An Unsung Hero Who Drove a Decade of Singing
Coolidge Corner Community Chorus leader Crispin Weinberg honored as this year’s “Unsung Hero.”
Though known to many as the man behind the Coolidge Corner Community Chorus, Crispin Weinberg will tell you he's far more famous in some circles as the guy with the "electric pickle."
The annual experiment, which involves an actual pickle that lights up when electrified, is Crispin's contribution as the annual organizer of the Brookline ScienceFest, another of his projects. He also tutors, coaches math leagues and has established a scholarship to help special-needs children get access to after-school music programs.
"We were extremely impressed with the magnitude of things that Weinberg does from his involvement in schools, educating kids around science and the work he's been engaged with in the music school," said Richard Ward, director of the Brookline Community Foundation. "When you look at it, he's really an exceptional kind of person."
Crispin's under-the-radar contributions to life in Brookline were recognized last week as the foundation celebrated its fifth annual Unsung Heroes Award, an honor bestowed each year on Brookline volunteers whose work has gone unrecognized. But true to the award's criteria, Weinberg is suitably modest about his contributions to the town.
"I was certainly surprised and delighted," Weinberg said. "But really what should be celebrated is the number of people who contribute to the community in so many different ways. It's really a celebration in how involved people are in our community."
In addition to his work in the schools, Weinberg has grown and guided the Coolidge Corner Community Chorus for more than a decade, though he insists he can't be considered the group's founder. More recently, he has worked on a collaboration with the Brookline schools' All-Town Chorus, which will be singing together with the Coolidge Corner chorus for the first time at Brookline's First Light celebration on Nov. 18. The performance will start at 7:45 p.m. at the Arcade building on Harvard Street.
Weinberg said he holds his work with the chorus close to heart because of the comradarie he finds there.
"It's one of the few things that feels very purely communal in a sense," he said. "The whole group is better by everybody helping each other and listening to one other, not trying to make your voice stand out."
But while his involvement in the chorus may be Weinberg's primary claim to fame, his community efforts don't end there. From coaching math leagues and tutoring groups in the schools to becoming involved with various PTOs and working with the Brookline Education Foundation, it seems Weinberg does it all.
He even helps to organize the annual Brookline ScienceFest, where he's become famous for electrifying a pickle before a crowd of kids each year.
"It's kind of a neat thing because young kids can enjoy it and it teaches them to enjoy all senses," Weinberg said of his notorious presentation. "You can see it, hear it, smell it—smells like somebody's doing a bad job cooking—taste it, feel it, and it has a sense of humor."
It's clear to see that Weinberg is a jack-of-all-trades, and looking at all of his accomplishments, Ward couldn't agree more.
Ward said people like Weinberg are the reason the foundation started recognizing volunteers whose work goes unnoticed.
"Some people do things as part of their jobs and are often recognized, and then you have a whole silent group out there whose names you don't often hear," Ward said. "Part of what we are trying to do is promote philanthropy and people who do extra, specifically pointing out 'You are the reason this is happening. Thank you for what you do.' It's just such an incredible statement."