Hometown Heroes: Cathy Lanigan is motivated by a love of singing

Cathy Lanigan accepts an award on behalf of Monadnock Chorus at the  2018 Ewing Arts Awards in Keene.

Cathy Lanigan accepts an award on behalf of Monadnock Chorus at the 2018 Ewing Arts Awards in Keene. —PHOTO COURTESY LAURIE LEWIS

By BILL FONDA

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 06-24-2024 12:06 PM

Since she was a child, Cathy Lanigan has always loved to sing.

She was a voice major in college, and thought she would be a music teacher. Instead, she wound up working in IT as a computer programmer and didn’t sing, even though she still loved it.

But when it came time for her and her husband Steven to move, Lanigan was drawn to Peterborough for its choral music scene.

“I thought, ‘What a great place to live,’” she said. “I moved here in 2010, and the first thing I did was look for a local chorus to sign up for.”

That chorus was Monadnock Chorus in Peterborough, where she also joined the board. Other organizations and board memberships have followed – Music on Norway Pond, Zenith Ensemble, co-founding Viva Bach, Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs – and those efforts led fellow Monadnock Chorus member and board member Laurie Lewis to nominate Lanigan as the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript’s Hometown Hero for June.

“I’m a big fan,” Lewis said. “She is just a powerhouse worker. She does it all with such a cheerful, can-do disposition that makes everyone enjoy the process.”

Lanigan’s work with Zenith Ensemble includes the professional group’s festival concert with community singers, the third edition of which took place Saturday at St. Bernard Church in Keene. She admits that part of her motivation for helping develop such events is to have an opportunity to sing with conductors she likes.

“When they say, ‘I want to create an event,’ I say, ‘How can I help you,’” she said.

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Viva Bach has its roots in a conversation Lanigan had after a Monadnock Chorus concert with a violin player who said she wanted to do a Bach concert.

“You see these people along the way, and they have these ideas,” she said. “If they’re good ideas, you want to support them.”

Under the direction of co-founder and Artistic Director Veronika Schreiber, this year’s Viva Bach concert, will be Oct. 25 to 27 at Peterborough Town House. In addition to the professional artists, the festival will include young artists from Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs and singers from Keene State University.

Lanigan said a lot of putting together and event is administrative, such as getting spaces, acquiring the music and recruiting singers. Because Viva Bach is relatively new, fundraising is also a significant task because it hasn’t had time to build up a reserve.

Due in part to a grant, this year’s festival is funded, but “We’re always under the gun between January and June or July,” she said.

Lanigan, 65, retired at the end of April.

“I’ll have more time to help whatever boards I’m on, and maybe clean my house once in a while,” she said. “I just do what I like to do. It doesn’t feel like work.”

As for how long she’ll stay involved, Lanigan has a goal.

“I want to stay long enough so I’m a ‘sitter’ right in front” during choral performances, she said.

Each month, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript will recognize one of our region’s many Hometown Heroes. Nominate a Hometown Hero at tinyurl.com/3ctykcnv.