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Final wave of the baton for conductor

The Burnt Hills Oratorio Society has over 100 singers ranging from teens to those in their eighties. 
Photos Submitted

The Burnt Hills Oratorio Society has over 100 singers ranging from teens to those in their eighties. Photos Submitted

Rand Reeves has been conducting the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society for 22 years. On Sunday, May 20, he will wave his baton a final time at Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center at 3 p.m. for a much anticipated concert event.

A 43-piece orchestra will accompany the chorus, which will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s “Elijah,” a Romantic era piece. Keith Kibler of Williamstown, Mass., will sing the title role and will be supported by soloists Ann Agresta Dugan, Susan Hermance Fedak, Deborah Savoy and Derek Stannard.

“This work is one that draws people who know the repertoire,” said Reeves.

The society was founded 41 years ago by Dr. Glen Soellner, who at one time brought Reeves on as a soloist. Reeves, 62, has fond memories of his position with the chorus through its many changes over the years, and of guiding its members in fulfilling its mission: “To present public performances of the master works of choral music and, thereby, provide a meaningful experience for audiences and performers alike.”

“The gratifying thing is to see how the group has grown and how we’ve matured,” he said.

Initially, the chorus had 60 singers and performed two concerts annually. At a time when the society wasn’t perhaps as it is now, Reeves played a major role in strengthening its board of directors and the group’s longevity as a whole. Today, the chorus is made up of 105 singers.

Pedro Aviles of Rotterdam has been with the chorus as a first tenor for 15 years and said, “Rand really is excellent, even if you are kind of new in the game … he’s very good at getting a phenomenal sound out of (our) group. … The quality of the music, even though it was excellent then, it’s better now and his reputation has spread.”

Aviles added that many singers who haven’t been with the group for several years will be singing in the final concert, because Reeves “is who he is.”

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