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Renowned Musicians Will Reunite in Norfolk in June

Nick Halley, Jon Suters, Chorus Angelicus and Gaudemus will all be back in town


By Colleen Gundlach

When Paul Halley founded Chorus Angelicus, his son Nick was just eight years old. Nick Halley sang in the very first group of children who formed the original chorus and has since become a musician in his own right. Now, 26 years later, he is returning to Norfolk to perform with Jon Suters at the Norfolk Library in a special concert on June 25; and by a fortunate twist, Chorus Angelicus will be performing in Norfolk in June as well. It will be a month of collaboration and homecoming for both groups.

Nick Halley grew up in Norfolk, but his evident musical talent led him to attend high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, where he fell in love with Brazilian music. Having failed to convince the school administrators to allow him to spend his senior year away, he left high school a year early in order to pursue that love. “I caught the [Brazilian music] disease,” he says. “I basically stayed there until I ran out of money.”

While in Brazil, he connected with Oscar Castro-Neves, a Brazilian composer and guitarist, one of the founders of bossa nova, who had worked with Paul Halley for many years in the United States. Nick Halley had his first major gig at 16, playing percussion with Castro-Neves.

Nick Halley has performed internationally with a wide range of musicians, including most recently James Taylor.

Halley went next to New York City, but the country life beckoned and after a few years he moved back to the Berkshires. It was during this period that Halley met Jon Suters, a man who was eventually to become not only his brother-in-law but his musical partner as well. “It blew my mind when I saw Jon’s talent,” says Halley. “He plays all sorts of guitars, bass, lutes and more. He’s a huge talent and truly a musician’s musician.” Halley played drums and keyboards with Suters in various contexts over the years, occasionally as a duo.

It was during this time in the Berkshires that Nick began working with his father, assisting him with Chorus Angelicus, until Paul Halley moved to Nova Scotia. Nine years ago, Nick and his then girlfriend (now wife) Liz decided to take up work with Paul again. “I didn’t intend to stay beyond a year or two, but here we are,” he says.

Nick Halley has been deeply into choral music for the past ten years and says he loves it. Now he is working at a local university in Nova Scotia, directing five choirs and, for the past four years, still finding time to tour with legendary singer and songwriter James Taylor. He will reunite with Suters for the Norfolk Library concert on June 25 at 5:30 p.m., where they will present a musical mix, including jazz standards, Arabic classical, North African and, of course, Brazilian music.

Also in June, Chorus Angelicus and Gaudeamus will return to Norfolk under the direction of Gabriel Löfvall, teaming up with the Berkshire Children’s Chorus, directed by Julie Bickford, a former Chorus Angelicus chorister and director. The choruses will be accompanied by local percussionists Andrew Thompson, Matthias Bossi, Marcus Kreiger and Christopher Parks. Playing at the Music Shed on the Battell Stoeckel Estate on June 11 at 4 p.m., the groups will perform the finale of Graham Instrall’s Chasm, a spirited work for voice and percussion.

For more information on the Nick Halley concert, contact the Norfolk Library at 860-542-5075. For the Chorus Angelicus/Gaudeamus/Berkshire Children’s Chorus concert, call 860-496-8841 or email: office@chorusangelicus.com. Both concerts are free of charge.

Photo, top: Nick Halley (left) and Jon Suters.

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