Guest Conductor expands our skills

Type of post: Choir news item
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Randy Pope
Status: Current
Date Posted: Thu, Jun 2 2022
Since 1983, the Binghamton Downtown Singers have been known for performances of large-scale vocal masterworks from centuries past. Even our occasional forays into a more modern repertoire have been for major works with full orchestral accompaniment.

But Artistic Director Marisa Crabb knew that we were capable of even more and, for our spring 2020 concert, planned a program that blended more traditional fare (Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem and his Cantique de Jean Racine) with shorter pieces that would perhaps take us out of our musical comfort zones.

For that portion of the concert, Crabb turned to Peter Sicilian, a Tri-Cities Opera veteran who parlayed his performance training and experience into a career teaching and coaching at both Binghamton University and SUNY-Broome. COVID-19 shut down the 2020 rehearsals, but, fortunately, Sicilian was again available for this year.

“It’s always been my intention to do this sort of performance in which we do different types of music,” Crabb said, adding that she had long wanted to work with Sicilian. She said Sicilian has a different approach to preparing singers, including a wide variety of vocal exercises, that would “make the choir stronger.”

Sicilian will conduct Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitaker, Prayer of St. Francis by Allen Pote and Hosanna, Hosanna by Glenn Burleigh, all with piano accompaniment, and the a cappella Shenandoah, arranged by Derric Johnson. The unaccompanied Shenandoah and the gospel-style Hosanna are particularly new ground for some of the chorus members, but Sicilian has helped the choir rise to the challenge.

Crabb describes Sicilian as both a longtime supporter of Downtown Singers and as a friend and TCO colleague of her late husband, DTS co-founder Alan Crabb. 

“Downtown Singers is such a mainstay in the community. From the time of Alan in the ’80s to the present day with Marisa, I have always looked forward to their spirited performances, and I am thrilled to step in front of this group of amazing musicians and be some small part of this musical powerhouse of the Southern Tier,” Sicilian said.

Sicilian, who also serves as music director/organist at the Church of the Holy Family in Endwell, received his bachelor music degree from Syracuse University and a master’s in music with an opera specialization from Binghamton University. He is a former artistic director of Tri-Cities Opera.