‘Retirement’ is music to New Lenox man’s ears
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent April 11, 2012 3:22PM
Greg Day, the new artistic director of the Lincoln-Way Area Chorale, leads rehearsal at Lincoln-Way West High School in New Lenox. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 13, 2012 8:03AM
It isn’t often that someone lands a dream job during their “retirement years.”
In the case of New Lenox resident Gregory Day, the opportunity to take over as artistic director of the Lincoln-Way Area Chorale came after his retirement from 35 years of teaching.
“This is professionally the group I’ve been waiting for all of my career,” Day, 56, said. “I’m still up here somewhere in the clouds.”
Day will make his directing debut with the chorale at its annual spring concert on April 29, taking up the baton for several numbers at the final concert of longtime director Charles Stark.
“These are huge shoes to fill,” Day said. “My goal is to retain and build on the respect and dignity that he provided this group.”
Day’s extensive musical background, beginning in early childhood, would seem to indicate he’s up to the task.
The Rock Island native began taking piano lessons in first grade and was singing with the Moline Boys Choir by third grade, “touring nationally” with the group for six years, he said.
Day was active in high school band and vocal music, grabbing the attention of both the choral and band directors at Augustana College in his senior year of high school.
When Day found himself in the enviable position of having to choose between the two groups whose schedules overlapped, he chose the Augustana choir, which he said was “among the elite college choirs in the nation.”
He used his musical skills as an educator, teaching band and vocal music at every grade level, from elementary through high school.
Day said a highlight of his teaching career was as director of the Alwood High School IHSA state championship choir in 1985.
The majority of his teaching career, 26 years, was spent at Parker Junior High in Flossmoor, where Day conducted numerous choral concerts and musicals.
During that time, Day indulged his passion for conducting adults as well, directing church choirs in the area for more than 30 years, including 10 as director of the Together Through Music choir at St. Jude Church in New Lenox.
Day keeps up the brisk pace in his home-based “Music Studio of Greg Day,” where he teaches piano and vocal music to students of all ages, including his daughter, Ann Marie, 13, who “has a fabulous soprano voice,” Day said.
He continues to arrange and compose choral music with his wife, Marg, his lyricist for 23 years. Together the couple have created award-winning arrangements, 46 copyrighted pieces to date, which are performed all over the country.
Day said although his background will influence his musical plans for the chorale, he intends to maintain the current standard of musical selections. Based on his conversations with Stark, Day said, their musical tastes are almost “carbon copy.”
But Day will bring a bit of his own style into the mix, too.
“I put myself into the shoes of both the performer and the audience,” Day said. “I try to please everybody with something, and the way to do that is to provide as much variety as possible.”
While Day serves up the musical variety, he said he’ll keep a close watch on what he considers the all-important “flow of the program.”
“It must be musically rewarding for everyone,” Day said.