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Chicago Chorale exists for both its audiences and its members.
Chorale offers concerts of great music, performed with passion and commitment. The choir’s repertoire ranges from the sixteenth century to the present and includes well-loved choral works as well as overlooked masterpieces, but always music that will stimulate and challenge its listeners. Dedicated to building audiences for this repertoire and sustaining the tradition that gave rise to it, Chorale’s Artistic Director and members embrace education and outreach as a central part of the group’s mission. Major performances typically include free, pre-concert lectures on topics related to the program or composers. Outreach is accomplished through community events, such as open rehearsals and interactive sing-a-longs, as well as reprise concert performances in communities outside the city. Chorale performs throughout the Chicago area in venues that are visually and acoustically appropriate to its repertoire; generally speaking, this means concerts are presented in churches, rather than in concert halls. Above all else, the choir is committed to musical excellence.
Chorale gives talented and highly motivated volunteer singers the opportunity to perform demanding repertoire with integrity and discipline. Members view their singing as a vocation and prioritize rehearsals above most other activities, outside of work and family commitments. They are deeply committed to the art and craft of choral singing, as distinguished from solo performance (although many do both). To this end, they are prepared to put significantly more time and energy into Chorale rehearsals than would be expected for a community choir. Chorale auditions are competitive and policies regarding singer attendance strict, in order to maintain the polished ensemble sound for which the group is known.
Chicago Chorale, a 60-voice ensemble of volunteer singers, takes as its guiding principle the concept of the amateur in the truest sense of the word: those who cultivate a craft out of genuine love and dedication. Chorale performs repertoire from the sixteenth century to the present day, from well-loved choral works to overlooked masterpieces—but always music that will stimulate its singers and audiences, and always with a commitment to musical excellence. Led by Artistic Director Bruce Tammen, the members of Chorale, hailing from various backgrounds and professions, take pride in continuing the tradition of great amateur choral institutions of the past. Through sensitive and thought-provoking performances, Chorale seeks to expand the musical appreciation of its audiences as well as serve as an example of the highest choral ideals.
Past performances include the Rachmaninoff Vespers (All-Night Vigil, op. 37), Requiems of Howells, Durufle, Faure, Brahms, and Mozart; Martin’s Mass for Double Chorus, Tallis’ Lamentations of Jeremiah, Handel’s Messiah, Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Mass in B Minor, Magnificat, and Christmas Oratorio, which the choir performed both in Chicago and in Mexico City with the Orquesta del Nuevo Mundo. In 2008 the Chorale performed at the Ravinia Music Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Erich Kunzel, and in 2011 under Ludwig Wicki. Chorale has appeared three times on WFMT (98.7 FM) radio’s “Live with Kerry Frumkin” and recorded five CDs.
Conductor and Artistic Director Bruce Tammen holds degrees from Luther College, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago; he has taught voice and directed choirs at Luther College, the University of Chicago, and the University of Virginia. Tammen studied extensively in France with Dalton Baldwin and Gerard Souzay, and for several years studied with Max Van Egmond at Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute. He has performed several seasons under Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival, and with the Robert Shaw Choral Institute, in Souillac, France. Tammen is baritone soloist on the Telarc/Shaw compact discs Appear and Inspire and Liebeslieder Waltzes.