Published February 8, 2019
By MARK SARDELLA
MELROSE — There’s an abundance of musical talent right in our own backyard, and it was on full display recently in a cabaret-style setting at Temple Beth Shalom in Melrose.
The Polymnia Choral Society features a strong contingent of Melrose singers and they were featured, along with vocalists from Wakefield and surrounding communities, at Polymnia’s fifth annual Cabaret fundraiser on Jan. 26.
The lineup featured 17 primarily solo performances, with one or two duets in the mix. Bookending the show were numbers performed by the entire ensemble.
Melrose resident and Polymnia Choral Society president Steve Francis served as master of ceremonies, introducing each act and keeping the audience entertained with a healthy dose of droll humor. Pianist Dorothy Travis of Melrose provided accompaniment for all but one of the performances.
Polymnia vice president Tug Yougrau of Melrose performed “Mona Lisa,” a song written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston for the 1950 film “Captain Carey, U.S.A.” and made popular by Nat King Cole. Yougrau told the audience that growing up in South Africa in the 1950’s, his father loved the song and used to sing it for his family at night. Yougrau said that he later sang the song to his own kids. When his daughter went away to college, Yougrau shared, she asked her father to record it so she could listen to while falling asleep at night.
Elli St. George of Melrose applied her alto voice to Fats Waller’s timeless classic “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”
oprano Maria Tramontozzi performed two numbers: Leonard Bernstein’s “100 Ways to Lose a Man” from the musical “Wonderful Town” and Kurt Weill’s “What Good Would the Moon Be” from “Street Scene.” Tramontozzi was Polymnia’s 2015-2016 “Spotlight on High School Talent” winner. The Melrose High School graduate is currently studying musical theater at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.
Another soprano, Lauren Abramson, is a Melrose High School senior and was last season’s Spotlight on High School Talent winner. She performed “Hurry, It’s Lovely Up Here,” from “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.”
Brendan Carroll is Melrose’s own Irish tenor. He performed “The Dutchman,” a song written by Michael Peter Smith in 1968 and popularized by Steve Goodman. An ode to unconditional love, the song is about an elderly couple living in Amsterdam.
Eileen Christiansen and Robin Erikson from Melrose performed a duet of “For Good,” by Stephen Schwartz from the musical, “Wicked.”
Tenor Steve Francis took the stage to perform a moving tribute to his father, who passed away last year. Before launching into “Dance With My Father,” by Luther Vandross, Francis recalled growing up in Brighton and watching his father get dressed up on many occasions to go out dancing with his mother.
Wakefield soprano Eileen Worthley offered an ode to insouciance with her rousing mashup of two old standards: “I Don’t Care,” written by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, and “Pass Me By” composed by Harry Sutton. She prefaced her performance with an entertaining history of both songs. Both Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra had hits with “Pass Me By.” Worthley said she first heard “I Don’t Care” sung by Judy Garland in the movie, “In the Good Old Summertime.”
Birlyn Flint of Wakefield, a mainstay of Polymnia’s bass section, sang Ahrens Flaherty’s composition, “Make Them Hear You” from the musical “Ragtime,” calling it appropriate for the week of Martin Luther King Day.
Wakefield resident and Polymnia’s assistant conductor Katrina Faulstich took the stage to play piano and sing Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” in the style of Eva Cassidy.
Woburn’s Joanne Colella Boag sang “Where is Love” from the musical “Oliver.”
Brother Richard Cook from Malden performed “Our Love is Here to Stay” from “The Goldwyn Follies.”
Alycia Kennedy is an attorney and a CrossFit competitor with a powerful voice. She belted out a memorable rendition of “I’ll Never Love Again” from “A Star is Born.”
The final solo of the evening was delivered by Polymnia’s Musical Director Murray Kidd, who performed “Stormy Weather,” the 1933 torch song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler.
Founded in Wakefield in 1953 and based in Melrose since 1956, the Polymnia Choral Society serves the cultural and educational interests of a number of communities north of Boston by presenting concerts ranging from sacred hymns and classical music to popular show tunes.
The chorus includes more than 60 voices, with most of the singers coming from Melrose, Malden, Wakefield, Stoneham and Saugus. Some members come from as far away as Concord, Westborough, Marblehead and Topsfield.
Polymnia Choral Society is a non-profit organization, supported in part by grants and donations. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Polymnia welcomes anyone who enjoys singing to come to a rehearsal and join the chorus. Rehearsals take place on Tuesday evenings, 7-9:30 p.m. at the Melrose Highlands Church at 355 Franklin St., Melrose.
Polymnia’s next full-chorus concert will take place on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at First Parish Congregational Church, 1 Church St., Wakefield. The concert will be a historically informed performance of “The Creation,” by Franz Josef Haydn, featuring forte pianist Sylvia Berry and instruments heard during the time of Haydn.