community chorus

OperaDelaware and Wilmington Children’s Chorus Take the Choir to the Child with Neighborhood Choir Program-Wilmington, Delaware

VOICES of Kentuckiana Spreading Message of Acceptance and Equality Through Their Music-Louisville, Kentucky

VOICES of Kentuckiana, founded in 1994 as an inclusive chorus that strives to change hearts and minds through song, “is a chorus for the community that celebrates diversity and is dedicated to fostering positive social change through artistic excellence.”  Under the direction of Jeff Buhrman, the chorus initiated a Youth Outreach Program in 2014 in an effort to bring their music and their message of acceptance and equality to local high schools.  Since then, they have partnered with GSAs, GSTAs and The Louisville Youth Group on performance projects and school programming. 

VOICES has a large footprint in the broader Louisville community.  The group has performed at the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration, Volunteers of America’s annual breakfast, the Louisville AIDS Walk, Kentuckiana Pride Festival, Shine on Louisville, The March for Justice, and World AIDS Day.  VOICES has partnered with choruses from Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Nashville to present joint concerts in Louisville, and they have performed with the Louisville Orchestra, the Louisville Brass Ensemble, the Louisville Gay Men’s Chorus, and with several community church choirs.

VOICES values inclusivity, courage, musicianship, cooperation, empowerment, integrity and joy.  The chorus has participated in international LGBTA choral festivals in Tampa (1996), San Jose (2000), Montreal (2004), Miami (2008), and Denver (2012, 2016).  “Joe Nord, who has been a member of VOICES for two years, loves the inclusiveness. ‘For a few years, I had been wanting to join a choral group but I hadn’t sung in several years and was concerned that I wouldn’t be good enough. My friend, Paula Head, had been singing with VOICES of Kentuckiana for several years and suggested I come to their open enrollment in the Fall of 2013. I knew very quickly I had found the right group!’”

Newport Navy Choristers On A Mission to Raise Funds for Local Non-Profits -Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island is home to the Naval Station Newport, which houses the U.S. Naval War College, the Naval Justice School, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and a major U.S. Navy training center.  For over 60 years, the Newport Navy Choristers have gathered to present choral programs that raise money for charitable organizations and to provide enjoyable concerts for their audiences.  Membership is open to active duty, reserve and retired military personnel (both office and enlisted) of all the armed services and the dependents age 16 or over as well as Department of Defense civilian employees and their dependents. 

The Choristers perform four concerts a year, and since 1961, they have raised over $400,000 for organizations in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, including The Fort Adams Trust, The Museum of Irish History, Stopover Services of Newport County, the Middletown Senior Center, Edward King House, Shepherd’s Center of Fall River, Newport Historical Society, and Looking Upwards.  The Nautical Notes and the Sea Chanteys are two subgroups of the chorus who perform at annual concerts and in smaller venues.

The Choristers have also participated in many local Navy observances and memorials throughout the years, including Navy Night at the Pops at Symphony Hall, Boston and events celebrating the 200th Birthday of the U.S. Navy (both in 1975), commissioning of USS Normandy (1989) and USS Chafee (2003), and numerous Naval War College graduation ceremonies to name a few.  Here’s a performance of You Are My Sunshine sung for a concert to benefit the Edward King House Senior Center.

Dakota Choral Union Enriching the Black Hills Region and Welcoming New Citizens at Mount Rushmore Naturalization Ceremony -Rapid City, South Dakota

When most people hear the state of South Dakota mentioned, images of Mount Rushmore National Memorial spring to mind.  It’s in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, about 25 miles from the national memorial, that the Dakota Choral Union is bridging boundaries and touching lives in Rapid City.  Dakota Choral Union, a non-auditioned chorus, was formed after a joint concert between the Black Hills Chorale, Black Hills Voices in Concert, and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Concert Choir in the spring of 1995.

The group, under the direction of Dr. Charles Canaan since 2014, has collaborated with the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra, Bells of The Hills, A Capella Showcase, the Black Hills State University Chorus, Dakota Artists Guild, and the Black Hills Photographic Society. DCU and Kantorei, the auditioned chamber group specializing in unaccompanied choral repertoire, share their passion for vocal music at public events, community meetings, and in assisted-care facilities.  The choir jointly sponsors the Young Vocal Artist Competition annually with the music department of Black Hills State University.  The group concluded their last season by singing at the Naturalization Ceremony at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  (Listen below)  They are scheduled to do so again in June, 2018. 

Caliente Community Chorus in Farmington, New Mexico Connecting with Audiences Near and Far

San Juan County, New Mexico is considered one of the geographically largest counties in the country covering 5,538 square miles.  The area was settled by Ancestral Puebloans in the 7th century and has been inhabited by the Navajos, Jicarilla Apaches and Utes. In 1901 the town of Farmington was incorporated and since 2006, the Caliente Community Chorus has been bringing singers together from the region “to inspire audiences, provide a creative outlet for adult singers, and travel to exciting locations.”

In a relatively short time, the chorus, a diverse and non-auditioned choir under the direction of Virginia Nickels-Hircock, has collaborated with the Southwest Civic Winds, Durango Chamber Singers, Piedra Vista High School, Durango Choral Society, San Juan Symphony and other local college choirs in Farmington and around the Four Corners region.  The group awards two scholarships annually-one is a piano lesson scholarship for students 8-17 years of age and the other is a college scholarship that is awarded to a musician who plans to major in the fine arts.

The chorale was founded by Virginia Nickels-Hircock and Robyn Woodard “who believe that the real beauty and magic of music lies in its ability to celebrate, comfort, strengthen and entertain.”  Its repertoire ranges from opera choruses to cathedral classics, from world folk to jazz standards, from Broadway favorites to cinema greats.  When it comes to traveling, the chorus is on the move.  They have performed multiple concert tours to various places including Spain, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, Greece and New York City.



College Community Chorus Strengthening Town and Gown Relations in Middlebury, VT

The state of Vermont is the second least populous state (approx. 625,000-2010 Census) in the country, and as of 2015, it was the leading producer of maple syrup.  In 1800, Congregationalists founded Middlebury College, the first operating college in Vermont in the town of Middlebury (Pop. 8,500).  Town and gown relations are strained in many small towns across the country that are home to colleges or universities, but the Middlebury College Department of Music’s College Community Chorus is using choral music to strengthen the relationships between townspeople and students.

The choir, conducted by Jeff Rehbach, is open to high school students, college students, alumni, staff, faculty and any other community members who love to sing.  The group performs concerts the weekend before Thanksgiving each year and in May, and they host the annual Messiah Sing that is open to the community.  Students, who can register and receive credit for the course, often note that the 90-voice chorus provides a place to sing, to explore music together, and to make life-long friends with others from on- and off-campus.  "I am so happy I decided to take choir. It was a very positive experience and I would definitely recommend it to future students. Singing allows students to decompress and re-contextualize their collegiate lives... I learned about the collaboration, patience, and self-awareness that is required to make collective art... I've learned how to read music, to work as part of a team, to train my own voice to fit a part, to take care of myself so that I can sing, and to value having friends in the community."

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Missoula Community Chorus A Welcoming Presence in Rural Montana

Montana is ranked 4th in size and 48th in population density out of the 50 states, and Missoula, with a metro area population of 115,000, is the second largest municipality in the state.  It is in this town where 5 mountain ranges converge that the Missoula Community Chorus was founded in 2001 by Jon and Robbin Rose.  In fact, their first rehearsal attracted 125 singers on September 12, 2001, a day after the attacks on the World Trade Center, and their first performance was a week later at Missoula’s Remembrance Service. 

The choir is a non-auditioned group with a mission to inspire community through music.  They explicitly welcome people of all ages, cultural heritages, financial circumstances and musical ability, and they collaborate with other local music and arts groups on various projects throughout the year.  “Being able to share the joy of music making - both in rehearsal and performances - reminds us that we are always better, stronger, and able to accomplish more when we do so together,” says Robbin Rose.  Chorister, Becky D. says, “I never sang in a choir before and I was 51 years old when I joined.  Music was not much in my life and when I found it, it helped me to grieve the death of my son. Now it brings me life. Indescribable!”

The 80 voice chorus premieres new works, most recently a work by local composer, Mike Rosbarsky, and for the past four years they have hosted sold-out community sing-alongs that provide an opportunity for adults and children to watch a movie and sing along with the songs.  Featured movies have included Mama Mia, Frozen, The Sound of Music and Wizard of Oz.  In the past, they have collaborated with instrumentalists from various other community arts organizations like the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and the Missoula Community Concert Band.  In 16 years, the chorus has remarkably strengthened the cultural fabric of Missoula and has created a movement that is distinctly Montanan.

Here's a video of the chamber chorus performing.

Guest Blogger, Steven Coburn, Features New York City Labor Chorus

More about Steven Coburn.

New York City has always been central to the labor movement in America, from the early protests and safety reforms resulting from the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, to the recent activism resulting in increased minimum wage and guaranteed paid sick leave passed into law in 2016. So with one of the highest percentages in the country of unionized workers, as well as one of the most economically stratified populations in the country, it is appropriate that the New York City Labor Chorus was founded here in 1991 “for the purpose of bringing the message of workers’ history and struggles for social and economic justice through song to people everywhere.”

This 75 member multi-cultural and generational chorus, directed since 2010 by Jana Ballard, has representation from over 20 local unions and district councils. Their repertoire includes the great classic songs of American protest, labor, and civil rights movements, and spans genres from folk and classical, to gospel, world, and contemporary hits. They will sing anything that promotes and serves the message of the struggles of labor and peoples’ rights. In fact, they even occasionally rewrite the lyrics of choral classics to better reflect their social and political message, as heard here in their updated version of the famous “Hallelujah Chorus.”

It is in the spirit of social unity and political activism that the New York City Labor Chorus brings the power of music to events ranging from local picket lines, parades, and marches to community events at New York City churches, schools, and civic organizations. The chorus also has brought their message to many larger venues including the UN, Carnegie Hall (for the Paul Robeson Centennial), and Madison Square Garden (for Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday), and national events including the DNC Convention, the Woodie Guthrie Centennial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations. They even carried their message as far as Sweden in 1997, Wales in 2008, and Cuba in 2011. The chorus can be heard on their three CDs, all available on their website.

Hats off to Labor- From the chorus's 16th anniversary concert at the Ethical Culture Society auditorium

Workers Rise!- Labor in the spotlight

On the March!- Songs of struggle and inspiration

“Wherever the struggle for people's rights is being waged, the New York City Labor Chorus will be there." 

Here they are singing the famous South African song of freedom “Siyahamba.”

Ambassadors of Harmony® Using A Cappella Singing to Strengthen Community-St. Louis, Missouri

The Ambassadors of Harmony®, a 130 member men’s a cappella chorus, is making a transformative investment in the broader St. Louis community.  While the group has won dozens of national competitions and performed for audiences internationally, their commitment to enriching the lives of their local audiences and to cultivating an appreciation of choral singing among youth in the St. Louis metropolitan area is astonishing.  The chorus, founded in 1963 in St. Charles, MO as the Daniel Boone Chorus, is comprised of a diverse group of men ages 14-90 who “seek to change the lives of audiences worldwide through artistic and emotionally-driven a cappella performances,” according to their website. 

The choir is committed to building relationships among people of different racial, ethnic and socio-economic identities.  Each fall, AOH partners with University of Missouri-St. Louis, to sponsor Acappellooza Fall, an a cappella singing experience that attracts more than 1,000 high school students from the St. Louis area, and to sponsor a four-day Accappellooza Summer Camp.  They also sponsor “Project Harmony,” a year-long program in local schools, and AcaFest, a one-night festival co-sponsored by Missouri Baptist University.  In addition, AOH awards a $1,000 college scholarship to a high school senior annually.  

AOH has clearly demonstrated a strong commitment to musical excellence, while using the art of choral singing to build a stronger community.