Big band sound is set for music concert at The Community House
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:24AM
Toes will be tapping and smiles will form naturally Sunday, May 20, when the Jolly Boys, Cantate and the Free Notes perform at the Community House. The three ensembles will perform light spirituals, some Broadway music and patriotic works as well as melodious love songs and spirited jazz pieces. But, really the best part of the concert is that most of the talent on display is not just of high quality but is also local.
We’ll start with the granddaddy — literally and figuratively — of the performers, the Jolly Boys an all-male singing group. This is the Jolly Boys 64th season, according to Dick Pinto, the group’s leader. He’s been a member a long time but no where near 64 years. Scott Jones, who is now 97, is the founding member, but he no longer sings with the Jolly Boys, though Jones will very likely attend the concert.
This group of men singers originally came together as a bunch of guys who had sang in college and wanted to continue doing it as a pastime. Jones was a member of the Princeton Glee Club and other founding members had ties to Yale’s famous Glee Club. In fact, according to Pinto, himself a Yale graduate, many of the Jolly Boys’ songs come from the Yale Glee Club songbook including “We Meet Again Tonight, Friends” which is how the Jolly Boys always conclude their concerts.
The group originally sang a capella and rehearsed in member homes and would perform for others in their homes. But, around 15 or 20 years ago, it started to perform with a piano accompianist as well as a paid director, and so the group began to use more public facilities for both rehearsals and performances, and those spaces included Washington Square and The Burr Ridge Club as well as The Community House. The May 20 performance is actually a fundraiser for the Community House, the Jolly Boys way of saying Thank You.
“We sing for our supper, so to speak,” Pinto said.
The Jolly Boys almost always wear red blazers when they perform. Unlike navy blue or even Masters Golf green, red blazers aren’t exactly a hot commodity, so some of the jackets have been passed down from generation to generation.
In order to perform, the Jolly Boys’ rule of thumb is that the audience members must outnumber the performers, joked Pinto. While anywhere from 20 to 24 men make up the Jolly Boys at any given time, the singers didn’t have to worry about that “rule” in 2001, when it sang to 27,645 people who had gathered in what was then called Comiskey Park before a White Sox game.
Joining the Jolly Boys for a few songs as well as its own repertoire is Cantate, an eight-women ensemble who formed about four years ago and took their name from the Italian word for song. These women were, for the most part, friends from a Union Church of Hinsdale women’s singing group. Besides Deckert, who leads the group, is Connie Riemer, a former Prospect School music teacher on the piano, Kathy Eisel Intorcia, Claudia Moffat, Kathy Anderson, Lucy Tarabour, Lorelei Collins and Ginger Terlep. Some are retired music professionals.
“We have a uniquely beautiful sound,” Deckert said, adding the group has a lot of fun together too, besides just making music. “We laugh so hard sometimes we can barely hold our stomachs.”
The Free Notes is a 17-piece big band which has been performing together for more than 30 years now. Most of its members are from Chicago’s western suburbs, and most of its members are professional musicians. Those that aren’t are just as gifted, according to Ron Chocola , who has been a member since 1985 and the leader for the past seven years. In fact, the Free Notes perform professionally throughout the Greater Chicago area, but this concert is a volunteer thing.
The concert will be popular if past concerts are any indication according to Pinto of the Jolly Boys. It will be held at 3 p.m. in the Community House, 415 W. Eighth St., Hinsdale. Tickets are $10 for Community House members, $13 for adults and $5 for kids. Call (630) 323-7500 for information.
(630) 320-5448 •