Concerts, Cake and Crowdfunding Campaign Highlight Milwaukee Choristers’ 80th Anniversary Season

March 26, 2014

The Milwaukee Choristers (milwaukeechoristers.org) will close their 2013-2014 80th anniversary season with 80 – Eight Decades of Song! on Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 26 at Schwan Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College.

The concerts will feature John Rutter’s Gloria with brass and organ, selections from Les Miserables and one of the Choristers’ favorite spirituals, along with works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Frideric Handel, John Ness Beck and Z. Randall Stroope. Former members of the chorus and the Riverside University High School choir will join the Choristers in song to conclude each evening’s performance.

The Milwaukee Choristers began in November, 1933 when 20 Riverside graduates decided to keep rehearsing and performing together. Their high school conductor, Ellen Sargeant, agreed to direct them, and the rest is history. Since 1993 the Choristers have been under the leadership of Dr. James B. Kinchen, Jr., Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Tickets to 80 – Eight Decades of Song! are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $5 for students. Five or more adult tickets are $12 each. Tickets can be purchased at milwaukeechoristers.org. Non-perishable food items will be collected by Tosa Cares and distributed to Milwaukee-area families in need.

For the first time the chorus has taken plunge into so-called “crowdfunding” to raise money for a commemorative CD also entitled 80 – Eight Decades of Song! The CD will feature selections performed at Chorister concerts over the years, including a mix of classical and contemporary songs as well as spirituals and beloved Broadway tunes. The choir has turned to kickstarter.com to raise $3,000 in pledges. Since Kickstarter’s launch in 2009, 5.8 million people have pledged $1 billion to bring 58,000 films, games, music, art, design and technology to fruition.

Nearly 200 Choristers and supporters gathered for “Celebrating 80!” at Wiseguys Banquet and Entertainment Center in Greenfield on March 22. The annual gala fundraiser featured live entertainment, casino-style gaming, a silent auction, raffle prizes including three grand prize drawings of $500 and a giant cake donated and decorated by a member of the chorus.

Among the highlights of the Choristers’ first 80 years:
• Performing at the World’s Fair in New York City in 1964
• Singing for the 1984 National Christmas Tree-Lighting Ceremony in Washington, D.C.
• Traveling to Europe for concert tours in 1988, 1994 and 1999
• Presenting Milwaukee’s first full-sale performance of John Rutter’s Requiem in 1989
• Sponsoring a 2006 Milwaukee appearance by the world-renowned King’s Singers and joining voices with them at the Pabst Theater
• Issuing three commercially-produced CDs: Moments, Christmas at St. Monica’s and Shout Now, Be Joyful
• Collaborating in 2008 with the Brazeal Dennard Chorale of Detroit, a primarily African American choir which seeks to remember and preserve Negro spirituals and rediscover and perform works by African American composers
• Collaborating in 2011 and 2012 with the Decorah Chorale of Decorah, Iowa, home of Luther College

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