For some, it’s a finely tuned instrument that takes blood, sweat and tears to perfect over a lifetime. For Pewaukee native Abby Lorenz, it's something she possessed as a toddler. Her parents noticed something special about her, because before she could walk, Abby could sing.
“We had a really tiny piano for her in a playpen way back when playpens were used so much more than they are today,” recalls her mother, Sherry Foyer, of Pewaukee. “So we got her a teeny tiny grand piano …it couldn’t have been more than 18 inches tall, if that … she had this song she used to play that we joked was her theme song.”
So when she was five years old, Foyer enrolled dear Abby in piano lessons. And Abby never looked back.
“I feel as though this gift was given to me and it is my purpose in life, so when I perform I feel the Holy Spirit working through me delivering joy,” says Lorenz, who has spent the better part of the last 35 years performing. “When I look around at the audience and see happy faces and toes stomping and hands clapping, I just feel so blessed to be part of the reason that’s happening.”
Lorenz, a married mom of two adult children, put some of that spirit to work in 1999 when she became a founding member of the Civic Broadway Singers.
She is now directing (in addition to singing and accompanying) the beloved local group, which performs favorites from hits like “The Sound of Music,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “West Side Story” and “Chicago.”
“Once upon a time we had a vision of having our local stage actors and actresses join together and create our own little group,” says Lorenz. “That’s what we did all those years ago, and that’s what we continue to do today.”
The 2016 troop includes 28 members who volunteer their time to benefit the Waukesha Civic Theater.
“I really consider the gift of music something to be cherished and shared with all who wish to hear it,” says Lorenz, who estimates the group performed 29 shows in December alone. “Honestly, when someone asks why I love music, when someone wants to know why I’m so passionate, I explain to them it fills my cup. My cup runneth over with gratitude and joy for being given this gift to share with the community.”
When she’s not busy multitasking with the Broadway Singers, Lorenz volunteers for a number of local organizations in support of the arts.
She is an active member of the Pewaukee chapter of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, and she contributes her event planning skills to local fundraising events. She is the board president of the Pewaukee Area Arts Council and helps organize events that raise more than $45,000 for the community each year.
She has been the music director for more than 10 years at Jerusalem Presbyterian Church in Wales as well. Because the common denominator is, and always will be, music.
“Music is a gift,” she says. “It is calming. It's proven in fact, that classical music truly relaxes a person. It slows down your heart rate and reduces your stress ... So when I get stressed out, which is often, I turn on classical music and relax and know everything is going to be OK.”
More often than not, Lorenz says the highlights of her time as a musician have been about people with the same thought in mind.
“There have been moments … so many moments when I knew I was doing exactly what I should be doing exactly when I’m doing it,” she says. “There are times when an audience member comes up to me after a show and grabs both my hands and tells me I made their day … Those are the moments that make what I do so special to me.”
Aside from that, Lorenz says she believes God has played a role in who she has become and what that means for the world around her.
“I believe everybody has a purpose and everything happens for a reason because God has a plan for every one of us,” she says. “It’s true that some of us need to be patient and wait to find what that purpose is, but for others, like myself, I knew right away at an early age that music is my gift … It’s what I was brought into the world to do … to share that gift with whoever wants to listen.”
She will be the first to admit there’s always a song in her heart, but when she’s not singing, Lorenz says she enjoys spending time on the water with her family.
“I believe that true love and joy come from your family,” she says. “That being said, I have always joked that a family that plays together stays together.”
She adds that water skiing with her children ranks among a favorite pastime of hers, in addition to enjoying what she describes as “all things Wisconsin.”
“She’s really an inspiration to all of us,” says Glenn Daily, of Lebanon, who has worked with Lorenz as a part of the Broadway Singers for almost 10 years. “She understands and appreciates every single one of us for our own set of unique talents and helps us be better simply by being herself.”