HAWORTH, N.J. — All her life, artistic opportunities have followed Claudia Gaard, founder and head of the Haworth Arts Committee.
Growing up in Closter, she sang in the choir at Northern Valley Regional High School.
“My mother and my stepfather belonged to German singing clubs,” Gaard said. “They got me involved in singing at their festivals at Schuetzen Park in North Bergen.”
When her adult life began, her musical activities ceased, though she married Stephen Gaard, a composer of pop and R&B songs.
“The crazy thing was that for 13 years, I was afraid to sing in front of him,” she said.
Then one day she decided she would. He liked her voice.
In 1999, after moving to Haworth, they discovered that many musicians — bassoonists to opera singers, Broadway orchestra players to a Sony Music executive — call the borough home.
He has his own business, Haworth Handyman Service. She is president of Toshoku, a Teaneck-based company that sources foods from North, Central, and South America and exports them to Japan.
But the couple, parents to two daughters, always makes time for music.
For 16 years, they’ve written songs and performed together.
The two performed three of his original songs at the Aug. 20 Midsummer Night’s Jam, the only paid event the arts committee offers. Someone from Haworth was in every act that performed that night.
Eight years ago, Claudia Gaard started singing with The Slacks, a band of mostly Haworth musicians.
So five years ago forming the arts committee seemed a natural thing for her to do. Today she and her husband, both volunteers, are very active on the committee.
At this phase of her life, Gaard, 49, enjoys creating opportunities for other budding artists. One of them is the open mic Haworth Coffeehouse the committee runs at the local library two to three times a month.
“These kids come out and perform and they’re phenomenal,” she said. “Nobody would hear them if they didn’t have these forums to showcase their talent.”
The committee also has produced an old-time radio show and hosted Silly Shakespeare, a performance group from Long Island.
This year, it created the Music Series at the Haworth Pond on Sunday afternoons. Guest artists included the Northern Valley Jazz Band, featuring high school students, and David Podles, a premier violinist.
Gaard calls herself a very happy person who likes creating events that bring the community together.
“That’s really pleasing to me,” she said.
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