(From my article in the New York Times December 8, 2005)
MUSIC fans may notice certain faces popping up regularly in concerts this holiday season, whether the group on stage is the Riverdale Choral Society, the Sound Shore Chorale or a church choir. Known as “ringers” but preferring the terms “added voices” or “fill-ins,” they are accomplished volunteers who can sing choral works like Bach’s “Magnificat” or Vivaldi’s “Gloria” at virtually a moment’s notice, making them a godsend to local choral directors wishing to swell their ranks.
These singers, like Woody Allen’s fictional character Zelig, seem to be ever present. Wearing tuxedos, standing shoulder to shoulder with regular chorus members, singers like Donald Nawi of Scarsdale, Joseph Bookmyer of Yonkers and Dorothy Young of Armonk strive not to give away the fact that besides a dress rehearsal or two, they have not slogged away week after week at a hectic run of sixteenth notes like the other singers in the chorus. They have already performed works like Handel’s “Messiah,” Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War” and Verdi’s Requiem enough times to have mastered the works.