Choruses join for Saturday concert at Dover High

Members of the Delaware Choral Society rehearse for the spring concert Saturday, (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — Celebrating its 60th year, the Delaware Choral Society will pair with the Delaware Youth Chorale for its biannual concert Saturday at 7 p.m. at Dover High School.

The Choral Society is led by Dr. James Wilson in his sixth year. His full-time position is as a professor and chairman of the Music and Art Department at Wesley College.

“Working with the Choral Society is definitely different than working with college students,” he said. “The Choral Society has a huge age range and just about every decade is represented.”

The society is made up of about 80 members who all joined for the love of music.

“I’m a music lover but I actually never sang much until just before I joined this group,” said Rich Shipley of Harrington.

“I’ve played guitar for 39 years, so I consider myself a musician but I didn’t start singing until one of my friends convinced me to start practicing and after a few weeks of practice, he said he thought I was good enough to join, so I did.”

The Choral Society accepts any singer who wants to join without an audition. Membership begins in the fall and singers attend one two-hour rehearsal per week throughout the year.

Director Dr. James Wilson during rehearsal for the spring concert featuring John Rutter’s
‘Mass of the Children.” with the Delaware Youth Chorale. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“It’s one of the great things about this group,” Dr. Wilson said. “There’s a lot of talent here and coming here isn’t a requirement (from school or parents) so the people come just because they enjoy it.”

Brandon Morgan of Milford is 18 and joined the Choral Society just for fun.

“I actually got into singing because in high school, my schedule got mixed up and I got assigned to some arts classes including chorus,” he said. “I hadn’t sung since I was in elementary school and decided to give it a shot anyway.”

Since the scheduling mishap, Mr. Morgan has decided to pursue music in college and plans on becoming a high school choir teacher.

Every spring, Dr. Wilson chooses a theme for the show and this year he chose “Hope and Peace” and selected “Psalm 42” by Felix Mendelssohn for the Delaware Choral Society and “Mass of the Children” by John Rutter that will be performed by both the adult chorus and the Youth Chorale.

Dr. Wilson tried to stick with works written for a four-part mixed choir and especially for concerts incorporating the Youth Chorale, taking into consideration the level of difficulty and the number of singers.

“Choosing music can be a real challenge sometimes but I chose Rutter first because I knew it would be a great piece for the youth and adult singers and I chose Mendelssohn because it complements ‘Mass of the Children’ even though it’s in a different style and time period,” he said.

Soloist Jessica Beebe is an acclaimed soprano who has performed many concert and operatic works. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“The spring concert always allows for more variety because for the winter concert, we always incorporate Christmas pieces.”

Since this spring is not focusing on master works, the music is unfamiliar to many, even the singers.

“The music is totally new to me,” Oji Voss of Harrington said. “But I’ve sang in several large choirs before and one of the best parts of being in a choral group is learning new music.”

“Psalm 42” and “Mass of the Children” call for soloists so Dr. Wilson is bringing in soprano Jessica Beebe of Philadelphia and baritone Paul Corujo of Baltimore.

As a concert soloist, Ms. Beebe has appeared in many concert works including the “Requiems of Fauré” by Mozart, Rutter and Duruflé; Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater;” Bach’s “St. John and St. Matthew Passions;” “Christmas Oratorio,” “Magnificat” and “Mass in B Minor;” Monteverdi’s “Vespro della beata Vergine;” Handel’s “Dixit Dominus; “Jepthe” and “Judas Maccabaeus;” Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass” “Die Schöpfung” and “The Seasons” Mozart’s “Coronation Mass” and “Mass in C Minor;” Vivaldi’s “In furore Iustissimae Irae” and “Gloria;” Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and Handel’s “Messiah,” including performances with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Raymond Leppard in 2011 and 2013.

Members of the Delaware Youth Chorale during rehearsal Tuesday night. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Ms. Beebe’s opera roles include Dido in “Dido and Aeneas;” Despina in “Così fan tutte;” Zerlina in “Don Giovanni;” La Gloire in “Alceste;” Daughter 1 in “Akhnaten;” Gretel in “Hansel and Gretel;” Barbarina in “Le nozze di Figaro’: Lila in “Cold Mountain” with Opera Philadelphia cover; Niece 1 in “Peter Grimes” with The Princeton Opera Festival; and Euridice in “Orfeo ed Euridice;” with Ensemble Oregon.

She sang Brahms’ “Requiem” last year with the Delaware Choral Society.

Mr. Corujo made his opera debut playing the role of Zuñiga in a joint production of Bizet’s “Carmen” with the University of California, Davis and the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows and has since performed roles including Ramiro in the Baltimore Opera Company’s summer Artscape production of Ravel’s “L’heure Espagnole,” the title role in “Don Giovanni” with Center Stage Opera in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as well as roles in the Peabody Conservatory’s modern chamber opera productions.

The Delaware Choral Society will join with the Delaware Youth Chorale Saturday. (Submitted photo)

Most recently Mr. Corujo appeared as a studio artist at the 2009 Central City Opera summer festival. He has been establishing himself as an oratorio soloist with works such as J.S. Bach’s “St. John Passion” with the Baltimore Baroque Band, “Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ” with Apollo Arts, and Charpentier’s “Judicium Salomonis” with the UC Davis Chamber Singers.

In addition to having guest soloists, the Choral Society will also have guest musicians playing harp and piano from the Delaware Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for military and seniors and $6 for students 21 and under with student ID.

Tickets are available at the Modern Maturity Center on Del. 8 in Dover by calling 734-1200 or by calling the Delaware Choral Society at 422-7775. They will also be available at the door.

Dover High School is off Del. 8 at 1 Dover High Drive.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

Members of the Delaware Choral Society and Delaware Youth Chorale rehearse at Dover High School Tuesday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

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