Spring concert in bloom with budding talents

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If the blossoming flowers and the warmer weather didn’t tip you off that spring is upon us, the arrival of the Oratorio Society of Queens’ annual spring concert would be a good indication that the season is in swing.

The content of the society’s annual holiday concert is generally dictated by a repertoire of holiday standards, but the spring concert is always a bit more eclectic, according to maestro David Close.

“With spring, the sky’s the limit,” he said on a bright day last week, sitting on the porch of his home with LeeAnn Close, his wife and the society’s treasurer.

The concert, which will be held May 22, at 4 p.m. in the Queensborough Performing Arts Center at Queensborough Community College, will feature Brahms’ “Liebeslieder Waltzes.” The English translation of the title means “love songs,” and right before the work’s publication Johannes Brahms said he hoped “they will become real family music, and sung a lot.”

“Mostly folk-like in nature, Brahms set all of the pieces in the most popular folk style of his time: the waltz. Each song is to-the-point, catchy and a perfect musical expression of the text chosen,” reads the society’s spring newsletter.

“Brahms worked as a choral conductor. He wrote the pieces to private songs sung in the home,” the maestro said.

The concert will also include African-American spirituals and Americana songs such as “Hallelujah,” from the movie “Shrek” and “This Land is Your Land” — led by Jerry Korobow on guitar and banjo. Also presented will be an original composition by intern Julie Bouchard.

“In the program, I try to balance what the singers want to sing and what the audience wants to hear,” Close said. “Almost all of the singers sing in a church or temple choir. Church anthems are sung every Sunday, and the known repertoire is recycled over a 20- or 30-year period. With the pieces by great composers there’s more of a learning curve. They’re more grandly presented,” he said.

The 120-plus members of the 84-year-old community chorus, ranging in ages from 16 to 86, perform and carry on the tradition of what the maestro calls “the American choral experience.”

“You would recognize these people as your friends and neighbors. They’re teachers, speech therapists, dentists and lawyers. They’re the people who run the New York City subway,” he said. “They’ve been carrying this on since 1927 in a world of change. That’s really amazing.”

“Especially in the borough of change,” added LeeAnn Close.

QCC is at 222-05 56th Ave. in Bayside. Parking is free on the main lot adjacent to the theater, which offers easy-access entry. Ticket prices at the box office are $25 for general admission and $20 for seniors and students with ID. Children 12 and under accompanied by an adult are admitted free. For additional information, visit or call the Oratorio Society of Queens at 718-279-3006.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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