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Musicale series brings performers into local living rooms

March 26, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A fundraiser held Sunday in Waynesboro took performers Kay Yaukey and Gerald Kowallis off the stage, but they didn't leave the music behind.

The pair of former Waynesboro Area Senior High School teachers took beloved Broadway and off-Broadway songs like "The Impossible Dream" and "Nobody's Perfect" to the Forest Hills home of Craig and Judy Welterlen.

The afternoon performance served as the third in a five-part musicale series benefiting the Cumberland Valley School of Music.

"I continue to marvel at the quality of performers we have in this area," CVSM Executive Director Andrew Sussman said.

Students' tuition at CVSM covers 68 percent of operations, and scholarships are awarded when needed, so fundraisers like the musicales are an important part of the school's livelihood, Sussman said.

Held locally for 15 years, the musicales are rooted in the European tradition of gathering at the end of a day to perform and appreciate music.

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In an age of portable devices, MP3s and radios, "just hearing live music is different. People have to make an effort," Sussman said.

He described in-home musicales as "the best way to hear it."

"You can talk to the performers before and after," Sussman said.

The Welterlens enjoyed a home concert series in Falls Church, Va., and attended one for CVSM when the couple first moved to Waynesboro, Craig Welterlen said. They already hosted a fall musicale, he said.

"It's a great way to experience music," Craig Welterlen said.

A portion of the audience - which typically ranges from 50 to 100 people - has purchased tickets for the entire series, and many at Sunday's performance were existing fans of Yaukey and Kowallis.

"I've known Gerry and Kay for at least 30, maybe 35, years," said Tom McFarland, who taught with the pair at Waynesboro Area Senior High School.

McFarland, who performed in past musicales, described a sense of being a family, rather than an audience.

"I like the closeness of the entertainment," he said. "You're right there."

Ellen Palmer has attended more than 30 CVSM musicales and hosted a Caribbean-themed one around the pool of her Chambersburg, Pa., home. One of her all-time favorites was a Christmas musicale held in the Greencastle, Pa., home of Hank and Jan Guarriello, where the next one is scheduled for May 5.

Attending a musicale for the first time, friends Shirley Zeigler and Shirley Rotz said they would definitely go to another.

"It was a very comfortable afternoon," said Zeigler, of Waynesboro.

"It's been very relaxing," said Rotz, of Chambersburg.

The highlight of the performance for both was Kowallis' rendition of "If I Were a Rich Man" from Jerry Bock's "Fiddler on the Roof."

Kowallis and Yaukey began discussing the performance before last Christmas and selected songs themed on love and marriage.

"Some of these are pieces we've done before," Kowallis said.

The music was intertwined with props and acting based on the shows from present-day theater and yesteryear.

"We're using dialogue from the actual plays," Kowallis said.

Kowallis and Yaukey have appeared together in shows like "The Music Man," "Carousel" and "Oklahoma" at various regional venues. They were accompanied Sunday by pianist Jeffrey Noll, a former student of both.

"I love working with Gerry," Yaukey said.

The coming musicale at the Guarriellos' also will feature selections from musical theater, while the final one of the season will be chamber music with an oboe, flute and clarinet.

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