ithaca College. Pollard recalled that the first collaboration was a moving one, as it occurred on the night of the devastating Sandy Hook school tragedy. The performance was of Handel’s “Messiah.” Noting that the music is about finding light in the darkness, Pollard said the concert provided “a powerful place for people to seek solace.”
Pollard, who’s looking forward to the chorus’s November performance of Mozart’s “Requiem” at the Valley Chapel in Uxbridge, said that the chorus and the community share a bond through music. “There’s a tremendous opportunity to connect with the community,” Pollard said. “We really provide a very valuable service. Because we do free concerts, people come to us to be entertained, to be uplifted and to be comforted; our group takes that responsibility very seriously.”
For more information about Blackstone Valley Community Chorus, you can visit its website, www.bvcchorus.org. If you would like to suggest a Blackstone Valley performer for this series of articles, please contact Christine at [email protected].