Village Singers add some ‘Swing’ to the holidays
Mike Gasso performs percussion for the Nigerian number "Betelehemu" during the Village Singers' "Yule Be Swingin" winter concert on Dec. 1. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 7, 2013 7:03AM
LAKE ZURICH — The Village Singers attracted crowds to Lake Zurich’s Alpine Chapel last weekend with their annual holiday concert. The group of about 30 singers performed what Director Sara Pardo called a “potpourri” of seasonal songs.
The concert, titled “Yule Be Swingin,’” included songs like “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” “In the Bleak of Midwinter,” and “Betelehemu,” a Nigerian holiday song performed in Swahili.
Pardo said the group also has an annual spring concert every May.
“It’s kind of amazing the way the community supports music,” Pardo said. “I think the community really appreciates it.”
The Village Singers was started in 1997 when Jeannine Saltman moved to Lake Zurich from Grayslake. Saltman had been an associate director of a singing group in Mundelein.
“When we moved out here, I figured I wanted to start something in my community,” said Saltman. “At our first rehearsal we had 23.”
Saltman said she started the group for anyone in the area who wanted to sing. She said she did not want to potentially reduce the size of the group by requiring auditions.
“If you want to sing and you want to belong, you can belong,” she said.
Saltman, a retired elementary school music teacher, said her late husband was also instrumental in forming the Village Singers. When Saltman stepped down as director several years ago, Pardo took the role.
“I owned a performing arts school in Long Grove,” Pardo explained. ”This is my second concert year.”
Pardo said she chooses the songs performed at the concerts from the music library at the Ela Area Public Library. Though Pardo took over as the group’s director, Saltman is still a member and she performed with the rest of the group last Sunday.
“She loves to sing, so she came back,” said Anne Marie Conard, music librarian for the Village Singers who sometimes helps Pardo choose which pieces to perform. Conard said she has been with the group for the last thirteen years and has fond memories of 2000, when the group played three concerts in New York City.
Mary Falduto, another Village Singers member, said what she likes best about the group is that there are no auditions or criteria. Falduto said after finding the Village Singers in a newspaper ad, she liked the idea of not having to try out.
“That worked well for me because I always loved to sing,” she said, adding that the group begins practicing in September for their December performances. Falduto said the song “Betelehemu” was a highlight of the concert for her, in part because the group learned the Swahili words of that song in order to perform it.
“That went over wonderfully,” she said. “That really made our concert because we worked so hard to learn those words.”
Falduto said the Village Singers include sopranos, tenors, altos and other vocal ranges.
“There is a place for anyone who loves to sing,” she said.