Member of the Month: Lorraine Heffernan, Alto

Lorraine Heffernan

In 1998, after waiting patiently until Ars Musica returned from its tour of Fance, alto Lorraine Heffernan finally got the call from Frieda Holober that she had been hoping for: “He (Italo Marchini) will hear you now!” Lorraine had been intrigued by the newspaper account of the chorus’s inspiring performance of Haydn’s The Creation, when the lights went out during a storm but the performance continued with the help of floodlights from the fire department and flashlights. Already a member of the all-women’s Ridgewood Choral and encouraged by its Music Director Marge Vandervoort, Lorraine was eager to join the larger 4-part group. Involved with choral singing since grammar school, although not having had academic musical training, she took some voice lessons with Theresa Minnocci, from whom she learned to keep her mouth wide open when singing, “the same way that Kelly [Crandell] now reminds the chorus to do.”

Lorraine received her professional degree in Family Counseling and worked in Paterson, NJ. To earn her undergraduate degree, she traveled from Jersey City with her friends to attend Notre Dame College of Staten Island, a small, commuting women’s college. The school now continues as part of St. John’s University. Her Master’s degree, which she earned after her four children were well grown and graduated from college, is from Montclair University (then Montclair State College). Now daughters Jenna, Lorraine, and Elizabeth have families of their own and have given Lorraine and Jimmy six grandchildren! Son Jim is a musician in his own right. Lorraine and Jimmy have been married for 50 years: “He is a continuing source of encouragement and support for me.”

Lorraine regards being interviewed as the Member of the Month as both an honor and a helpful introduction of herself to the newer members of Ars Musica. “The best positive experience I’ve had is the combination of camaraderie and [singing] the music that I had not been able to perform with other groups, which is why I joined Ars Musica‒to sing those wonderful pieces in the Masterworks Concerts.” Having enjoyed her varied experiences as both a singer and as a member of the Board of Directors, on which she served for many years, and as President for three years, she feels she has paid her dues. She credits “learning an awful lot about running the board and running an administration to Linda Glasgal,” who has encouraged her and has become a dear friend. Her comments on this season: “I do enjoy the new music that we are working on‒the Stravinsky and Martha Sullivan’s new piece.”

A fixture on the set-up crew for special events, Lorraine fondly recalled “the ladies who have been doing that even before I was involved: Madeleine (Truninger), May (Vanden Broeck), Susan (Keller), and Ruth (Sherrer)-setting up tables, cleaning up afterwards.” She has selected table and room decorations for various events and fundraisers with Alexandra Cramer, particularly for Wine Tasting and Songs Under Starlight fundraisers, and welcomes the newer members, such as Daniella Ashbahian who have begun to participate. “We’re delighted to enjoy Daniella’s creativity. And then, of course, we cannot forget the wonderful cooking of Dejah Olsen and her husband, Greg!” Currently Lorraine is the Membership Chair, trying to keep track of members “as the number of singers flows and ebbs.”

“Looking back on it, I’ve been a part of almost all the fundraising events.” Lorraine ran the Wine-Tasting Dinner one year and tells of an embarrassing incident: “I was in the kitchen preparing food, and we had a disaster: the ovens didn’t work!” Although it had been quite an anxiety-provoking experience, “We all laughed later. We all got over it.” It didn’t deter her from helping out with other Wine Tastings and enjoying other special events. She doesn’t want to bypass mention of the fun she had in 2005, working on the Ars Musica Cookbook, Recipes That Sing, with Ruth Plaut, Linda Glasgal, and Marjorie Winters: “We continue to make money on it.” Lorraine used to sit down with her family, after work, and watch the Julia Child cooking show on TV. She reminisced: “It was an inspiration for a young mother to sit down and learn from her.”

She also pitched in with Songs Under Starlight—behind the scenes and as a member of an ensemble in the performances—and has really enjoyed performing the Masterworks Concerts choruses: the Mozart Requiem, Mendelsohn’s Elijah. She loves Brahms! It was her first excitement about classical music, hearing Brahms Symphony No. 1 for the first time, when she was a teenager. Her hopes for the future for the whole group: “I’d like to see Ars Musica continue to thrive.”

Interviewer and Author: Marjorie Winters



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Discover Jersey Arts

Ars Musica’s concert season is made possible in part by a grant administered by the Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs from funds granted by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.



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