Just as Christ Church Rector Peter Casparian concluded his greetings, the lights dimmed and women of all ages dressed in long black dresses appeared from the back of the church with red roses attached to their music binders.
Singing Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria a cappella, they began their procession down the church’s center aisle, repeating the song twice more, once in the center and again at the front, where they were joined by a woman adorned in a sequined white top and black skirt. She raised her baton, and, like magic, music filled the room.
Such was the ambiance of the ninth annual performance of the Belle Voci Women’s Choir: Women and Girls United in Song for Cancer Prevention and Cure at Christ Church in Oyster Bay on Sunday, August 5, a benefit event with all proceeds donated to the American Cancer Society.
This year, the performance was held in memory of Joan Davis, who had sung just last year with her daughter Tynan, an opera singer, in the choir. On July 12, Ms. Davis, a choral expert who was also known as the Yellow Rose of Texas, lost her long struggle with cancer.
“The central theme of today’s performance is to remember those who have passed, celebrate those who have survived, and support those fighting against cancer,” Rev. Casparian reminded the audience midway through the program, when a ceremony was held to do just that.
He read the names of all those people; and as he read off the survivor’s names, each choir member –having left the stage and lined up in the outside aisles after their last song – returned to the stage via the center aisle. They placed their red rose into a vase in the center of the church.
Dr. Jennifer Scott Miceli, founder and director of Belle Voci, was the last to walk down the aisle; she placed a yellow rose in the vase.