The Platteville Chorale is celebrating 40 years of singing this year.
The Chorale will be singing in worship services at four local churches in April. On April 12 the Chorale will sing at Platteville United Methodist Church at 8:30 a.m. and at Lutheran Church of Peace at 10:30 a.m. On April 26 the Chorale will sing at St. Mary Catholic Church at 9 a.m. and at First English Lutheran Church at 10:30 a.m.
The Chorale’s 40th anniversary celebration will be held in the UW–Platteville Center for the Arts Brodbeck Concert Hall Sunday, May 17 at 2 p.m. The chorale will be singing parts of Rutter’s “Gloria” and Clausen’s “A New Creation” in addition to a variety of other compositions. The Chorale is inviting alumni to attend this event.
In the fall of 1975, Dr. Gerald Darrow, the choral musician in the UW–Platteville Music Department, and local businessman Allen Schaver planned and organized the Platteville Chorale, along with their wives Sarah and Becky.
Thirty-six singers began rehearsals on Oct. 2, 1975 under the direction of Gerald Darrow. The Chorale begin with a series of four concerts in local churches one month later, then joined the UW–Platteville Choir in a presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” in December.
Original officers and members of the organization’s board of directors included: Allen Schaver, president; Lillian Richert, treasurer; Jean Burnham and Claudia Campbell, membership; Grace Jeffery and Paul Ipsen, finance; and Doug Throckmorton and Tom Hickey, publicity. Gerald Darrow was the director, and Becky Schaver was the accompanist.
Allen Schaver led the organization through the spring of 1982, when he and Becky then moved away from Platteville.
In addition to singing fall and spring concerts, the Platteville Chorale planned and organized a Summer Music Festival, with two concerts held in July. The guest conductor was one of the country’s most respected young conductors, William McGlaughlin, conductor of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra at the time. Professional soloists were engaged for the event. For the orchestra and chorus, this was a week-long event with rehearsals at the beginning of the week. The event was co-sponsored by the Platteville Arts Council and the UWP Music Department. This program had a 16-year run with William McGlaughlin serving as guest conductor for 10 consecutive years.
Following the departure of Allen Schaver, Thomas Hickey served as president of the Chorale from 1982 till 1994. Lillian Richert served as treasurer for the Chorale through the fall of 2001 and the Summer Music Festival for its entire existence.
Dr. Darrow retired from UW–Platteville in 1992 as well as from conducting the Chorale after 22 years. Dr. Robert Demaree, who followed Dr. Darrow in the UW–Platteville Music Department, became the director in the fall of 1992. Demaree resigned from the Chorale in the spring of 1998.
Dr. Jeffery Pappas, choral director at Clarke College in Dubuque, directed the Chorale in the 1998–99 season. Darrow came out of retirement and directed the Chorale for two seasons, 1999 to 2001.
Gregory Dennis, former choral director at Mount Horeb High School, sang with the Chorale for the 2000–01 season, then joined the music faculty at UW–Platteville and became the director in the fall of 2001. Dennis is the son of William Dennis, who was “Mr. Music” at UW–Platteville from the early 1940s into the 1980s.
In addition to the adult choir, the Platteville Chorale established the Platteville Children’s Choir in 1989. Now in its 26th season, the Platteville Children’s Choir is officially an operation of The Platteville Chorale, Inc., and is governed by the Bylaws of that organization.
In 1994, the Platteville Chorale was reorganized and established as an official non-profit 501(c)(3). The first officers were Dwight Klaassen, president; Arletta Giese, vice president; Tom Hickey, secretary, and Lil Richert, treasurer. The Platteville Chorale, Inc. operates with a nine-member board of directors, governs with bylaws and operates the Platteville Children’s Choir.
Charter members still singing in the Chorale are Thomas Hickey, Dwight and Sharon Klaassen, and John Urness.