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| The Irving Chorale of Irving, Texas, was organized in 1987 under the direction of James Moore. The Chorale was founded as a community chorus with a come-as-you-are, no-audition membership requirement. A weekly rehearsal schedule was chosen, and members met to practice. The Chorale gave its first concert at Williams Square, singing with the Irving Symphony,in celebration of the bicentennial of the United States Constitution. The first Christmas concert was presented at First Presbyterian Church of Irving. The program consisted of traditional hymns, including O Holy Night, The First Noel, and Deck the Halls. The first season culminated with a salute to Brahms and Broadway at the Irving Center for Cultural Arts. Musical selections included How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place, The Creation, Big River, and selections from Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and Carousel.
In 1988, the Chorale gained greater exposure when it performed a joint concert with the Mesquite Civic Chorus in Dallas, Texas. This concert was repeated in the summer of 1989 for the general assembly of the Texas Choral Directors Association in San Antonio, Texas. In 1994, the Chorale was invited to Portsmouth, England to participate in ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of D-Day. A four-concert tour of Wales and central England followed, where the Chorale sang in St. Mary’s Church, Hampton Lucy Church, and St. Andrew’s Church. Musical selections for the tour included All My Hope on God is Founded, O Magnum Mysterium, The Prayer of Saint Francis, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Shenandoah, I Hear America Singing, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, From Sea to Shining Sea, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
As the reputation of the Chorale grew, so did opportunities to perform. The Chorale was fortunate to receive two invitations to perform at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, once in June of 1993 and again in May of 1995. The group was also invited to sing in Toronto, Canada, in the summer of 1996. This trip tested the Chorale’s versatility and adaptability as the venues were diverse and included St. Andrew’s church, Casa Loma castle, and Woodbine Race Track! The performance at the racetrack was broadcast over Canadian National Television. The Chorale got another opportunity to see Europe with a Cathedral tour of Scotland and northern England in July of 1999, where they sang in St. Giles Cathedral, St. Michael’s Church, York Minster, Coventry Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey. In July of 2002, the group had a unique opportunity to tour Austria, including Vienna, Graz, and Salzburg. Concert venues included the English-Speaking United Methodist Church of Vienna, Zum Gottlichen Heiland, Bergkirche, Franziskanerkirche Maria Himmelfahrt, and St. Michael Church in Mondsee.
Feeling a desire to contribute to the music education of the children of Irving, the Chorale coordinated with the Music Department of Irving Independent School District in the fall of 1999. The Chorale featured students from each elementary school in a fall concert. This grew to two concerts each October at the Carpenter Performance Hall, offering the opportunity for middle and high school choirs to perform before large audiences.
After nine years as director, Mr. Moore resigned his post in May of 1996. The Chorale’s Officers and Directorswas faced with the difficult task of selecting a new Artistic Director. After receiving resumes, the Board selected three applicants for the membership to interview. The interview consisted of each candidate preparing and directing one concert in the 1996-97 season. Dr. Harrell Lucky was selected as the new Artistic Directorfor the Chorale.
The change in directorship brought many changes in the Chorale. The Chorale's repertoire and reputation had grown in its first nine years and continued to expand under its new Artistic Director. Recognizing the potential of a more experienced and balanced choral sound, Dr. Lucky began holding Auditions and Rehearsalsfor membership into the Chorale. The first Auditions and Rehearsalswere held in August of 1997. Every member was asked to audition, along with anyone interested in becoming a new member. Now, each August and January, singers have an opportunity to join the Chorale.
Under Dr. Lucky’s leadership, the Chorale was offered and pursued other performance opportunities. The Chorale was invited to sing for the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Dallas Galleria in 2000 and 2001. Chorale members also entertained crowds at Old City Park in 2001 and 2002.
After six years at the helm, Dr. Lucky resigned as Artistic Directorin May 2003. The Chorale’s Officers and Directorsfaced another difficult appointment process. Ms. Janette Williams served as Interim Artistic Directoruntil February 2004, when Harry Wooten was appointed to succeed Dr. Lucky as the Artistic Directorfor the Chorale.
This year the Irving Chorale begins its 26th season. The membership has grown and changed; only two charter members remain with us: Mary Cole and Bill Werner. The Chorale’s repertoire has also grown to include such masterworks as Handel’s Messiah and Beethoven’s Mass in C, as well as a variety of traditional and contemporary choral music, including anthems, festival compositions, Broadway hits, spirituals, and folk music.
Under Harry Wooten the Chorale has continued its travels to Austria, New York City, Switzerland, Kansas City and are making plans for future trips.