THE ORCAS CHORAL SOCIETY
Director and Founder
The Orcas Choral Society Handbook 2008
Welcome to the Orcas Choral Society
The Orcas Choral Society, founded in 1978, celebrated its 30th Anniversary in May, 2007.
The purpose of the Choral Society is to encourage and enhance the art of choral music on Orcas Island. It provides a structure within which adult community members may sing together a wide variety of choral music at a consistently high level and to present choral concerts for Island audiences.
The Choral Society meets weekly September through mid-December and January through mid-May.
Rehearsals are held every Tuesday evening 7:00 pm to 9:15 pm in the Orcas Center Madrona Room. Detailed rehearsal schedules will be provided in advance.
Rehearsals start promptly at the time announced. Sopranos and Altos alternately provide refreshments the first
Tuesday of each month. Tenors and Basses set up and put away rehearsal chairs and
other equipment. Announcements of general interest are welcome with the un-
derstanding that no partisan or political views be expressed.
Among the joys of the Choral Society are the friendship and camaraderie we enjoy together. Please respect rehearsal time as a time for singing, listening and learning. Save conversation for breaks and the moments before and after rehearsals.
Music and choir folders are the property of the Orcas Choral Society. Upon request they are to be returned to the Librarian.
In May, 2002, the Choral Society celebrated its 25th anniversary. Two gala performances were presented at Orcas Center featuring the Celtic Mass for the Sea. Both composer Scott Macmillan and librettist Jennyfer Brickenden flew from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to attend the performances.
As a result of its preparation of the Celtic Mass for the Sea, the Choral Society was invited to join a Canadian choir based in Halifax to perform this work on the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York City. Twenty-four OCS members joined the 135-voice chorus in this exuberant performance of The Celtic Mass that brought the Carnegie Hall audience to its feet in enthusiastic appreciation and response.
In 2007 the Choral Society, in its 30th anniversary year, arranged for the commissioning of a choral work. The process began with the selection of a prestigious British Columbia composer, Stephen Chatman. Next, after an extensive search, Nobel Prize winning poet Theodore Roethke’s poem The Rose was selected as the text. Roethke wrote the Poem in 1963, following a springtime visit to the San Juan Islands. He evokes through his imagery the sights and sounds of our beautiful islands. His “rose” reference is to the wild rose that blooms here in profusion in the late spring.
The piece was commissioned, on the occasion of the Choral Society’s 30th anniversary, by Fred Whitridge in celebration of the life and love of song of Betty Whitridge, long-time Choral Society member.
About The Choral Society
The idea of starting an all-volunteer Choral Society on Orcas grew out of a 1976 Christmastime Messiah Sing at the Episcopal Church where Islanders had been invited to sing portions of Handel’s Mes- siah. A sign-up sheet was circulated which indeed showed interest in forming an ongoing group. Catherine Pederson, then a music teacher at the Orcas School, and Louellen McCoy, with help from violinist Barbara Stone, went to work to organize what is now the Orcas Choral Society.
More than 400 singers have been part of the Choral Society during its 30-year existence, with 35 to 65 members at any given time. Besides Catherine there are three charter members still singing with the group.
Until the completion of Orcas Center in 1986, the Society per- formed in such venues as the old school gym, the Grange Hall, the Community and Episcopal Churches and the Rosario Music Room.
Since the spring of 1998, the Choral Society has joined the Com- munity Band, the Symphonia and other island musicians to partici- pate in the annual Orcas School Music Benefit Concert. Donations received from audiences at these concerts benefit student music programs.
The Choral Society’s repertoire includes a wide range of music from classical and sacred to show tunes and jazz, the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Trial By Jury and major works such as Requiem by Gabriel Faure, cantatas by J.S. Bach, Magnificat by John Rutter and Celtic Mass for the Sea by Scott Macmillan.
Two full concert programs of two performances each are presented every year at Orcas Center:
The second weekend in December The second weekend in May
Other concerts or smaller engagements may also be scheduled. A third performance is usually held in March on alternate years. The Orcas Choral Society also participates in the Orcas School Music Benefit Concert.
Additional concert programs, or additional performances of the fall and spring concert programs, may be scheduled at the Music Director’s discretion. Participation of members is expected in all concerts.
Choral Society concerts at Orcas Center are presented in partner- ship with the Orcas Center.
Concert Dress (provided by members)
Women : Standard black tunic Long black skirt
Black shoes and black stockings Men : Standard black shirt and pants
Dark shoes and black socks
The Choral Society is a “scent free” choir. Please, no scented cosmetics or toiletries at performances or rehearsals.
Policies and Guidelines
Requirements for Choral Society Membership
Membership is through arrangement with the Director based on:
Regular attendance at rehearsals and performances.
The ability to sing at the group’s technical level.
Balance of parts.
Participation is to be for the entire year whenever possible. The necessity of extended absences must be discussed with the Director. High School students are welcome at the Director’s discretion.
The vision of the Choral Society is that we “sing each other’s songs”. Repertoire will be selected from a wide spectrum including sacred, secular, classical, folk, multi-cultural and ethnic music. Members not wishing to sing any of a season’s chosen selections will be excused from that season’s rehearsals and performances and may resume membership at the discretion of the Director.
Dues and Donations
Annual dues as set by the Board are payable in September or upon joining the Orcas Choral Society. Discretionary scholarships are available through the Treasurer.
The Choral Society welcomes donations in addition to dues. Concert income does not cover the basic operating costs of the organization, so some portion of the annual budget must be made up with gifts. All donations are tax-deductible. Dues, in contrast, are not tax-deductible as the singer receives services (use of music, folders, etc.) in return for dues.
Artistic direction and musical decisions are the responsibility of the Director.
Board of Directors
The responsibilities of the Board of Directors include:
Consultation with the Director
Members of the Board are elected by the Orcas Choral Society membership or are appointed by the existing Board as specified in the By-Laws.
The Orcas Choral Society is a non-profit organization with 501 (C) (3) status. Donations to OCS the Choral Society are tax-deductible.