Published January 10, 2019 with updates from the print edition


BOSTON — A thrill of a lifetime was experienced by the Chelsea High School choral students of Peter Pappavaselio who were hand-picked by Gov. Charlie Baker to perform at the inauguration of his second term in office at the State House last Thursday.

Pappavaselio, who grew up in North Reading and graduated from North Reading High School in 2001, co-directs the Chelsea High School Cantare, which is the advanced choir at CHS, with colleague Cole Lundquist.

So how did this select group of singers find themselves performing amid all the pomp and circumstance that opened the 191st General Court at the State House?

“The Cantare performs annually at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home in observance of Veterans’ Day.  This year, Gov. Baker was the keynote speaker for the ceremony, and he was so moved by the performance of the CHS Choir and Cantare that his office asked us to perform at his inauguration, immediately following his inaugural address,”  Pappavaselio explained.

PETE PAPPAVASELIO of North Reading (foreground) conducts the Chelsea High School Cantare’s performance of “On Winter Mountain” after Gov. Charlie Baker delivered his inaugural address at the State House last Thursday. Choir members include, front row, from left: Izzy Barr, Nayelhi Pineda, Alejandra Ramos, Leah Kazuko, Gitu Degafa and Salem Galicia; and back row, from left: Abbiegal Morales, Ana Chang, Samantha Iraheta, Bridget Lepore, Malaya Barr and Jesus Matos. (Courtesy Photo)

“The Choral Program at Chelsea High School consists of the Cantare, which is the advanced choir, and Choir.  Cole and I co-direct both ensembles. He was also instrumental in preparing students for the event,” he said.

They performed “On Winter Mountain,” written by Joseph Martin and Charlotte Lee. “It is a song that evokes not only winter imagery, but discovering peace and contentment,” he said. Pappavaselio conducted the singers and Lundquist assisted student accompanist Hinako Sato with equipment and page turning. The students received an appreciative standing ovation from the entire chamber following their performance, which can be viewed on YouTube:

After the inauguration, House Minority Leader Brad Jones Jr. of North Reading took the time to visit with the students and co-directors and their Principal, Lex Mathews.

“I can’t even begin to articulate how proud I am of them and how much they’ve developed as singers in the five years I’ve had the pleasure of conducting the group,” Pappavaselio commented on his Facebook page following the event.

As the lead teacher of the CHS Performing Arts Department, Pappavaselio has conducted the Cantare for five years. In addition to teaching Choir, he also teaches Music Production, which is a song-writing and recording course that he designed. Prior to becoming a music educator he taught history and law to at-risk youth at CHS for eight years.

At North Reading High School, Pappavaselio was a member of the NRHS Chorus, under the direction of Agatha Marano, as well as the drum major of the NRHS Marching Band, under the direction of Eric Forman.

Pappavaselio resides in North Reading with his wife, Janet (Verney) Pappavaselio, who is also a NRHS Class of 2001 graduate, and their children, Kate, 3, and Thomas, 1. He is the son of Thomas and Cathy Pappavaselio of North Reading.