The Windsor Symphony Orchestra Chorus is an auditioned volunteer choral ensemble of approximately 75 members whose repertoire covers many of the masterpieces of choral/orchestral music. The music in any given season covers a wide range of styles that is both interesting and challenging. The chorus performs three or four times a year with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in everything from Pops to Classics to Baroque concerts. The Chorus has also presented extra concerts independently from the Orchestra, including Handel’s Alexander’s Feast and Requiems by Duruflé and Fauré.
Prior to the formation of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra Chorus the orchestra would perform annually with the Leamington Choral Society (1970s) and later in collaboration with the Windsor Classic Chorale established in 1977. Finally, in 1988 the Windsor Symphony Orchestra Chorus was formed, bringing together singers from Windsor and Essex counties. Past directors have included Richard Householder, Katherine Fitzgibbons, Ronald Bemrich, Timothy Shantz, Jeffrey Douma, and Joel Tranquilla. Singers come from as far away as Leamington, Pelee Island, and southeast Michigan on a weekly basis to rehearse and perform the great choral/orchestral works of the past and present.
Bach – Cantata no. 140
Bach – Cantata no. 191
Bach – Christmas Oratorio
Bach – St. John Passion
Bach – St. Matthew Passion
Beethoven - Fantasy in C minor for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra
Beethoven - Symphony no. 9
Brahms – German Requiem
Brahms – Schicksalslied
Duruflé – Requiem
Fauré - Requiem
Handel – Alexander’s Feast
Handel – Messiah
Haydn – Te Deum
Mascagni – Cavalleria Rusticana
Mendelssohn – Elijah
Mozart - Missa Solemnis
Mozart - Requiem
Orff – Carmina Burana
Vivaldi – Gloria
Opera choruses from Carmen, Traviata, Nabucco & Aida
Musical Theatre selections from My Fair Lady, Little Shop of Horrors and The Music Man
The WSO Chorus rehearses on Wednesday evenings from 7:00-9:30 p.m., September to April. Rehearsals take place at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Windsor.
More than 75 members each donate over 100 hours annually in rehearsal and performance time to the WSO. Members come from all walks of life from students, teachers, professors, farmers and truck drivers to lawyers, nurses, doctors and business owners. They range in age from 17 to 75, and at least a dozen singers have been members for over 20 years.
Auditions are scheduledthroughout the year and new members are always welcome.
To set up an audition, please email the Windsor Symphony Orchestra!
From “Singing for a Lifetime: Perpetuating Intergenerational Choirs” by Brenda Smith and Robert T. Sataloff (Choral Journal, Vol. 53, No. 10, pp. 23-24).
“The role singing plays in the daily life of each singer is diverse and unique. For some, singing is an enjoyable leisure activity, a musical conversation of sounds and ideas. For beginners, singing is a new frontier, a happy adventure. Every choir has a member for whom the rehearsal is the most pleasant activity of the week. In an intergenerational choir, there will likely be a few singers who did not have the opportunity to sing in childhood and who find special joy in singing during a later chapter in life. For older singers, singing may bring back memories from childhood, high school, and college days. Others may value most the friendship that singing engenders. In certain situations, singing may serve as a unifying element within the community. Most singers find the body/mind/spirit connections of singing exhilarating. Singing can make people happier and more content with life. Developing vocal skills and learning new musical masterpieces can create a psychological boost and the excitement of personal achievement. The project orientation of any choral season provides a sense of direction and accomplishment for every person involved in the process. For choir members who maintain interests in acting and public speaking, singing can be a means of maintaining vocal strength and stamina. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw: ‘We don’t stop singing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop singing.’ Singing in a choir can help any person navigate the stormy waves of life. A community choir, by its very nature, tends to celebrate the joys and share the sorrows of its membership. A good choir rehearsal is a stress reliever, a life lesson, a musical feast. For all singers in a choir, the rhythm and discipline of music learning may sharpen mental acumen and memory. For many, the choir rehearsal gives focus to an act of recreation. Singing with others can prevent loneliness and anxiety. For many, singing in a choir makes life worth living. The overall musical results may be of less importance than the good experience of being together for the task of singing.”
Choruses, Civic Engagement, and Bridging Social Gaps
The fact that choral singing is a communal activity is especially significant today when we increasingly rely on Internet-based communications, rather than face-to-face interaction. Several recent studies have shown a significant decline in civic engagement in our communities. Robert Putnam, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government scholar (best known for his book, Bowling Alone) asserts that the significance of choral singing goes beyond music making, and even beyond the arts. He sees group performing as contributing directly to the social trust and reciprocity that is the basis of civic engagement. His work shows that the mere existence of choral groups helps foster North America's democratic culture (see his website, www.BowlingAlone.com).
Chorus America's study found that choral singers are far more likely to be involved in charity work, as volunteers and as donors (76 percent), than the average person (44 percent according to a 2001 report by Independent Sector). Choral singers are also more than twice as likely as non-participants to be aware of current events and involved in the political process. They are also twice as likely as the general public to be major consumers of other arts - and not just music.
The study explored the depth of feeling that participants had about their choral experience, with many reporting that the requirements of choral singing - discipline, attention to detail, teamwork, and the social value of the experience - combine to improve their daily lives, in both their work and in family relationships. Many choristers testified to the degree to which their choral singing made them more aware of other people's life experiences, helping them to bridge social gaps. "That connection with people exposes me to ideas...that aren't otherwise available," one respondent said. Another chorister said of fellow singers, "These people, whom I love dearly, are politically or religiously very different from me." Seventy-four percent said they "agreed strongly" that choral participation had helped them develop new friendships.
Choral groups and choral singers are diverse in the broadest sense: involving people from every region of all ages, in myriad musical styles from classical to gospel. Some choruses employ professional singers with significant music background and training. Professional choruses often set the standard of quality and beautiful choral sound. Some choruses are rooted in volunteerism, and their mission is to involve singers from the community who share the love of singing.
All of these various groups promote cultural excellence, community and national pride. Their performing venues are equally diverse--from community festivals and shopping malls to major concert halls--ensuring that choral music touches all members of a community, regardless of economic status, age, or ethnic origin.