The Dalton School


Under the direction of David Shuler

Chorus Profiles

Name: Mary
Member since 1992, Alto. Owner of Pan-American Phoenix, lives on the Upper East Side.

Q: Mary, Do you have a particular memory of Harold Aks, the first director of the chorus?
A: Well, he was my music teacher at Dalton since I was in the 4th Grade, so I have many memories of him. Harold was very enthusiastic but he was very strict yet very playful. He always said you say “Glah-ria”—never “Glow-ria”—that was the name of my girlfriend from Brooklyn.” That made us laugh. He was a wonderful man; he made people love what they were doing.

Q: Your shop, sells silver jewelry and handcrafts from all over Mexico. How often do you travel?
A: Yes, you know my mother started the shop. So I go to Mexico once or twice a year and I travel in many different parts of the country to find merchandise.

Q: What states in Mexico do you find have the most active craft traditions today?
A: There are many states in Mexico where there are still very active craft traditions. Starting in the south: Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Puebla, Michoacan, the state of Mexico, Morelia, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Nayarit and Yucatan. Each region has different specialties that are distinctive and unique. The crafts include many materials: pottery, silver, tin, copper, brass, wool and cotton clothing and textiles, glass, wood, fiber and leather.

Q: What is your favorite art gallery in New York City?
A: I would have to say my brother’s, but unfortunately that has now closed.

Name: Jonathan
Member since 2005, Tenor. Lives in Soho.

Q: Jonathan, What brought you into the chorus?
A: Well, I was looking for a group activity. I had not been singing for a very long time. I quit smoking about the same time and was looking for something healthy to get into. I got a letter from someone who sang in the Dalton Chorale who was also connected to my college, and she told me that there were a few other alumni already in the choir. We had also sung the Lord Nelson Mass when I was in college, and since the chorus was singing it that spring, joining was not so intimidating.

Q: What undiscovered treasures in Soho can you tell us about?
A: Well, there’s a macrobiotic resturant, Souen which I think is terrific. And I am a film lover and Houston street is an artery of art house film houses—Film Forum, IFT, Angelica, the Sunshine. My partner and I have been members at Film Forum for years so we go all the time.

Q: I know your most recent job was in high end stationery. Which means…
A: Yes, that I am an expert in etiquette and engraved stationery! So if anyone has any pressing questions about this (like the wording on a wedding invitation for a complex family, or the best typeface to use) I’d be happy to advise.

Name: Hana
Member since 2010, Soprano. Works in museum exhibit design; lives in Brooklyn.

Q: What was your musical background before joining the chorus?
A: I sang in a synagogue choir as a child and then nothing else formal but I always loved to sing.

Q: What is your favorite museum in the city?
A: The Brooklyn Museum of Art is one of my favorites because has a really diverse collection of objects and it's usually very quiet. The curators juxtapose objects to bring out really interesting relationships between objects that you wouldn't necessarily notice on your own. The museum is also very tech-savvy and uses a lot of new media. The museum blog has behind-the-scene insights, which make the museum process more transparent and to someone like me, more amazing!

Q: Can we see any of your design work in the city?
A: Unfortunately no, but if anyone wants to travel to a stunning place, there will be a great new museum, the Natural History Museum of Utah, opening in Salt Lake City in November 2011. It is a beautiful new building with all new exhibits, which hopefully will encourage visitors to think about themselves as part of ‘natural history’.

Q: What's your favorite city park?
A: That would have to be Prospect Park. Living two blocks away, it's like an extension of my apartment. I like to go there for picnics and read the paper and watch other people play Frisbee.

Name: Elinor
Member since 2010, alto. Is a retired doctor; has recently moved to the Upper West Side.

Q: Was the Dalton Chorale your first chorus?
A: No, I started seriously singing choral music in college where I had the amazing opportunity to sing, not only with college orchestras, but also in concerts with the Boston Symphony. Harold Aks started the Westchester Chorale in 1965 at Sarah Lawrence and I sang with him over 20 years. When I moved to NYC this year I looked for a chorus to join. Surfing the web I was captured by the historical connection of the Dalton Chorale to Harold Aks so that seemed like a perfect match for me.

Q: How has that worked out?
A: It has been great. The music is challenging (new to me), the members friendly and welcoming and the tone of rehearsals make it really fun. For me, rehearsals are the most important part of the experience. It's fine to have a great concert (as we did in May) but for me, that is secondary.

Q: Can you tell me about your medical career?
A: Life changed for women by the 1970's, so I was able to start medical school at 43 and do what I had really wanted. I became an internist, had a busy office practice and worked at White Plains Hospital with my patients. I loved it all. I am totally grateful to Albert Einstein College of Medicine and to my family for making it all possible.

Name: Farzi
Members since 2003, Soprano. Ethnomusicologist, teaching music; lives in Brooklyn.
Q: Farzi, Are you involved in other musical organizations in NYC?
A: Yes, I have recently joined the chorus of the New York Arabic Orchestra.

Q: You are turning your PHD into a book--what will that be about?
A: It’s about music and politics in Iran and among Iran’s migrant population especially in California. It’s music as a form of protest-- Iranian music coming out of California expresses sentiments which can’t be expressed publicly in Iran. But of course there is a lot more than that.

Q: Tell us about your favorite Brooklyn bakery.
A. That would have to be Lady Bird Bakery in Park Slope. They made my wedding cake, and they make delicious cupcakes with buttercream frosting. I’ll also put in a pitch for my favorite grocery – it’s in Murray Hill in Manhattan. It’s called Kalustiyan’s. It was Armenian –and has a great Armenian deli on the 2nd floor, but it has also become more Middle-Eastern and has lots of great spices and dried herbs for Persian and other Middle-Eastern food.

Names: Casey and Toby
Members since 2007, Alto and Bass. Casey teaches Environmental Studies to undergraduates at NYU; Toby teaches ethnomusicology (the anthropology of world music) at Sarah Lawrence College. They live in Harlem, on Seventh Avenue, just north of Central Park.

Q: You seem to be pretty involved with music. Can you tell us about your band?
A: Casey: Toby and I play old country and some bluegrass in our band Grits and Harmony. I sing and play guitar. Toby plays banjo, mandolin, guitar, and bass. We have had different friends join us for gigs over the years. We used to play once a week, then once a month, but now that I started my PhD and Toby is finishing writing his, we have been on hiatus for the past year. We do still play and sing together now and then, but have only performed out once this year. Toby runs several music ensembles, but for me, Dalton Chorale has been my main musical outlet this past year.

Q: What music have you especially enjoyed singing with the chorus?
A: Casey: The semester we joined, we san the Morton Lauridson pieces. I especially have enjoyed the 20th century music.
Toby: I agree that the 20th century pieces are my clear favorites: it’s nice to sing music that was intended for people who are still alive!

Q: Has the Dalton Chorale changed the way you sing?
Dalton Chorale has helped me to be a better singer. Although, country music singing style is much different, I can feel and hear that I am much better than I was a few years ago. I think I breathe differently, have extended my range, have better tone, get the pitches more accurately; I can also hear the subtleties and nuances of other singers' styles better and try to emulate them as I find my own voice.
Being a student of music makes me a more sympathetic and understanding science teacher because I feel like I am stretching my brain in a less-comfortable direction, which I require of my non-major students. The actual playing of the guitar and singing involves a type of learning that is very different from mathematical and logical approach that I am more familiar with. I am completely fascinated by "muscle memory" needed and the physicality of being musical.
Toby: I enjoy teaching music, but performing with the Dalton Chorale allows me to be smaller cog in quite a different machine. And it's always nice to practice sight- reading.

Q: How do you get around the city?
A: Casey: When possible, we bike. I don't bike to NYU because there are some dangerous stretches on the Avenues and it takes too long to cross the Village if I bike down Riverside Park. But I do bike to do my research at Hunter College at 69th and Park whenever I can. It is a perfect commute through Central Park. Toby bikes to Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville whenever he can. I am very happy about all the new bike lanes and do bike more because of them. I also don't mind that the police are cracking down on bikers for not obeying traffic laws when they are polite and apply the same level of reasonable leniency that they allow for automobile drivers.
Toby: I enjoy my bike commute from Manhattan to Yonkers: it's shorter than you think!

A few words about our director and accompanist!

About David:
  • We are really lucky to have someone who takes his job directing us just as seriously as his “real” job.
  • I appreciate that he makes the idea of the try-out not so intimidating, but more about finding out where you should be singing in the chorus.
  • He’s very efficient when we practice—he finds ways to get us through what we need the most work on.
  • He’s kind. He doesn’t embarrass people.
  • For people like me who don’t have a background in this music, I find it really helpful that both he and Bernadette fill us in a little bit on stuff like historical context, history, and different versions of the music—they really make it more meaningful.
  • He is demanding. He really wants us to not just learn the music, but also to be able to “tune“ it.
  • I like that he picks big pieces of serious music, not just songs.
  • He is really good at our program selections—they are coherent and interesting, and are not music that everyone has sung before.

About Bernadette:
  • She and David are a great team. They both have their own “flavor.”
  • Her sense of humor is always appreciated. She is really very funny. When she does the warm-ups, they are always fun and creative.
  • It seems like she can play anything.
  • It’s great that we have two really competent people so that we can split up and work on different parts, and everybody improves.