Comments from Members of the Community


“It is a double gift.  The singers receive a rich musical experience through their work with [Arlene Sagan, BCCO’s director], and the audiences receive free concerts at a high level of musical accomplishment. …


She and her chorus are a vital and important part of the cultural life of Berkeley.”


  --Joseph Liebling, Conductor emeritus, Oakland Symphony Chorus


“The chorus takes all comers (no auditions) and trains and instructs them musically for a minimal fee to perform difficult music, which is presented at free concerts with first-rate soloists and an orchestra.  The concerts are given in an outstanding venue twice a year.  The hall is always packed, the music wonderful.  You have to see it to believe it….


Arlene and her group provide an incredible music education, performance opportunity and social experience for a large group of all ages.”


 --Bennett Markel, M.D. 

“The Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra has between 150 and 200 singers and about 40 instrumentalists.  Each of those singers and instrumentalists has families.  Each of the six concerts the chorus performs in one year draws hundreds of listeners.  That seems to me to be quite a ‘significant impact’, and it’s happened year after year. …


“[Upon hearing a performance of Poulenc’s masterpiece Gloria], I couldn’t believe untrained singers and pickup instrumentalists could perform that well.”


--Jerry Mueller, Music Department faculty member, City College of San Francisco; Composer and Winner of BCCO’s 2005 Choral Composition Competition 

“Our view is that BCCO concerts are a major treat and an amazing community resource.  Where else can whole families hear great music (frequently difficult music) sung and played with such joy and expertise – and free?  It is hard to believe that chorus members do not audition, and we realize how much time and hard work go into the rehearsals for each performance.”


 --Muffy and Harry Thorne, Oakland Residents

“Music was always an important part of my life, but until I joined BCCO I was a listener.  Singing and being able to experience music from the ‘inside’ has given me tremendous joy.  And I owe all of this to the BCCO policy of welcoming anyone with interest.  Had courage and an audition been requirements, I would not be singing today.”


--Marcia Hofer, BCCO former board member 

“I went to BCCO last night and, as usual, was blown away by the performance.  The chorus sounded wonderful, nuanced, beautiful phrasing, great diction and on and on.  The orchestra sounded fabulous and the soloists were tops.  I was brought to tears at the end.  KUDOS TO ALL.”


--Tricia Swift, Member,  BCCO Honorary Advisory Board; Member, San Francisco Symphony Chorus 

“I was in St. Joseph the Worker church most recently on Sunday evening, the night before Father Bill O’Donnell died.  It was that most Berkeley of events, the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra’s holiday special:  Handel’s Messiah, sung by an enormous assemblage of unauditioned but well-rehearsed community members who rattled the stained glass windows with glorious sound.  The orchestra was splendid.  The soloists were thrilling.  The audience enthusiastically stood up to join in singing the Hallelujah Chorus.  BCCO performances bring out all kind of Berkeleyans, people who probably couldn’t sit down at the same dinner table for conversation (or even agree on the choice of a restaurant), but who manage to get together harmoniously a few times a year.”


 --Becky O’Malley, Executive Editor, Berkeley Daily Planet (12/12/03) 

“[During a performance of Beethoven’s Fantasia in C major] I am not sure whether anybody actually swooned, but I swear that several listeners were near to it.  The chorus took advantage of the rich acoustics in St. Joseph the Worker Church, filling the sanctuary with a mighty sound.”


 --Miko Sopler, Correspondent, Berkeley Daily Planet (5/9/01) 



October 2009  


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