Choral society brings ‘American-Made’ music to spring concert


After years of living in places like Morocco and Texas, Joelle Wallach returned to the Bronx seven months ago looking for a way to reconnect with her roots. 

And now she’s found one of those places — The Riverdale Choral Society.

Wallach is not only a composer, she is one of the contemporary artists who will be featured in the choral society’s spring concert “American-Made From Brooklyn to Riverdale.” It’s a celebration of American composers from familiar names like Cole Porter and George Gershwin, to Brooklyn composer Aaron Copland. 

The concert is slated for May 6 at Christ Church Riverdale, 5030 Henry Hudson Parkway. 

Two of Wallach’s pieces will be performed at the concert: “Psalm 23,” inspired by the Hebrew text, and “Clothes of Heaven,” born from a William Butler Yeats poem.

Since her return to the Bronx, Wallach has instantly made it her home again. She recently won the Bronx Council on the Arts’ Bronx Recognizes Its Own Award — also known as a BRIO — which is a grant given to a local artist to create work in their respective medium, and bring that knowledge to those around her.

“It feels wonderful, it feels like becoming part of the community,” Wallach said. 

And the Riverdale Choral Society is no stranger to bringing forth that feeling. For Naomi Marcus, it’s been there for nearly a decade.

When Marcus initially joined the choral society, her motivation was simple — she just wanted a place to sing. Since then, Marcus has done just that. Year after year, she sings choral music along with almost 60 other men and women, all of whom are just as passionate about bringing classical music to others.

“It feels good to be making something beautiful,” Marcus said, “particularly with other people.” 

Over the years, being part of the group inspired Marcus to take vocal lessons and constantly develop her voice.

“I wouldn’t have bothered to do that if I hadn’t been singing regularly in the chorus and wanting to improve my technique,” she said. “And of course, the more you sing, the more you learn about music.”

Marcus also hopes those who attend the upcoming spring concert will enjoy having local classical music at their doorstep — instead of being forced to travel to Manhattan to find it. 

And for those who might want to become more exposed to classical music, Wallach said the best way to do is to just do it yourself.

“I think firsthand involvement is the most important thing in making music,” she said. “I think everybody has a capacity to make music, and we need to give more and more people (an) opportunity to make music, especially with their neighbors.”