HUDSON — It was a rocky start when the Thursday Musicale entered its 70th season in October.
It started with the loss of longtime director Jim Urbanski and his wife, Ruth, the longtime accompanist. Both died earlier this year.
The women's chorus hired a new director and accompanist who encouraged the group to change concert days and locations. They even considered changing their name.
Shortly after, the group parted ways with the director and canceled this season's monthly concerts.
"We were very unhappy with the director," said Thursday Musicale President Linda Stuff. "People were upset. ... And we felt unwelcomed at the church," where two concerts were held with no air conditioning.
Now the group is back — with a new director, new accompanist and renewed enthusiasm — as it presents its 70th anniversary concert April 19 at Hudson First United Methodist Church.
The way back began when the Musicale crossed paths with its new director, Bruce Galbraith, who recently moved to Trinity from Naples. Galbraith plays bass for the Serenaders with Tony Pagano, a local 17-piece big band. Pagano's wife, Peg, is a member of Thursday Musicale.
After hearing about the choral group's plight, Galbraith was eager to help out. Along with being a musician, he is an accomplished conductor who has led bands, orchestras and choirs in the U.S. and abroad. Galbraith was the founding conductor of the United States Collegiate Choir and was invited to conduct the Matan Youth Orchestra of Israel on a tour of that country.
"Bruce turned it all around," Stuff said. "He has brought the best in us out."
Galbraith said the admiration is mutual.
"I was really impressed with the high level of musicianship," Galbraith said. "They also have a long-standing tradition I admire very much."
The Thursday Musicale is a community-based women's choral group that formed in 1947. The group, which has about 27 singers who range in age from their 50s through their 80s, presents concerts and awards scholarships to high school seniors pursuing music in college. Since 1990, the Musicale has awarded more than $50,000 in scholarships.
The Musicale also welcomes accompanist Karen Pudlewski, who serves as organist at King of Kings Lutheran Church in Port Richey.
The anniversary concert is dedicated to the Urbanskis. Jim Urbanski served eight years as the choral group's director. Prior to that, he taught music for 33 years in the Pasco County School District. He died Jan. 21, and Ruth Urbanski died Feb. 14.
The concert's program will include songs from shows such as Chicago, Lion King and Phantom of the Opera, and favorites such as What a Wonderful World and Rodgers and Hammerstein's If I Loved You.
The concert will feature two guest soloists, John Timpanelli and Theresa Smith.
Timpanelli, who owns Tin Pan Alley Productions Corp Talent Agency in Port Richey, has been singing professionally for more than 40 years. He grew up in Pasco County and is a Thursday Musicale scholarship winner.
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Theresa Smith, 16, is Timpanelli's student, and has received classical training since she was 6 years old.
"I saw Theresa perform a few years ago," Stuff said. "She is unbelievable."
"It will be a really nice concert," Galbraith said. "The chorus is working really hard. I'm very pleased."