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South Salem's Oratorio Society Set For 17th Season

The Westchester Oratorio Society is kicking off its 17th season in South Salem on Sept. 3. Photo Credit: Courtesy Westchester Oratorio Society
The group features dozens of singers and musicians from all over Westchester County. Photo Credit: Courtesy Westchester Oratorio Society

LEWISBORO, N.Y. -- The Westchester Oratorio Society in South Salem is ready for some singing.

The group is set to kick off its 17th season on Sept. 3 with rehearsals at the Katonah Library. The first note will be played at 7:30 p.m. and, according to conductor Benjamin Niemczyk, it's come one, come all. Niemczyk said the group will host an open house and rehearsal for prospective members from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Katonah Library. "It's open to anybody from anywhere," said Niemczyk, who is entering his seventh season with the Westchester Oratorio Society. "There are no auditions for the group. We have a voice placement for them. They sing for me for 30 to 60 seconds and I get to know what kind of voice they have. There is no sitting in a room with a judge." Niemczyk will be in charge of getting the group ready for two performances of Handel's Messiah in the fall. The first one takes place on Nov. 24 at the South Salem Presbyterian Church followed by an encore on Dec. 7 at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Mount Kisco. "You'll get a high-quality performance, a New York City kind of performance, but locally," said Dean Travalino, who is on the board of the directors of the society. "It's a kind of music that you don't hear all the time. And for the singers it's a great experience to be part of and learning from the weekly practices." The society was founded in 1997 and according to Niemczyk , is known for its performances of early music, choral masterworks and contemporary pieces before local audiences with professional soloists and orchestras, and collaborations with premier groups and artists. "We tend to stay with the chorus at the center of the music," said Niemczyk. "The chorus is going to be the highlight of it. If people want to hear a soloist, they go to the opera. If they want to hear just the orchestra, they go to symphony. But if they want to get everything, they go to a group like ours."

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