Monday, August 08, 2011

Somerville’s Allegra Martin: part of an ‘Anthology’ of singers.

Somerville’s Allegra Martin: part of an ‘Anthology’ of singers.

By Doug Holder

The scene—a middle-aged community newspaper journalist—the Sherman Café in Union Square--one delectable oatmeal scone… a paper cup of strong coffee to wash it down, and add one mezzo-soprano—Allegra Martin. All but the last item I was familiar with. Allegra Martin, who joined me for a morning repast and an interview is a Winter Hill resident and a member of the singing group “Anthology.” According to the website of the group it consists of “… a professional quartet of enchanting women’s voices. Their expansive variety of music is presented with the fine polish of classical training and an effervescent whimsy that arises from an enthusiasm for all styles of performance.”

Martin met at one of my favorite haunts to discuss her group and their music. Anthology consists of: Vicky Reichert, who is a soprano, Anney Gilotte a soprano, and Michelle Vachon, a mezzo-soprano, and Martin, a mezzo-soprano. All four of these accomplished singers live in Somerville.

Martin, a native of Lexington, Mass. told me that she naturally gravitated to Somerville. She smiled: “It’s a great town. Not too expensive. There are many of my peers here--fellow geeks, musicians, and a strong geek culture that includes gaming, sci-fi groups that feed their obsessions at the Diesel Café in Davis Square.” (Where Martin stops by now and then), she said.

“Anthology” is a cappella group so they do their stuff without musical accompaniment. Their range is impressive; they cover the waterfront of hot jazz, classical, renaissance polyphony, world folk traditions, and incorporate the works of contemporary local Boston composers. Martin listed Erin Huelkskamd and Michael Veloso as a couple of local composers the group admires.

Martin, like many Somerville artists works several jobs to keep her going. One that caught my interest was her work with the Urban Voices Program. This program was started by the Met Opera in New York City—and it has spread to Boston. It serves schools that don’t have a music program. Martin goes to the Mission Hill/Roxbury School in Boston and teaches kids K to 5.

Martin, who got her undergraduate degree from Williams College in Physics and Music, thought about engineering at one point but realized music was her primary interest. She teaches at Lassell College in Newton, Mass—where she hopes to grow a seminal music program.

The other members of this band of musicians and friends work as voice teachers, choral directors, and other gigs to keep in their field.

Allegra Martin is a hustler, and has to worry about the next gig, the monthly health insurance payment—you name it. But she is hopeful, and with good reason, that things will move to a more stable lifestyle, and she will be able to follow her passion in the years to come.

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