The Master Singers choral ensemble has shared and showcased talented area vocalists from around the Chippewa Valley for the past twenty-five years.
During their 2017-2018 season, the ensemble will be celebrating their Silver Anniversary Concert Season, featuring a subscription series of three concerts here in the Chippewa Valley, along with an additional two concerts in Minneapolis.
I spoke with Gary R. Schwartzhoff, Artistic Director and Founding Conductor of The Master Singers, about the past, present and future of the ensemble, and in honor of the Silver Anniversary, here are some fun facts about The Master Singers:.
1. The Master Singers ensemble is dedicated to the fostering, promotion, and appreciation of choral music in the Greater Chippewa Valley.
2. The Master Singers kick off the anniversary season on October 15, 2017, at Lake Street United Methodist Church in Eau Claire, with “America, My Home 2017: Remembered,” featuring “Waves that Seek the Shore,” a commissioned piece by Connor Koppin, this season’s Composer in Residence.
3. Christmas concerts will be held on December 15 and 16, at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Eau Claire, and Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Chippewa Falls. The concert, “Lessons and Carols 2017: Thy Little Ones,” features the work of Composer in Residence Connor Koppin.
4. The Easter Concert, “Choral Images 2018: Lux Aeterna,” is on March 18, 2018, at First Congregational United Church of Christ.
5. Two concerts will be held in Minneapolis-”Lessons and Carols 2017: Thy Little Ones” on December 9th at St. Luke’s Episcopal Cathedral, and another performance as part of the Missa Choralis Series, on March 17 at the Basilica of Saint Mary.
6. The Master Singers have performed as part of the Missa Choralis Series in Minneapolis since 1997.
7. Artistic Director and Founding Conductor Gary R. Schwartzhoff served for twenty-five years as Director of Choral Activities at UWEC.
8. In addition to Dr. Schwartzhoff, Master Singers members Marcia Van Beek, Howard White, and Nancy Schwartzhoff have been with the ensemble since the beginning.
9. When asked what a favorite work has been to conduct over the years, Dr. Schwartzhoff is very diplomatic, “This is like asking what child of mine is the favorite. The best answer is the score we are currently working on.”
10. The Master Singers have featured many Guest Artists, including UWEC ensembles The Bridget String Quartet, and Novum Voce.
11. Some notable orchestras the group has performed with include the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Symphony Orchestra, Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra, Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra, and Philadelphia Brass.
12. A few of the Composers in Residences the Master Singers have had the opportunity to work with and commission pieces from including Eric Barnum, Dan Forrest, Dale Grotenhuis, and Timothy Takach.
13. Connor Koppin, Composer in Residence for the Silver Anniversary Season, is a young, award winning composer hailing from Des Moines, Iowa, who has commissioned works for several outstanding choral ensembles.
14. Some of the composers have performed as a part of the ensemble during their residency.
15. If The Master Singers could work with any composer, living or passed on, Dr. Schwartzhoff would have a large list, but narrowed it down to select Italian Composer Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina. “I admire his compositional technique, his heritage, and his professional appointment, as the choral master at the Sistine Chapel. I had the privilege of conducting the UW-Eau Claire Concert Choir in the Sistine Chapel in January 2016.”
16. The search for new music for The Master Singers repertoire goes on year-round.
17. Since 2006, The Master Singers Christmas Concert has been featured annually on Wisconsin Public Radio, and this year the fall concert will also be broadcast.
18. The Master Singers ensemble has performed twice in Washington DC, including at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.
19. In 2019, The Master Singers plan to perform in the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and the Liberation of France Choral Festival in Paris, France.
20. Charitable contributions help The Master Singers be able to maintain their fine tradition of performances. Contributions are tax-deductible and support everything that goes into a season, from commissioned work to concert receptions to travel expenses.
21. Interested in joining The Master Singers? You’ll need to audition with Dr. Schwartzhoff. He can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
22. Recordings featuring The Master Singers are available for purchase at all concerts and online at www.themastersingers.net
23. Tickets can be purchased online, at the door, via mail, or at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Eau Claire, or at Festival Foods in Eau Claire.
24. Adult tickets are $18.00, and student tickets are $5.00. Season passes are available as well, $45.00 for adults and $15.00 for students.
25. For more information on The Master Singers, you can find them on Facebook: The Master Singers-Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and online at www.themastersingers.net.
Here’s to many more years of beautiful music from The Master Singers!