MCC tag line

MCC tag line

History
Written by David Wikman   

 

The Muskegon Chamber Choir was founded by David Wikman, Music Director and Conductor Emeritus, as a sixteen-voice ensemble in the Fall of 1963.  The first purpose of the group was to audition for a place in a summer music festival in Northern Michigan.  While the choir was accepted, the festival never got off the ground so rehearsals were halted.  After a few months the singers persuaded Wikman that they had something too precious to let go.  Rehearsals began again and the Choir’s first concert was given in April of 1964. Dave Wikman remained as Director and Conductor for 52 years, retiring in 2016.

Since that time the choir has gradually increased its membership to perform larger and more demanding choral works.  It  regularly sings with the West Michigan Symphony, and performs an annual concert series in various area churches and concert halls.  In its oratorio performances it has showcased a number of promising young soloists. Among them sopranos Patricia Mueller, Laura Sutton Floyd, and Andrea Holliday, mezzo-soprano Annika Rönnqvist from Finland, alto Gwenneth Bean, counter tenor Steven Rickards, tenors Joel Dulyea and William Watson, baritones Richard Cohn and Robert Lehner, and bass Peter van de Graaff.

 

Its members come from all walks of life….they are teachers, accountants, doctors and nurses, salespeople, and heavy equipment operators singing side by side.  They all share one common love: that of singing great choral music together.  Membership is by audition only with regular re-auditions of each member.

Over the years the choir has performed a number of major choral/orchestral works.  Among them are: the Mass in b minor and Magnificat of J.S. Bach, Messiah and the Dettingen Te Deum by Händel, The Creation by Haydn, Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Elijah of Mendelssohn, and numerous smaller works, chiefly by J.S. Bach.  It has also sung the Rachmaninoff Solemn Vespers, a hallmark of Russian sacred music.  With the West Shore, now West Michigan, Symphony it has sung Messiah, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, The Mahler 2nd Symphony, Verdi’s Four Sacred Pieces, Alexander Nevsky, of Prokofiev and the Lux Æterna of Morten Lauridsen.

During Advent the choir presents its annual “Wreath of Carols” program, a collage concert of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany music.  This has proven to be an event eagerly awaited by the musical public.

The choir has received wide critical acclaim for its performances.  The Muskegon Chronicle has called it “…a valuable community resource,”  and one critic said “Hearing it was like being hit by a diamond-studded steam roller.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 July 2017 14:54
 

Latest News

Change is Inevitable

Founded fifty-four (54) years ago by David Wikman, who directed the group for fifty-two (52) of those years, the Muskegon Chamber Choir is reorganizing and making plans for the future.  With support from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the group has engaged new directors.

 

Mr. Wikman retired as director in 2016.  The Board of Directors recently gave directorial responsibilities over to two veteran musicians who will serve as co-directors.  Jim Hylen is a graduate of Muskegon High School and studied at Olivet College with post graduate work at MSU.  Mr. Hylen also attended the Rene’ Clausen Choral School.  He taught choir at Charlotte High School for 35 years and directed many church choirs.  Mr. Hylen will share responsibilities with Bradley Taylor, also a product of Muskegon Public Schools.  Mr. Taylor has a BA in Vocal Music Education from WMU.  He taught vocal and instrumental music for 25 years at Muskegon Public Schools.  He has held several church choir directorships including Spring Lake Presbyterian and First Congregational Church in Muskegon.  Both men are veteran tenors with the Muskegon Chamber Choir and consider Mr. Wikman a mentor.

 

 

 

Jim Hylen is a graduate of Muskegon High School and studied at Olivet College with post graduate work at MSU.  Mr. Hylen also attended the Rene’ Clausen Choral School.  He taught choir at Charlotte High School for 35 years and directed many church choirs.  Mr. Hylen will share responsibilities with Bradley Taylor, also a product of Muskegon Public Schools.  Mr. Taylor has a BA in Vocal Music Education from WMU.  He taught vocal and instrumental music for 25 years at Muskegon Public Schools.  He has held several church choir directorships including Spring Lake Presbyterian and First Congregational Church in Muskegon.  Both men are veteran tenors with the Muskegon Chamber Choir and consider Mr. Wikman a mentor.

 
Choir Scholarships

The Chamber Choir is thrilled to be able to provide two scholarships this year to singers attending college. It will be an expectation that those awarded scholarships will sing with the Muskegon Chamber Choir for the season.

 

Stay tuned to this website or the Muskegon Chamber Choir's Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/muskegonchamberchoir/) page for more information.

 

What people say

50th Anniversary

As we look back over 54 years now, it seems impossible that we have endured this long.  There have been ups and downs, but for the most part we have enjoyed whatever portion of that time we have spent with the choir.  The fact that there are singers who are a lot younger than the choir is a sign of health.  That membership is something to which a few young people still aspire makes us need to keep going.  We started out by deciding that we would be a non-parochial organization that would seek to explore the best in choral music.  It has worked, much to some folk's amazement.  We will keep it up until we can't stand it or you can't.  We hope we know first.

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Coming Up

The Chamber Choir will join with the Shoreline Symphony in November for a performance of Johannes Brahm's Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny) written in 1871.  The piece is considered one of Brahm's best and most important smaller choral works. It is based on a poem by Hölderlin.

 

 

The Wreath of Carols in December has become a fixture and a favorite in our programming.  We go through as many as twenty-four to twenty-six Advent/Christmas/Epiphany pieces during the course of the concert.  Usually it runs from Medieval to Twenty-first Century music. Soloist and audience participation are frequent features of the Wreath of Carols.   



 
 
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