Max Hobart, music director and conductor for the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra for the past 27 years, is stepping down following the 2020-2021 season. It remains to be seen when that season will be able to start under the state’s reopening plan, but it won’t be until at least next year.
Hobart’s bio on the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra website describes him as “a highly respected position as a performer, conductor and teacher” who previously spent 27 years with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He served as assistant concertmaster of the BSO under Erich Leinsdorf, William Steinberg and Seiji Ozawa and performed as featured soloist with the Pops under Arthur Fiedler and John Williams. Hobart has performed in the United States at Tanglewood and Carnegie Hall, and he has played in South America, Canada, Europe and beyond. He’s taught at Boston University, Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory and the Tanglewood Music Center.
Expect a tribute to the maestro to be slated.
Orchestra, community and board members are joining to find a new music director for the non-profit institution.
Members of the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra haven’t been able to perform their usual concerts since February, but individual members recently performed live on a smaller scale at the Elizabeth Seton Residence skilled nursing and rehab facility in Wellesley.
Visiting the campus has been off-limits since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, but orchestra members Emil Altschuler (violin) and Seth MacLeod (cello) were able to perform outside at the campus, with isolated residents at Elizabeth Seton Residence and the adjoining Marillac Residence rest home listening in through open windows. Staff, which has been under pressure providing healthcare services, enjoyed the music, too.
The effort was fitting in that the orchestra has used space on the campus over the years for practice sessions.
Members of the Wellesley High School a cappella group “Inchordination” missed out on performing at the annual spring Acastock concert and other events due to the coronavirus crisis, but they’ve put their voices and other skills together on a new video produced to help out the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life online event this weekend.
WHS senior Will Cohen-Pratt orchestrated the audio mix for this rendition of “Sucker” by the Jonas Brothers, as arranged by WHS Choral Accompanist Chad Weirick and edited by parent Steve Mendes (Melchor Becker handled beatboxing).
Cohen-Pratt wrote that “We chose ‘Sucker’ for our video because we thought the catchy hook and up-beat energy of the tune would lend itself well to a Zoom grid. We hope to lighten a few people’s day to make up for the postponed or cancelled performances this season.”
Wellesley now is reporting 199 COVID-19 cases, with 2 new ones added over the weekend.
The Health Department has also revealed results of antibody tests: 24 people in Wellesley have received positive COVID-19
antibody test to date. “Some of these cases are individuals who may have been ill a few weeks ago, were never tested and have recovered, or are cases where individuals are asymptomatic. Antibody testing is a blood test that looks for evidence of past infection. Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to an invading bacteria or virus. The blood test for COVID-19 looks for antibodies specific to this coronavirus. While we are seeing more of these tests being done, because this virus is new and there is still much that is unknown, this information can’t be used to determine if a person is immune to COVID-19 or able to return to work.”
Morses Pond beach off-limits
As we first reported over the weekend, it looked as if Morses Pond beach would be temporarily closed, while the gate at Turner Road would be opened to allow people easier trails access (and allow cops to more easily monitor beach miscreants). The Board of Selectmen made this official, specifying that the gate will be open 7am-6pm beginning on Wednesday, May 13.
Singing the “Quarantine Hesitation Blues”
The Wellesley Rocks! website is a gift that keeps on giving during the coronavirus crisis.
As we’ve documented in the past, local musicians are uploaded videos of themselves playing songs to help us all get through this mess. We recently highlighted Bob Bua’s “Wake Me Up When CORONAVIRUS ends.”
And now we bring you Rod Wright’s “Quarantine Hesitation Blues.” Just hope his wife doesn’t listen too closely to the lyrics…
Masks for seniors
The Wellesley Fire Department has purchased 2,000 KN95 masks via a new grant and is making them available to Wellesley residents 65 years and older and others who are medically vulnerable.
Fire fighters will come directly to residents’ homes to ensure the masks are properly fitted for civilian use.
To request a mask, residents should call the Fire Department non-emergency line at 781-235-1300. Please provide your name, address, and daytime phone number.
Health Department and Council on Aging staff are helping identify residents who should receive masks.
In a Wellesley basement recently, 17 musicians and eight dancers came together in a show of amazing talent as they performed an uplifting version of The Five Stairsteps’ classic 1970 soul song ‘Ooh Child (Things are Gonna Get Easier)’. And they did it all while social distancing.
Here’s how the artists managed the feat: vocalists, instrumentalists, and dancers performed on location in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Italy, where they recorded their tracks individually on both audio and video. They then sent their contributions to Wellesley resident Chris Georgenes, whose day job is Head of Interactive Design at Patient Discovery where he uses technology to help patients with rare diseases. Once Chris had all 32 tracks of audio and 30 tracks of video in hand, he mixed and edited the artists’ work into a 5-minute music and dance video.
The project was the combined brainchild of Chris and his wife, Becky Georgenes. Becky, a college coach, came up with the idea of the song and reached out to a number of the performers. “I worked with most of the students on their college applications,” she says. “I helped with the layout, watching over Chris’ shoulder, giving my input. Yes, it was a ton of work, but also a lot of fun, and super-inspirational to be a part of. Chris really has a nice combination of musical, artistic, and technical abilities.”
The end result is a display of team-work and talent, the perfect spirits-boost for right now. Many of the contributors are high school and college students who weren’t planning on spending spring-time confined their homes.
With ‘Ooh, Child,’ those students have taken an unexpected life twist and, and Chris says, “come together remotely from their homes for a moment of levity and hope.”
Enjoy the video. And stay with it until the end. You don’t want to miss CC, the sassy diva.
Let’s roll the credits:
The COVID-19 pandemic that has forced the majority of us to stay home most of the time has given Wellesley songwriters and musicians extra time and inspiration, as we wrote recently in “Wellesley Rocks!…online for now.” Among the new fruits of this situation is a fresh take by Wellesley resident Bob Bua (a.k.a., RipCHORD) on Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
The new twist: “Wake Me Up When CORONAVIRUS Ends.”
While Bua has borrowed the music for this song from Green Day, he enjoys writing his own music and lyrics (fun fact: Mr. & Mrs. Swellesley are survivors of the 1994 Green Day riot in Boston). Bua started teaching himself guitar just 6 years ago. “I have never had a lesson–I wanted to find my own sound,” he says.
Six months after picking up a guitar, Bua played live in a bar in Brookline. “I invited lots of friends who I knew would support me and give me the courage to play guitar and sing in front of people. It was tough, but I survived the night! Since then I play a few times a year at bars with a my ‘band’–some great guys I have met along life’s path.”
The subject of the coronavirus and COVID-19 is poignant for Bua, who spent more than 20 years in the eldercare marketplace, having been a licensed nursing home administrator and then founder of a company called CareScout that helped people find quality eldercare across the country. “I believe that today’s COVID-19 related crisis has posed the greatest challenge for senior care facilities than ever before. On a positive note, I am glad that the public is getting a close look at just how caring and wonderful most senior care workers truly are. It takes a special person to care for others. As for the future, I believe the trend towards shifting eldercare from facilities to the home setting will continue to accelerate.”
Proving his versatility, Bua runs Downeast Ice Cream Factory shops in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, which he hopes to open as soon as it’s safe to do so. “As for tourism in Maine, once we grow accustomed to proper distancing and enhanced safety protocols for food establishments, the Maine summer tourist season will be strong. Instead of flying on a plane to Italy or elsewhere this June and July, Boston-area tourists may prefer a car ride to beautiful Maine. Once there, no one can resist homemade ice cream!”
Meanwhile, can you resist Bua’s latest song? No way.