Weekly Feature

2017-05-18 / Front Page

Curtain call Keenan-Takagi to retire from Orchard Park Chorale


Keenan-Takagi Keenan-Takagi With one concert to go, Kathleen Keenan-Takagi, the artistic director of the Orchard Park Chorale, is retiring from her post after two stints with the group.

The chorale has been in Orchard Park for 42 years and Keenan-Takagi’s career with the group began in 1980, when she was a music teacher in the Orchard Park School District. She said she was drawn to the chorale by the director at that time, the late Carl Druba.

“He had been my conducting teacher in college [Potsdam Crane School] and a wonderful mentor to me,” she said.

Keenan-Takagi, a native of Orchard Park, sang in the alto section and stayed with the chorale until 1987.

“I had a great time, I called it my bowling night,” she said. “I loved the people and enjoyed the work.”

Her musical career has also included being part of the Orchard Park Symphony and founding the Freudig Singers of WNY.

During her time away from the chorale, Keenan-Takagi obtained her doctorate from the University at Buffalo and took a teaching position at Illinois State University, where she led several choruses.

She returned to Western New York in 2003 and served as the choir director of First Presbyterian Church in East Aurora for seven years.

Come 2010, Keenan-Takagi came back to the chorale to take the post of artistic director, which she has held for seven years. Her role has involved articulating a vision for the chorale, along with selecting and preparing the music for the upcoming season of concerts.

“The chorale, like the Orchard Park Symphony, has been a major cultural activity in the town and the larger community,” she said. “What brought me back was I thought we could expand our outreach and do other kinds of activities in the town and community.”

Some of those projects included a concert called “Voices Across the Americas,” where the chorale combined with high school students in the Buffalo area; joining the Orchard Park Chamber; and singing at the Quaker Arts Festival.

Keenan-Takagi’s final concert, “Garden Melodies,” will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 21, at Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 4369 S. Buffalo St.

According to a release from the chorale, the concert will feature “With a Voice of Singing” by Martin Shaw. It also includes Gabriel Fauré’s “Messe de Requiem” with orchestra accompaniment of Solisti of WNY, to include Beth Breneman (harp) and Joanne Hollenbeck (organ.) Nicholas Kilkenny and Holly Bewlay will perform as soloists.

The program will also include “May Night” by Johannes Brahms, “Sally Gardens” by Benjamin Britten, “Girl’s Garden” from Randall Thompson’s Frostiana and “Edelweiss” from Roger and Hammerstein’s Sound of Music.

Keenan-Takagi said she’ll be singing in the chorus for one of the selections.

Tickets for the concert will be available at the door for $15, or $25 for preferred seating.

Knowing it’s her last show with the chorale, Keenan-Takagi said it will be a mix of emotions.

“I’ll be sad not to have something special to look forward to, but life is all about adjusting and finding new opportunities,” she said. “There’ll be some sadness, but there’ll be determination to do something valuable in the rest of my life.”

Keenan-Takagi said she’ll remember the moments she had with all the members, who come from 16 communities.

“There’s something individual and immediate about facing people week after week, seeing the expression on their faces and watching them as they have life experiences, she said. “There can be a very personal exchange making music together.”

Following the concert, Keenan-Takagi will be taking a few months off and has vacations planned for the Pacific Northwest and Chautauqua. She is also looking to get involved with civic endeavors in the area, and she will continue to be involved with music as she pursues other opportunities.

The board of directors for the chorale will conduct a search for Keenan-Takagi’s replacement.

For more information on the chorale and the concert, visit www.orchardparkchorale.org.

email: cgraham@beenews.com

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