Great Barrington, Mass – Laura Zanini grew up with choral singing. “In Italy and especially in the north where I am from, informal or formal choral groups exist everywhere,” she said. “Growing up, I took it for granted. Last December, when I moved here to the Berkshires I was looking for a chorus.”

“I almost gave up,” she said, “because most groups I came across would meet far from where I live, or on days when I was busy with work, or religion played too much of a role, or very high fees made it totally unaffordable. Then someone told me about Berskshire Sings!.”

This Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m., Zanini performs along with about 45 singers from across the region and beyond, in the Berkshire Sings! Fall Concert. The concert, an annual fundraiser which helps keep the cost of the group nearly free to the public, will take place at Berkshire South Regional Community Center’s Jaffe Auditorium.

“I was so happy to find a group that is welcoming, inclusive, committed to community singing, and to creating community at the same time,” said Zanini. “We all need this so much!”

This year’s performance includes favorites from the American Songbook such as “What a Wonderful World,” “The Water is Wide,” “Hope Lingers On,” and “All Gods' Creatures Have a Place in the Choir.”

A special highlight of this year’s concert is the inaugural performance of “On the Hillside,” written by Berkshire Sings! member Sherry Steiner. Steiner said the song was inspired “after a practice session I had with two other ukulele players [from Berkshire Ukulele Band] on the hill on the side of Berkshire South. It was one of those idyllic days when the sun was shining, the birds were chirping and wonderful music was flowing through the air.”

Judy Kinnea, a member of Berkshire Sings! since the beginning, said the songs in this year’s concert all have a message of hope and renewal. “In a world filled with nasty politics, hatred, fear and anxiety what a wonderful break each week to leave all that behind and sing,” she said.

The popular choral group, now in its eighth year, has remained an anchor for the Center since 2011. Directed every year by local favorite Rob Kelly, Berkshire Sings continues to grow. Kelly said, “We have as many as 45 attending the Wednesday evening rehearsal. The bass section is a vital part of the group now and the harmony from the altos is strong and clear with 10 to 15 voices.”

Alice Leason, another long-time Berkshire Sings! member, said that the regular Wednesday sing is a highlight of her week. “Come Wednesday evening I am really tired after a long day,” she said, “However, once I get to the Community Center for Berkshire Sings I forget how tired I am, and spend an hour and a half having a special time with others who also like to sing and enjoy the leadership of Rob Kelly,” she said. “This group is a blessing to our community.”

Steiner added, “Through Berkshire Sings the joy of singing and love of music has been enriched along with the many friendships that have come from this endearing group.”

Concert admission is a ten dollar donation at the door at this family friendly fundraiser.

(press release sent to WSBS from Berkshire South for online and on-air use) 

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