Bicentennial Snapshot # 52 – Greece Performing Arts Society

This week we look at the Greece Performing Arts Society.

Before GPAS formed in 1969

Paddy Hill Players annual banquet at the Rochester Yacht Club, 1943, from the Office of the Town Historian

Between 1930 and 1950, people in the town of Greece had many opportunities to join in performing arts centered activities. Amateur theatrics were popular; not only was there the Paddy Hill Players troupe, but a number of churches, including St. John the Evangelist Church and Bethany Presbyterian Church staged annual plays.

By 1960 whereas students could join drama club or the school chorus or band, the opportunities for adults were fewer.

Hoover Drive School Band, 1959, from the Office of the Town Historian

1969 – the Greece Performing Arts Society was formed

So, in 1969, the Greece Performing Arts Society was formed for just that purpose—as an outlet for adults who didn’t want to give up performing just because they were no longer in school. GPAS became the “umbrella organization to pull together and coordinate all the various community performing organizations.”

Initially there were four groups, the Community Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Society, and a Summer theatre group. That first performance year, 1970-71, 165 people were in the various groups; they performed 20 concerts with an estimated total audience of 5,400 people.

Greece Choral Society, circa 1971, courtesy of Patricia Conklin
Greece Chorus and Orchestra practicing at Carnegie Hall, courtesy of Patricia Conklin

GPAS was born from the adult continuing ed experience of Robert Holtz who founded the community orchestra. Dr. David Felter founded the Symphony Orchestra.

Greece Chorus, with Ralph Zecchino and his wife Sandra, accompanist, standing before the choral society, courtesy of Patricia Conklin

Ralph Zecchino founded the choral society and was its director for 44 years from 1970-2014.

Rehearsing for Nunsense, Greece Post, August 24,1992

Over the years, the theatre group usually presented two musicals a summer with a mystery or comedy play or two until 2013. Now GPAS co-sponsors a student summer production.

In 1992 Greece Performing Arts Society put on Nunsense which was an off-Broadway Production that ran for 35 weeks in 1985 and it is a musical comedy with a book, music, and lyrics by Dan Goggin, who is an American writer, composer, and lyricist. The musical Nunsense​ is a hilarious spoof about the misadventures of five nuns trying to manage a fundraiser. Sadly, the rest of the sisterhood died from botulism after eating vichyssoise prepared by Sister Julia Child of God. It was based on Dan’s early life experiences, including schooling by the Marywood Dominican Sisters. The musical of Nunsense did have six sequels but Greece Performing Arts Society only put on the original Nunsense the musical.

The society had a regular schedule of annual events, such as

2017 Schedule of concerts

Some of Different Concerts GPAS puts on

2009 – The Christmas concert Program

Christmas Concert

Winter Blahs program

Winter Blah Concert

Front of 2018 Spring concert program

The spring concert

Concert at Ontario Beach Park, 1999, courtesy of Patricia Conklin

Concerts at the Shore

Supervisor’s concert, 2000s courtesy of Patricia Conklin

And the Supervisor’s Concert.

Concert at Our Mother of Sorrows Church, circa 1979, courtesy of Patricia Conklin

And they were there for special occasions such as: The 150th anniversary of the founding of Our Mother of Sorrows Church

Front of 9/11 program, 2001

And a solemn ceremony for healing after September 11, 2001.

Front RPO Pops program, 2019

They regularly perform at the Eastman theatre.

Chorus on the steps of cathedral, 1994, courtesy of Patricia Conklin

A highlight in the history of the Choral Society was performing in France for the 50th anniversary of the D-day invasion at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Broadside for D-Day concert, July 1994
Garden tour courtesy of Patricia Conklin

Many Greece residents looked forward every summer between 1997 and 2016 to the GPAS annual garden tour fundraiser.

Today, GPAS is composed of three groups, the community orchestra, choral society, and concert band. As they have for more than 50 years, the Greece Performing Arts Society continues to offer musical enrichment to the Greece community.

Learn More about Greece Performing Arts Society and it history starting with The Prelude written by Bill Coons at www.greeceperformingarts.org/i-the-prelude. If you have any General Questions about GPAS then email them at info@greeceperfomingarts.org. Interested in becoming a member of GPAS then check out their membership page https://www.greeceperformingarts.org/membership. You can subscribe to their monthly newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming concerts, events and more. The Greece Concert Band, Choral Society, and Community Orchestra are pleased to be rehearsing at 75 Stutson Street.

For Upcoming GPAS Events visit

https://www.greeceperformingarts.org/events2

Thank you for joining us today.

Next week we look at one of Greece’s most iconic businesses,

Buckman’s Dairy.

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Co-Director of the Greece Historical Society's Information Technology Committee and Producer of the Bicentennial Snapshots

Maureen Whalen

Researcher, writer, narrator, and a retired librarian and local historian who worked at the Charlotte Branch Library, Author of A History of the Seneca Park Zoo, and Co-Author of the following books Winning the Vote in Greece, Our Town in World War II. She is the Narrator to all the Bicentennial Snapshots.

Patricia Conklin