It’s hard to believe that it all started with a few friends chatting “what if…?”, then sitting down in a living room for more chatting; making some phone calls, and then an assembled ensemble. Many of us had sung together for many years. Others were coming with experience with other ensembles in the area, including the Chicago Symphony and with ensembles as afar away as the Dallas Symphony Chorus. Our membership has evolved. We have lost some dear friends and added new ones. I’m proud to say that a third of our membership is made up of the original 24 Singers from that first season: Louise Brueggemann, Nancy Greco, Peg McMahon, Susan Wolz, Sidni Kiely, Julie Zeller, Ben Beach, Kim Lyons, Carl Janus, Erik Johnson, Mark Peterson, Walter Shalda, and Rebecca Lake, who joined us later in the first season. Thank you so much for your continued dedication and friendship.
Over the years, the ensemble has introduced and re-introduced to the public literature that was or should be part of the standard repertoire. Our programming is unique and enterprising. Our concerts are entertaining, enlightening, and historic. In the past nine seasons, MTS has presented many world, Mid-West, and Chicago premiers. We have shown sides of composers that no one knew existed: Catholic mass settings written by award-winning songwriters Harry Warren (“Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “At Last”) and Meredith Willson (Music Man); a psalm setting written by Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye Bye Birdie), and a “Te Deum” written by a young John Philip Sousa, the “March King.” We reintroduced Margaret Bonds’ amazing “The Ballad of the Brown King” and film composer Alex North’s cantata, Negro Mother, which hadn’t been heard since 1947. We have presented concerts of Broadway composers, of Chicago composers, of all-black composers, and of all-women composers. We will continue to present the music of these important and talented composers, and we will remain true to our mission throughout the coming season and seasons thereafter.
My thanks to the singers who sing with us now, who have sung with us over the years, and to the many faithful audiences members who have joined us at each concert. We look forward to presenting more “undiscovered gems” created by gifted composers whose names are familiar and unfamiliar, and who represent many diverse backgrounds and styles.