Know Your Neighbor: Pleasantville High School Camerata Singers, Pleasantville

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The Pleasantville High School Camerata Singers, in back, singing with the Chamber of Commerce Instrumental Ensemble last week.
The Pleasantville High School Camerata Singers, in back, singing with the Chamber of Commerce Instrumental Ensemble last week.

For over a decade, students from the Pleasantville School District have entertained residents and shoppers as part of the Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce open house.

On Saturday, two groups of Pleasantville High School Camerata Singers made their way down the streets of the village business district to sing holiday carols in stores before coming together at the village bandstand to perform with the Chamber Holiday Instrumental Ensemble made up of mostly Pleasantville Middle School students.

The annual event has been organized in part by lifelong village resident Toni Emerson, a volunteer and longtime chamber of commerce member.

“We do this every year, and every year I can’t believe that they get better,” Emerson said of the singers. “And shops in town really appreciate it, they look forward to it. They ask me every year, when are they coming?”

The fact that temperatures were hovering around 60 degrees this year did little to dampen the holiday mood.

“We’ve done this sometimes in snow up to our knees,” Emerson said. “I don’t wear sunglasses, but you sure can today. It’s a wonderful day.”

High school performing arts teacher Kathleen Donovan-Warren leads the 18 Camarata singers, and said the girls have been singing for the holidays for at least 10 years. She said the group loves giving back by performing for the community and they do various other performances throughout the community each year.

“I have 18 girls, and 17 of them are here,” Donovan-Warren said. “We have to split them up because they can’t all fit in the shops.”

A camerata is a select choir. In Italian, it translates to chamber singers or small choir, Donovan-Warren said. Joining the Camerata singers was Santa Claus, played by none other than PHS principal Joseph Palumbo. Palumbo agreed to participate after being asked by the participating students.

Chamber of Commerce Secretary Ed Elliott led the instrumentalists with high school performing arts chair Thomas Heintzelman.

“Years ago when we started this, my kids were instrumentalists and they joined me,” Elliot said. “When we started this it was all high school students, and there were one or two really good musicians from the middle school that would join us. This year, the middle school kids were recruited because we couldn’t get the high school kids.”

This year the group consisted of a high school trombone and a saxophone player. Four trumpet players are eighth graders, as was a tuba player.

Business owners and employees said they appreciated the morning helping of holiday cheer. At Heller’s Shoes, manager Silvana Felippelli said she enjoyed seeing the singers even if no customers were there to enjoy it at the time that they arrived.

“I think it’s so nice that they do this every year that these kids put their time into it,” Felippelli said. “Teenagers today don’t do things like this anymore.”



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