T. Joseph Marchio, now in his second year of leading the Cape’s only auditioned choir

By Cheryl Kain

Joe Marchio, Chatham Chorale conductor. Photo by Cheryl Kain.

T. Joseph Marchio conducts the Chatham Chorale and Chamber Singers, performing their exciting Salute to America 2012 concert on June 28, 29 and July 2nd. It’s a free concert, “To give back to the Cape for all of their support throughout the year,” says Marchio, now in his second season with the Chorale.

The Chatham Chorale is 90 singers; the Chamber Singers are an offshoot of the Chorale, employing 30 singers. Coming soon will be the Chatham Chorale Children’s Chorus as well.

The Chatham Chorale has traditionally been the only auditioned choir on the Cape. For over 40 years, they have performed great choral works to a cappella compositions. The Chorale is indeed age-diverse, from several high school students to folks in their 90s.

As rigorous as the musical standards are, a family atmosphere presides. “While I always hope rehearsals are fun, my style is to teach warm-ups, vocal techniques and working on intonation, by blending vowels and working on breathing. I’ve been going further by introducing solfege,” Marchio said.

The Chorale’s community atmosphere culminates in an annual banquet. Choir members who have sung 30 programs are given an award. “It’s also a roast of the director,” he says, smiling. There are skits and solos and last year, a comical reenactment of a rehearsal. “I tend to be a perfectionist. They know I can’t run through a piece without stopping. They made fun of the numbers for the solfege,” he laughs, adding, “But it’s amazing how using numbers helps.”

I asked the accessible maestro about favorite composers. “I have a special place in my heart for Benjamin Britten. His music is powerful, emotional and moving. That said, I love doing all of it. The big group can do Brahms and Beethoven, and in the same week, with the Chamber Singers I can do Randall Thompson’s Peaceable Kingdom, then the patriotic program. We cover all the genres.”

“A great conductor is less about telling the musicians how to perform, but to bring out the best music of the ensemble and pull it together for the common good.” – Joe Marchio

Joe always wanted to be a conductor. Growing up in West Virginia, young Joe went to Charleston Light Opera Guild rehearsals with his dad, an operatic tenor. “I got to see him do Daddy Warbucks in Annie, as well as the tenor soloist for The Messiah,” he says. He accompanied his dad to church choir, sitting through countless rehearsals. His eyes were always tuned toward the conductor. “I was amazed at how this one individual could ‘pull it all together’. The conductor had such a vast wealth of knowledge – music theory, history, languages; he was able to bring it all together and make music for a common cause.”

“A great conductor is less about telling the musicians how to perform, but to bring out the best music of the ensemble and pull it together for the common good. Working with instrumentalists, you’re at the mercy of their skill level. With singers, you can talk about breathing, vowels, and inspire them to be their best. That’s what is so cool about working with choirs.”

·  Thursday, June 28, 2012, 5pm – Christ Chapel, 1200 Stage Rd, Centerville
·  Friday, June 29, 2012, 6pm – Dennis Village Green Gazebo, Route 6A, Dennis
·  Monday, July 2, 2012, 7pm – Eastham Windmill, Route 6, Eastham

Joe’s mom was influential as well. At age five, Joe took Suzuki violin for six months. He did not like it. His parents asked Joe his next choice. “I want to play the pipe organ,” he said. When Mom told him his feet wouldn’t reach the pedals, Joe took up piano instead. In ninth grade, he started organ, while continuing piano and harpsichord. He worked part-time for an organ builder in high school, played basketball, and was good at tennis, becoming an instructor. Yet music remained his greatest passion.

“I was the only 12-year-old kid riding my bike, listening to Bach preludes and fugues on my Walkman,” he says, reminiscing, “I remember Toccata & Fugue by Bach was on that tape.”

Marchio graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio, where he met his wife, Sarah, who was hired to teach bagpiping. Joe graduated with a Masters in Divinity from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and a Masters of Choral Conducting from Boston Conservatory.

The Chorale’s upcoming season includes a program in November, “Beethoven Celebration,” (an all-Beethoven concert) and a St. Patrick’s Day concert titled “Celtic Invasion.” For more concert information, visit www.chathamchorale.org.

Cheryl Kain has been a contract writer for Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health since 2006. She interviewed yoga legend Rod Stryker, and was featured on Good Morning America for how yoga changed her health and her life. She has written for The Cape Cod Times, The Cape Codder, Harwich Oracle, Cape Cod Travel Guide, and been entertainment editor for webzines EdgePtown, EdgeBoston, EdgeLosAngeles and EdgeNewYork. She recently finished her second book, a memoir. Visit www.cherylkainwrites.com.