Oratorio Society concert to celebrate 85 years of music

Members of the Oratorio Society of Queens fill the stage at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center during their concert in December.
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With the Oratorio Society of Queens’ 85th anniversary spring concert scheduled for this weekend, Artistic Director and Conductor David Close said he was excited to finally see all the hard work leading up to the event come to fruition.

“There’s a whole mechanism that goes on behind the scenes and it all culminates with that final performance,” Close said.

The group, founded in 1927, is the oldest and longest-running musical institution in the borough, he said.

And to celebrate 85 years, the chorus will perform Beethoven’s “Mass in C, Op. 86” as well as a special Armed Forces salute, African-American spirituals and opera highlights Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Queensborough Performing Arts Center at Queensborough Community College.

Close said there was a little something for everybody this year, making the concert dynamic and appealing.

“We find this style of programming makes it possible for lots of people to have something they can enjoy,” Close said. “We wanted to include a wide spectrum of people and give everyone a really good show.”

The Oratorio Society, an 85-year-old community chorus made up of more than 120 members, performs under Close’s direction. Soloists for the spring concert also include soprano Geraldine McMillian, mezzo-soprano Patricia Cay, tenor John Easterlin and bass-baritone Vaughn Fritts.

“We have committed to taking our little corner of the world here and making this music as available and accessible to a broad range of the population,” Close said.

The artistic director said the spring concert took several months of weekly choral meetings and the task of managing more than 100 performers.

But all the hard work, he said, pays off when the group provides concert-goers with an experience they will not get through new media and did not have to trek into Manhattan to obtain.

“The most exciting part is when the audience sees the show because that’s the reason we do it,” Close said. “Hopefully, they enjoy it and cheer and we feel like we’ve served them by serving the music and, as a result, serving ourselves.”

QCC is at 222-05 56th Ave. in Bayside. Ticket prices at the box office are $25 for general admission, $20 for seniors and students with ID and children 12 and under are admitted for free if accompanied by an adult.

For more information, call the Oratorio Society of Queens at 718-279-3006 or visit

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 6:53 pm, May 16, 2012
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Reader feedback

Marsha from Whitestone says:
The Spring Concert 2012 (85th Year) shouldn't be missed. Beethoven's Mass in C is glorious! Our performance includes many patriotic songs that honor our Veterans and those currently serving, as well as all citizens of America. It's an extensive program with something for everyone.

An OSQ member
May 16, 2012, 8:06 pm
Barbara from Fresh Meadows says:
Not only do the listeners enjoy our concerts; we enjoy preparing the music for them. Singing in this great group with our wonderful leader Maestro Close is a real joy!

An OSQ member
May 16, 2012, 10:42 pm
Lynn Hanousek from Astoria says:
A little bit of heaven on earth when you hear Beethoven' s Mass in C major.
May 18, 2012, 7:59 am

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