Eleven-year-old Sophie Donohue doesn’t have far to travel for the Community Sing each week. During the summer she lives with her family in the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground. Sophie’s Vineyard experience could be described as a time to swim, sail and, of course, sing.

On Wednesday, July 20, at the third Community Sing of the summer, Sophie mingled with the crowd. “I’m waiting for my friends,” she explained. “We come every week to sing together.”

After finding her friends, Sophie and her group did not miss a beat or note in the event’s lineup of songs, which make use of clapping, hand gestures, harmony, and rounds.

Operafest students add an extra element. — Alexandra Eve Schoenfeld

The Community Sings have been drawing vacationers and Vineyarders, both young and old, for 106 years now. They are a piece of something familiar for everyone who appreciates music, community and tradition.

Patrice Kane lives year-round in New Jersey but visits the Island for a few weeks every summer with her husband and two sons. Each week Ms. Kane adds the Community Sing to her agenda.

“It’s a nice slice of history, and of heritage,” she said.

Despite the familiarity of the event, the evening’s agenda demonstrated that it never grows boring or remains stagnant. The program included a performance by Operafest, a group of high school students who come to the Vineyard each summer to study the craft of opera and perform. Operafest members first joined in singing the song selections made by director Bob Cleasby before taking the stage by themselves. As Mr. Cleasby stated, “There is music, and then there is opera.”

Mr. Cleasby’s assertion held true as the harmonies produced by the teenagers resonated throughout the Tabernacle.

Later in the evening, after the program had shifted to its more traditional lineup of music, including everything from Bingo to Beethoven with Dr. Amaryllis Glass accompanying on the piano, Mr. Cleasby noted, “There is music, there is opera, and then there is Beethoven.”

At the end of the night, guests left the Tabernacle humming and headed home, either walking down the path to the family cottage, driving across the Island, or making plans to depart the Vineyard, feeling both sad and sated as the curtain fell on another traditional rite of their summer vacation.


The Community Sing takes place every Wednesday evening throughout the summer at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs beginning at 8 p.m.