Local woman brings 'Joy' to Olympic opening

February 08, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Local woman brings 'Joy' to Olympic opening

As performers from around the world kicked off the Winter Olympics on Friday, John C. "Jack" Burrey took a special interest.

In between commercials and interviews with athletes, Burrey watched as choruses on five continents performed Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." The Fountain Head resident's daughter, Felicia, manages one of those outfits, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

"She had 200 singers there," said Burrey, a local architect.

The performance was a technological feat as well as a musical masterpiece. Choruses performed in unison from New York, Sydney, Beijing, Berlin and Cape Town, South Africa. The song, the final movement of Beethoven's ninth symphony, was beamed by satellite into Nagano, where a stadium full of people sang along.


Such a worldwide performance would have been impossible a short time ago because of a slight time delay. But a time lag machine corrected the problem. The result was to "literally bring the world together via song and technology," said Felicia Burrey by phone from her Boston residence.

The Tanglewood Chorus performed from the General Assembly of the United Nations. As the full-time manager for the all-volunteer group, Burrey said she had to make reservations, review seating arrangements and tend to the other logistical details of such an event.

Burrey, 34, said the chorus has been preparing for almost a year.

"It's quite an honor - just to be chosen," she said. "It's amazing just standing in the General Assembly hall."

Burrey, a 1981 graduate of St. Maria Goretti High School, joined the Tanglewood Festival Chorus 2 1/2 years ago. She has an extensive background in music and arts, having majored in theater at Boston College.

Burrey also studied classical piano for 12 years as a girl.

"We're always excited about her activities," said Jack Burrey, who taped the performance when it was re-played on Sunday. "She gets to hobnob with a lot of famous people."

Burrey said his daughter was always a take-charge person growing up.

"She's kind of an organizer," he said.

Working behind the scenes, Felicia Burrey said she does not get to perform much anymore. Occasionally, she fills in during holiday concert performances when the chorus is short, but most of her work is organizing.

Still, Burrey said she does not mind.

"It's a great feeling, also, to help these people who have all this talent," she said.

And does she get a chance to come back home to Washington County in between performances?

"Not nearly enough from a parent's standpoint," Jack Burrey said.

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