Westchester Women’s Chorus Finds Way to Give Thanks…Virtually

Members of the Westchester Womens Chorus

The Westchester Women’s Chorus (WWC) was one group of local performing artists forced to cancel a concert due to COVID-19, and while its members mourned the loss of the opportunity to perform months-long rehearsed Broadway music, they did not sit idle.  WWC and its leader— award-winning 30-year veteran music teacher, choral conductor and co-owner of The Cortlandt School of Performing Arts, Carol Arrucci—rallied the women to use their vocal talents to give thanks to local front line workers—the health care professionals of Phelps Hospital/Northwell Health.  The heartwarming result is a choral version of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” now live on YouTube as The Westchester Women’s Chorus Tribute to Phelps Hospital/Northwell Health (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bP3btiM7YAU)

If we were to add up the disappointments that have mounted since the explosion of the Novel Coronavirus in the United States in mid-March, we would most likely say that each one of our losses topped the list.  There were cancelled wedding receptions, lost job opportunities and unattended funerals, the latter speaking to the most heart-rending of scenarios resulting from this 21st Century plague.  It would seem that a cancelled concert should be at the bottom of this list, and as life events go, one would have to agree.  Yet, the arts are what bring us the joy to escape the reality of what has become our “new normal”—telecommuting for those fortunate enough to still have jobs, checking temperatures at the slightest sniffle, and the heart-wrenching separation from those we love the most.  Stepping back in time to the Great Depression, one of the most effective coping mechanisms was attending the Saturday cinema for a whopping .10c, with its newsreel, cartoons and feature film bringing welcome respite from the reality of welfare lines and visions of the unemployed begging for work on the streets of America.

In explaining why she chose Phelps, Ms. Arrucci stated that generations of her extended family were born and also cared for at the hospital, and that she felt a special connection to the workers there.  So, off to work she went, writing a four-part arrangement of “Hero”, and spending countless painstaking hours recording parts, mixing pre-recorded files from individual singers’ homes with her talented protégé and son, Ray Arrucci, Jr. and working closely with her group to ensure a professional audio and visual presentation that would truly honor the people who put their lives on the line daily to save ours.  Ms. Arrucci then handed off the pre-recorded audios and videos to chorus member Alyssa Mendes, who did the masterful video editing you see as the final clip.  “I couldn’t just do nothing after our ‘The Magic of Broadway’ concert was cancelled,” said the veteran theatre professional.  “I had to give our women a chance to shine for the community, to bless those who needed to hear voices singing in their honor.”

“The Magic of Broadway” was to have taken place last March 27 at The First Presbyterian Church of Ossining, and wisdom outweighed desire in the early cancellation of the musical event.  Featuring such well-known pieces such as “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen; choral highlights from Motown: The Musical; and a special surprise take-off on musicals about nuns; “The Magic of Broadway” is on hold until further notice.  “But Broadway will be back,” said the confident choral director, “I just know it!”

The WWC is Ms. Arrucci’s brainchild; she brings her rich background teaching voice and her vast choral conducting experiences in local theatres and on Broadway to the table as musical director.  She formed the WWC to meet a need for a representation of women on the concert stage in Westchester County.  The members of WWC are comprised of a select ensemble of professional, former professional and amateur singers dedicated to the performance of beautiful and compelling repertoire created with real women’s voices in mind.  In addition to opportunities for solo and ensemble pieces, WWC members hone their skills and interests through committee efforts, bringing hobbies and vocations together in a corporate effort.  The WWC enjoys collaborating with other women’s organizations throughout Westchester for the purpose of building women’s networking groups.  “I wanted to provide an opportunity for women to get support, visibility and most of all, community, through their singing talents” said Ms. Arrucci.  Recent charity performances included the Veteran’s Home in Montrose, other nursing homes throughout Westchester, the Jefferson Valley Mall and The Gullotta House fundraiser holiday show.

For more information on the Westchester Women’s Chorus, contact Ms. Arrucci at 914-420-8966 or womenschorus@yahoo.com.

4 Comments

  1. It was a wonderful tribute to Phelps Memorial Hospital and to all who work there to save lives.
    The singing was lovely and brought tears to my eyes.
    It is a very uplifting experience to hear such beautiful voices and for such an important cause.

    Thank you for this.

  2. I so enjoyed the article written by Anne-Marie Annunziato regarding the Westchester Women’s Chorus. I am a member of the chorus and Anne-Marie’s article truly captured the essence of the chorus and our amazing director Carol Arrucci. She covered all the bases with her heart felt words so eloquently placed. I knew that Anne-Marie was a wonderful singer but had no idea that she is also a fabulous writer!

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About the Author: Anne-Marie Annunziato