This lovely editorial was published in today’s edition of The Hartford Courant, every word of it true and right:
CONCORA Maestro Coffey Taking Final Bow: Choir founder stepping down after 40 years
Editoral, The Hartford Courant
4:49 p.m. EDT, March 26, 2014
Forty years ago, the leaders of the South Congregational First Baptist Church in New Britain were looking for new ways to reach out to the community. The bright young minister of music had an idea -- how about a professional concert choir? He offered to lead it.
So was born the South Church Choral Society. But, some people kept confusing it with the church's worship choir, so a decade later the name was changed to Connecticut Choral Artists, or CONCORA. It has gone on to become one of the premier professional choirs in the Northeast.
On Sunday, that young minister, Rick Coffey, will conduct his final concert before stepping down as conductor and artistic director of CONCORA, and it promises to be memorable. Each year CONCORA performs a Johann Sebastian Bach concert with the Hartford Symphony. Sunday's selection is the Mass in B Minor, Bach's last major choral masterpiece.
It will be a fitting conclusion to a remarkable run, a vision realized. CONCORA is not only a performance ensemble but a major arts resource for the region as well. Its school program, CONCORA-to-Go, and its summer festival have introduced thousands of area youngsters to the beauty of choral music. The choir has been a place for many promising young singers to start professional careers.
In the four decades that Mr. Coffey has nurtured CONCORA, a number of other arts organizations in the region have brought the curtain down. Mr. Coffey attributes CONCORA's staying power to good boards of directors and "not being lavish," to being imaginative without being expensive. There's a lesson there.
The good news is that Mr. Coffey will remain as minister of music at South Church, and as music director of the Hartford Chorale. Such is the reputation of CONCORA that the search for a new director drew 55 applicants, which have been winnowed to three finalists, winner to be chosen next year.