Westborough Community Chorus welcomes new accompanist

Deb Hadges, accompanist of the Westborough Community Chorus 

Westborough – Fall 2016, Deb Hadges began as the new accompanist of the Westborough Community Chorus (WCC), 

“I sat in with the chorus and Jim Duncan, who is absolutely amazing,” Hadges said. “I was thinking to myself that I’d never be able to fill his shoes. Then I came back in September and started as accompanist. Everybody was so nice and welcoming.”

The first to welcome her was the WCC director. “I knew that Jim would be very difficult to replace, but we were so fortunate to get Deb, an equally brilliant pianist,” Temple said.

Hadges learned to play piano at age 7 – although it wasn’t initially her instrument of choice.

“Actually, I wanted to study accordion,” she shared. “My parents had an accordion teacher and a piano teacher come to our house and speak with me. Luckily, my parents talked me out of accordion and I learned piano. They probably thought piano would be more versatile.”

Hadges holds an associate degree in music from Dean College. A classically trained pianist, she has been teaching private piano lessons for over 20 years at her home studio in Bellingham. For over 10 years, she has been the accompanist at Bellingham’s middle and high schools.

With fewer piano students during the summer break from school, Hadges checked Craigslist last May for potential work in her field and found the accompanist position with WCC beginning last fall. She began by rehearsing WCC’s “Holiday Joy,” which was presented last December.

Her 17-minute commute to rehearsals in Westborough from Bellingham doesn’t faze her. And she’s hardly the only out-of-towner in the chorus. The president of the WCC is Bill Harrington of Southborough. “We have more than 100 members,” Harrington said. “About 60 percent of the chorus members are from outside of Westborough.

Some of the other towns represented are Southborough, Northborough, Marlborough, Shrewsbury, Hopkinton, Grafton, Upton, and from as far away as Worcester and Westwood.”

Hadges noted that a chorus member’s hometown is rarely discussed after introductions.

“I’m not from Westborough, but once I walk into a rehearsal, I feel like I’m part of the whole family,” she said. “They’re such a fun group of people and Debbie Temple has a great sense of humor. Everybody is always laughing.”


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Westborough Community Chorus director continues her 15th season

By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer

Westborough – As the director of the Westborough Community Chorus (WCC), Debbie Temple followed in the footsteps of her longtime mentor, Faith Newark.

“Faith was my choir director at the Congregational Church [of Westborough] from when I was in the first grade all the way through high school,” she said.

Temple majored in music education for three years at Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Va., and ultimately graduated with a business degree. In the late-1980s to early-‘90s, she worked in the Westborough school district as a piano accompanist for grades one through 12.

Debbie Temple, director of the Westborough Community Chorus

“It was the school system that I grew up in, so it was being in a familiar place,” she said. “I was working with teachers who I knew and it was great making music with the kids.”

In 2001, she became the accompanist for the WCC, which was founded in 1971 with Newark as director. When Newark lost her battle with cancer in 2002, Lukey was asked and accepted to direct the WCC at the funeral service.

“We were all so struck by her passing,” Temple shared. “The funeral was a beautiful and moving tribute to Faith. It was an honor to be asked to direct the chorus there.”

As director since 2002, Temple has continued the already established schedule. Each season, they produce two shows: a holiday concert and a spring presentation of various themes. The WCC currently consists of about 90 members from age 22 to 86 from several communities.

“We have people who have been in the chorus well over 25 or 30 years,” Temple noted.

A longtime participant was Jim Duncan, who recently retired as the WCC accompanist.

“Jim and I worked together for 11 years and he’s a stellar pianist,” Temple said. “He’s still willing to sit in if I need him.”

Duncan accompanied the WCC’s most recent spring show, “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

“Last spring’s show was all Disney music,” Temple explained. “We opened the show with all of the chorus members marching on the stage and singing, wearing mouse ears and white T-shirts with their names on them, like the old ‘Mickey Mouse Club.’”

They reprised the Disney tunes at the Westborough Cultural Council’s fifth annual Arts in Common in the fall. Temple is pleased to have an annual arts festival in her hometown.

“Arts in Common is a brilliant idea,” she said. “There are so many people in Westborough who are involved with the arts. You can go to one place and see so many different forms of artisans – crafts, dancing, singing and performing.”

Deb Hadges started as the WCC accompanist with the recent concert, “Holiday Joy,” which was presented Dec. 6, 7 and 8.

“I knew that Jim would be very difficult to replace, but we were so fortunate to get Deb, an equally brilliant pianist,” Temple said.

While the themes of the spring shows have varied greatly, the holiday concert tends to focus on familiar seasonal songs.

“I try to change it up a bit each year,” Temple said. “Some years we go traditionally toward carols. This year, I went more toward pop music like ‘Grown-Up Christmas’ and ‘Believe’ from ‘The Polar Express.’”

The WCC returns to weekly rehearsals Monday, Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m., at the Westborough Senior Center. New members are welcomed and there’s no audition.

When not volunteering as the WCC director, Temple manages Framingham Dental Group.

“I make a living doing something I like and then have fun doing something I like,” she said. “I think it’s the best of both worlds.”

For more information about the WCC, visit westborochorus.co

© Jack Calkins 2017