The Greater Bostonians in Concert 1970 (mp3s)

Our Day Will Come (1:54)
Turn Around Look at Me (3:43)
Spinning Wheel (2:53)
It’s Not Unusual (2:18)
Scarborough Fair (3:55)
Traces of Love (2:58)
Aquarius (3:23)
Summer Turns to Autumn (5:16)
A Time for Us (3:26)
Both Sides Now (3:56)
Climb Every Mountain (2:37)
America (2:47)

Thanks to the hard work and generosity of Otis Fodder and Pastor McPurvis, fans of high school bands and orchestras have a lot to hear online. To those ranks, allow me to add The Greater Bostonians.

Conceived in 1968 by the Boston Herald Traveler Corporation in partnership with WHDH television, the Bostonians was an outlet for those music students who showed exceptional promise and an interest in pursuing music professionally. Auditions were held each year at high schools in the communities inside Route 128, and the best 82 would make the group, comprising a full orchestra and chorus.

Under the direction of Jerry Boisen, Director of Music at Wakefield Public Schools, and his colleague Richard Laman, who directed the chorus, the group would meet each Sunday from October to March to rehearse, with a live television special—quite a big deal back in ’68—and a series of public performances waiting at the end.

The first broadcast was an overwhelming success, and the Bostonians were here to stay. Concert albums found their way into the programming rotations of radio stations around the country—with some unhappy consequences, as we’ll see next week.

Jerry Boisen was a family friend, a kind and effervescent man with a deep passion for music and a relentless belief in young people. His goal was to create a high school orchestra and chorus on par with the professionals—a daunting challenge, to be sure, but one that he achieved year after year with his dedicated young musicians whose age averaged 16 years.

My sister played viola for four years with the group, and this initial collection of albums is from her years, 1970 to 1973. We start with 1970. Throughout, the album is great, but the standout tracks are “Spinning Wheel” featuring Russell Coakley belting out some gravely lead vocals, the instrumental arrangement of Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual,” and the very lively “Aquarius.”

One thing that is unusual is an original composition, “Summer Turns to Autumn,” written by the song’s soloist, Gail Contestabile. Other featured soloists are Cathy Sagal and Thomas Worthley on “Both Sides Now,” Mark Margolies on “Turn Around Look at Me” and Kathleen McKearney and Raymond Nied on “Scarborough Fair.”

This album was recorded live at one of the Greater Bostonians’ appearances and all the songs were recorded in a single take. Many of the problems inherent to live recording are apparent, including tape hum, feedback, and spotty live production mixes. The most notable thing is the attempt to make this not sound like a live performance by eliminating the audience noise, sometimes at the expense of the end of a song.

While some of these problems could be corrected digitally, my goal is to present the album as it sounds, so no alterations have been made apart from a speed adjustment to compensate for a turntable that runs a bit slow at the 0 pitch setting.

Jerry Boisen and Richard Laman, Conductors
David Stuart, Arranger

The 1970 Greater Bostonians: Kenneth Altshuler, Kenneth Belt, Lewis Blair, Barry Blesedell, Whitman Browne, Debbie Bruno, Diana Bruno, Barbara Buzun, Cynthia Buzun, John Cameron, Phoebe Carrai, Pauline Chambers, Clifford Chapman, Russell Coakley, Gail Contestabile, Carol Craft, Marilyn Danby, Charles Doughty, Leslie Finn, David Fuller, David Gambone, Christopher Gates, Gerald Geffen, Danette Gerry, Burt Glesserman, Leonard Giuggio, Bruce Graham, Kaffy Griffin, Edward Hughes, Judy Howe, John P. Hunt, John R. Hunt, Paul Jackel, Sarah Juel, Susan Kaplan, Ricky Lawrence, Janice Lerro, Scott Lang, Kathleen Lindner, Mark Margolies, Ernet Martins, Kathleen McKearney, Anne McMann, Martin Muise, John Mulcahy, Donna Nickerson, Raymond Nied, Matthew Olica, Joyce Oxman, Lauren Patriquin, Robert Peruzzi, Richard Peterson, Mark Pizar, Wendell Purrington, Gary Richards, Jill Romanow, Christine Rosalbo, Paula Rosenberg, David Russell, Lynne Salomone, Karen Seager, Paul Seavey, Cathy Segal, David Seldon, Gary Seldon, Elaine Shapiro, Catherine Sherman, Janet Smith, Christine Sullivan, Virginia Sullivan, Waldemar Szapiel, David Teman, Paul Trombly, Neal Wallace, William Waste, Leslie Wilfinger, Jane Winsor, Ann Wishart, Pamela Wood, David Wormley, Thomas Worthley


Nathan Pizar said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I stumbled on your page doing a google search for my dad (Mark Pizar) and he was with the Bostonians on this album. I used to have his old copy of the vinyl record but have since lost track of it. I'm so grateful that you have preserved it digitally.

David said...

Wonderful! I have very fond memories of playing in this group. Everyone was tremendous -- talented and having a good time. Our conductor was talented, caring, and effective in forming us into a cohesive ensemble. I remember our concert uniform - white slacks and pastel sweaters, mine was blue. We had custom arrangements, played some nice tunes, and took it seriously. A great way to start the 70's.

I didn't know there was an album. Thanks for posting this.

Best wishes to all the Greater Bostonians,
David Teman (dteman on gmail)

BigMamaUSA said...

I sang with the original WHDH Greater Bostonians in 1968. AM wondering if anyone knows of preservation/restoration of this inaugural show was or has been done. Would so love a copy for my children and grandchildren!

Zephryn Conte said...

An exciting find, since one of my original, original compositions lives on this album! Don't know if any of my early buddies are still doing music professionally as I am, but I'd be curious to find out! This was a wonderful early professional experience! Thank you to the directors and creators. Zephryn Conte, fka Gail Contestabile (Composer of, Summer Turns To Autumn)

Joanne said...

I was with the Greater Bostonians (pianist) for the first two years. Unbenounced to me at the time, this was the start of a wonderful perfomrnace career for me that is ongoing to this day. I have two copies of that first album that we made. One is unopened. Thank you for sharing these memories.
Stan Schertzer
aka, The Maestro

Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

Dick Laman said...

Dick Laman, Conductor: Greetings to all of you outstanding musicians of the late 60's and throughout the 70's. We shared a once in a life time experience that has not, to my knowledge, been duplicated anywhere. To clarify some information, Jerry Boisen and I shared both vocal and instrumental responsibilites and I think Jerry set the vocal standard for the group with Danny Boy (GB's '72 albumn). I'll be pleased to respond to any of your comments or questions about the group as I remember it from 40 years back in time. It was a musical BLAST!!!

Teri Petricone said...

Hi I also sang in the original Greater Bostonians in 1967/8 and am trying to find videos of shows and copies of the music recorded. I have tried to find info online about the original group, however, all I can find are the groups from 1970...Can anyone help?

Andrea Hall said...

Wow--okay. I was an Alto II in the Greater Bostonians while in High Schoolin the mid 70's. Auditions were at Northeastern University. After various rehearsals, The venues for final performances were amazing. We performed at the Hatch Shell and at Symphony Hall. We also sang at local high school auditoriums like Belmont High School. We had a photo in TV Guide (I still have the copy of it!) and we had a special on a local Boston TV affiliate. The singing segments would also replayed sporatically in late hours of the night as well. And the group--singers and musicians--were outfitted by 'Anderson Little'! Wonderful memories.